Finding inspiration in an unexpected place, from an unexpected source, results in a special blessing. I had the good fortune of receiving such a blessing over the weekend.

I was in Tampa for a convention and searching for someplace to eat dinner. An employee at my hotel recommended I check out Big Ray’s Fish Camp at the Sail Pavilion.

“It’s nothing fancy,” he said. “But you’re going to love it.”

Big Ray’s Fish Camp is an open-air restaurant overlooking the marina along Tampa’s Riverwalk. It’s an ideal place to people-watch, listen to music, enjoy sunsets, and eat good food—really good food. (The blackened grouper sandwich is to die for!) While all those elements contributed to how much I loved eating at Big Ray’s, they aren’t what made the experience special.

At Big Ray’s, food is ordered from a walk-up window and then delivered to your table in an eco-friendly takeout container. When our party’s food arrived, we found inspirational quotes written on each container.

The person responsible for the inspirational quotes was Chef Jennifer Dunlap. I learned she personally writes a positive, encouraging message on every order she prepares. The quote on my container read: Be fearless in your pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

That quote happens to be one of my favorites. The message applies to the art of being a good teammate, as good teammates must be fearless in serving the needs of their team. They should pursue this endeavor with burning passion.

Chef Jennifer is an excellent example of the type of teammate you want on your team—someone who goes above and beyond in their service. Teammates like her tip the scale of success in their teams’ favor.

Adding handwritten inspirational quotes to orders isn’t in her job description. She’s not required to inspire customers in that manner. But she does it anyway, and her extra effort is what made dining at Big Ray’s special.

Good teammates recognize the value of doing more than what is expected. They don’t allow their contributions to be constrained by the limitations of their job descriptions or by what others deem to be sufficient. To good teammates, going the “extra mile” is standard operating procedure.  

Everyone at our table was moved by Chef Jennifer’s quotes. What she wrote brought smiles to our faces and warmed our hearts.  We came to Big Ray’s seeking nourishment for our bodies. We left with nourished bodies and nourished spirits.

What was on the outside of the containers nourished us as much as what was on the inside.

All good chefs have a recipe with a coveted secret ingredient. Chef Jennifer’s secret ingredient is positivity and she adds it to every dish she serves. If you’re ever in the Tampa, Florida area, be sure to stop by Big Ray’s Fish Camp. I’ll bet Chef Jennifer’s secret ingredient and her desire to exceed expectations will inspire you too.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is the founder and CEO of the Good Teammate Factory. He is a college basketball coach turned author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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