How you play the game matters. In this instance, I’m not referring to anything related to sportsmanship or effort. (Although sportsmanship and effort are important!) I’m referring to the strategy of sacrificing individual achievement for the greater accolades that come through team achievement.

Think of an athlete forsaking a higher scoring average so that his or her team can win a championship.

Regular Teammate Tuesday readers know that I live near Walt Disney World in Florida. One of my favorite Disney World attractions is Toy Story Mania, an interactive 4D ride/game themed around the Disney-Pixar Toy Story movies.

Toy Story Mania transports players via spinning vehicles through a series of virtual carnival games. Players score points by shooting moving targets of varying values. The objective is to score as many points as possible before the ride ends, making it advantageous for players to go after targets that are worth more points.

The key to achieving the game’s highest scores, however, lies in unlocking Easter Eggs—secret high-valued targets—hidden within the game. Working with your ride vehicle partner increases the chances of you accessing these secret targets.

For example, unlocking the Easter Egg in Toy Story Mania’s fourth segment, Buzz Lightyear’s Flying Tossers, requires players to clear the low-value targets on the rocket ship in the middle of the screen. Once cleared, the rocket ship will launch, revealing a massive robot. Players can then quickly score a bevy of points by rapidly tossing rings into the robot’s mouth.

A recent experience with a partner who was unaware of this Easter Egg reminded me of how much Toy Story Mania is an exercise in the art of being a good teammate.

Before we began the ring toss segment, I told my partner we needed to both concentrate on hitting the targets on the rocket ship first. She initially complied, but then a higher value target would pop up off to the side of the rocket ship that she couldn’t resist shooting.

Timing is crucial to unlocking the ring toss Easter Egg. The problem with my partner shooting the high-value pop up targets was that every time she hit one the targets on the rocket ship would reset—which caused us to eventually run out of time.

Shooting the pop-up targets increased her individual score, but not sticking together prevented us from unlocking the Easter Egg. Proverbially, she hung me out to dry.

I couldn’t clear the rocket ship targets on my own. Continuing to try to do so would’ve been objectively counterproductive and resulted in me having a low individual score since the rocket ship targets had low values.

My partner’s actions compelled me to abandon the Easter Egg and also pursue the higher-value pop up targets—which ultimately resulted in both of us achieving mediocre scores instead of our highest possible scores.

In terms of culpability, my partner’s Toy Story Mania teamwork failure came from her not committing to clearing the rocket ship. But her failure shouldn’t overshadow my not explaining why she needed to focus on clearing the rocket ship.

A good teammate would’ve been sure to do so. How you play the game matters. But so does explaining why it needs to be played a certain way.

I should have reminded her of Buzz Lightyear’s famous words: “The important thing is that we stick together.”

Similarly frustrating situations often play out on underachieving teams. When team members fail to resist the allure of individual accolades, mediocrity can be the expected outcome.

Good teammates aren’t distracted by individual accolades that come at the expense of team objectives. They remain disciplined, focused on doing whatever is necessary to help their teams achieve.

The great irony is that their resisting the allure of individual accolades usually results in their securing a legacy that lasts for infinity and beyond.

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. 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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