Every subculture has a collection of epigrams—colorful, pithy expressions that are too informal to be considered jargon, yet too common to be labeled as slang. These colorful expressions offer outsiders a glimpse into the subculture.

For example, the sports world uses the expression “the ball never lies” to explain the divine overturning of a controversial call.

If the referee calls a foul, but the shooter misses the free throw…Hey, the ball never lies.

If the referee calls a penalty, but the kicker misses the field goal…Hey, the ball never lies.

The military has a name for their collection of epigrams: milspeak. One of my milspeak favorites is “Embrace the suck.” Soldiers use the gruff expression when faced with tasks that are simultaneously unpleasant and unavoidably necessary.

Cleaning the latrine sucks. Training in the hot sun sucks. Doing a police call (milspeak for picking up trash around the barracks) sucks. Yet all those tasks are vital to military operations and must be done. The best way to proceed is to acknowledge them for what they are and then move forward.

Possessing the mental toughness to engage in unpleasant, yet unavoidably necessary tasks influences team success. Sometimes being a good teammate means embracing the suck.

But not always.

The dictionary provides three meanings for the verb embrace:

    1. To hold (in one’s arms)
    2. To accept or support
    3. To include or contain

Two of those meanings apply to good teammates; one does not.

Good teammates accept the unavoidable necessity of unpleasant tasks. They understand that tackling those tasks will not be enjoyable, but that the tasks must get done. Their understanding of the situation allows them to support whoever assigned them the task and keeps them from being resentful of the assignment.

Good teammates include the unpleasantness in their journey. They view unpleasant tasks as being part of the process, which they value because it offers them the gift of experience and perspective.

Good teammates, however, do not hold onto the unpleasantness. They recognize it, push through it, and then they let it go. They do not allow themselves to be consumed by the unpleasantness.

Alternatively stated, good teammates embrace the suck…and then they emancipate the suck. They free it from their minds. Unburdening themselves of the negativity keeps them from wasting their time complaining or being bitter.

What suck do you need to embrace to be a better teammate? What suck do you need to emancipate from your mind to keep from being bitter?

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, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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