About a year ago, a fire broke out in a conservation area in my neighborhood. The spark from a landscaper’s mower ignited some dry grass, which quickly spread to the adjacent trees.

I watched in disbelief as flames shot high into the air and the beautiful leafy trees and surrounding brush turned an ashy black.

Fortunately, firefighters were able to contain the blaze and keep it from spreading to any of the nearby houses. But the trees were destroyed—or so I thought.

On my daily walks, I often pass by the conservation area where the fire happened. I noticed a rebirth of sorts recently as new foliage has started to miraculously grow from the charred remains.

Arborists documented similar occurrences after wildfires ravaged California’s Big Basin Redwood Forest in 2020. A post-fire study revealed that the iconic trees sprouted new growth by tapping into previously unknown carbon reserves.

Through photosynthesis, trees convert carbon from the atmosphere into energy that is used for growth. But as the Redwood study showed, trees can apparently also store this energy in reserves for emergency use.

Carbon reserves are how trees survive fires that destroy the trees’ foliage and, as a result, their ability to photosynthesize.

When you’re a good teammate, someone will at some point take advantage of your kindness. If it’s not your kindness, it’ll be your generosity or honesty or compassion or one of the many other admirable attributes that make you a good teammate.

Being taken advantage of can leave you feeling burned. It can cause you to become withdrawn, jaded, and scorned. It can harden your heart and destroy your desire to be helpful.

Instead of allowing the experience to evoke those responses, steal a page from the burned trees’ playbook and tap into your “carbon reserves.”

Think of the times your teammates benefited from your kindness. Think of the ways your kindness has positively impacted their lives. Think of those who are aware of and grateful for what you did for them.

The memories of positive outcomes are the human equivalent of carbon reserves. Just like the burned trees, tapping into them is how you survive being burned and recover from being taken advantage of.

Burned landscapes will sometimes explode with thousands of flowers years after the fires end. Nutrients from charred trees enrich the soil and the forest floor is exposed to more sunlight, creating the perfect conditions for germination.

Ecologists refer to this rare, vibrant, breathtakingly beautiful phenomenon as a “superbloom.”

Teammates who persevere through the unpleasantness of being taken advantage of are likely to witness a superbloom of their own. One day, they’ll step back and realize the extent of all the good that has come from their choosing to remain good teammates.

And the sight will be equally beautiful.

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 and the creator National Be a Good Teammate Day (July 22nd). He is a former sports coach turned bestselling 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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