Florida is blessed with lots of interesting birds, many of which I had never encountered before I moved to the Sunshine state. The Sandhill Crane falls into this category.

I am not much of a birdwatcher. I tend to view birds the way Orson Welles viewed art (“I don’t know anything about art, but I know what I like.”). I like the Sandhill Crane.

Standing at about 48-inches tall, the Sandhill Crane is one of the biggest birds in North America. Its tall, skinny, knobby legs are attached to an oval-shaped feathery middle that tapers into a long slender neck. The bird’s beak is nearly twice the length of its head.

Bigger birds are usually flightless, but Sandhill Cranes can fly. Seeing them fly is an unforgettable experience. Each flap of their massive wings makes a distinct thumping sound, accompanied by an even more distinct billowing caw. I imagine the experience to be similar to what it would have been like to have pterodactyls fly overhead.

Most of my encounters with Sandhill Cranes have occurred during walks through my neighborhood. Sandhill Cranes have moxie—a unique blend of determination, courage, and bravado. They are not easily frightened. If you happen upon one, don’t expect it to step aside or fly away.

When Sandhill Cranes cross a street, they aren’t bothered by onlookers or approaching traffic. A toot of the horn would clear most wildlife from the path, but not the Sandhill Cranes. They move at their own pace. I once saw a semi-tractor-trailer blow its horn at a group of Sandhill Cranes who refused to hurry across an intersection. The birds were unphased.

Crane-versus-vehicle standoffs offer applicable perspectives on both confidence and arrogance. How can someone not appreciate the confidence of a bird refusing to back down from a semi-tractor-trailer truck that could drive over the bird without even denting its bumper?

To be an effective teammate, you must exude confidence.

Your confidence level is contagious and influences those around you. If you appear nervous, worried, or frightened, you validate your teammates’ anxiety and give them permission to be nervous, worried, or frightened. Whereas if you project confidence, you calm their natural reactions to adversity. Your confidence injects others with hope.

While the Sandhill Cranes’ behavior is admirable, it is also appalling. Their refusal to back down from the semi-tractor-trailer is laced with arrogance. The birds are either oblivious to how easily the truck could crush them, or they are taking advantage of the driver’s kindness.

Whichever the case, Sandhill Cranes don’t seem to mind inconveniencing others. By moving so leisurely and making traffic wait, they are sending the message that their time is more important than everyone else’s—a mindset that is selfish and arrogant.

To be an effective teammate, you must never allow your confidence to encroach the borders of arrogance.

Arrogant teammates are disruptive. They polarize their teams. They’re cavalier with risks. They overpower instead of empower. As much as confidence magnetizes, arrogance repulses.

Good teammates can project confidence without transmitting arrogance by being sincere and practicing intentional awareness. Acknowledge the danger, weigh the risks, and act accordingly with courage. Let your confidence stem from your genuine love for your team.

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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