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Sometimes I am asked why I use good teammate instead of great teammate. That’s a great question.

The simple explanation has to do with the origins of my children’s book, Be a Good Teammate. At the time of its writing, my eldest daughter had just started kindergarten and was learning to read using sight words.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, sight words, or Dolch words, are a collection of common words that children learn to recognize without sounding out the letters. My daughter’s teacher had sent home a list of sight words they were learning in class and I tried to include words from that list in my book.

So, the simple answer is that good was on my daughter’s sight word list and great wasn’t.

I continue to use good, however, for more abstract reasons. As time passed, I realized that good provides a better representation of the type of individual to whom I am referring.

Great implies varying degrees of aptitude. In other words, how skilled are you?

Comparatively, good is more binary. Good is on/off. Good is like being pregnant—either you are or you aren’t. There is no sliding scale.

Either you consistently act in accordance with what is best for your team, or you don’t. If you do, you meet the expectation and can be considered a good teammate. If you don’t, you can’t.

For some, that standard is a hard to embrace. They don’t want to think of themselves from a binary perspective. They prefer a sliding scale because they know they act in accordance with what is best for their team occasionally, some of the time, or most of the time. But not all the time.

Team members who fall into this category lean toward situational assessments. They tend to measure their actions based on how others behave, as opposed to holding themselves accountable to the standard.

Being a good teammate means you choose the option that is best for your team, regardless of personal preference, self-interests, inconvenience, or comfort zones. And you choose that option every time you have a choice.

Obviously, being a good teammate is a process. It’s OK to be a work in progress as long as you continue to attempt to uphold the standard.

On a side note, I think an ancillary benefit of using good instead of great is that, psychologically, people are more apt to try to pursue good. Right or wrong, the possibility of being great can seem overwhelming. Good sounds much more attainable. Anybody can strive for good, which is fitting because anybody can be a good teammate.

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


Holiday Fun!

Promote the holiday season while encouraging kids to be good teammates! Download this printable holiday coloring page for FREE by clicking on the link below. Send photos of completed pages to info@coachloya.com to be entered into a drawing for a Good Teammate t-shirt. (*Entry deadline is December 18, 2020.)

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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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