I was working with a group of corporate leaders who were engaged in a heated discussion about how they should handle a shady business practice of their top competitor.
One leader thought the appropriate response was to do to their competitor what their competitor was doing to them. He justified his line of thinking with the all too familiar “An eye for and eye…”
Another leader opposed that response, believing it to be unethical and beneath their company. He countered the first suggestion by quoting Mahatma Gandhi: “An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.”
Sensing the escalating tension, a third leader quipped, “Well, I guess the eyes have it.”
The exchange, including the third leader’s witty interjection, caused me to think about how crucial our eyes are to being a good teammate. Good teammates look each other in the eyes when they speak. They listen with their ears and their eyes. And they keep an eye out for struggling teammates.
Here are four other prominent “eye” quotes that apply to the art of being a good teammate:
1. “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.”
Though often credited to poet Oscar Wilde (1890), variations of this expression about interpreting beauty can also found in Shakespeare’s Love Labours Lost (1588) and Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack (1741).
Good teammates aren’t charmed by the superficial. They appreciate other perspectives and respect the idea that an individual’s true beauty stems from what’s on the inside. Good teammates judge people by the size of their heart (i.e., their being in The WE gear), not the clothes they wear, the color of their skin, or any other inconsequential markers.
2. “The eyes are the windows to your soul.”
The origins of this quote are somewhat of a mystery, as well. Shakespeare, Da Vinci, and Cicero have all been cited as being the original orator. Regardless of who should get credit, the quote holds tremendous truth about a good teammate’s authenticity.
When you peer into a good teammate’s eyes, you see sincerity. The purity of their intentions is evident. You immediately know they have no hidden agendas or ulterior motives. They are committed to doing whatever is best for their team.
3. “I can’t shave with my eyes closed.”
No debate surrounds who said this quote. Carl Winslow, the fictional policeman portrayed by Reginald VelJohnson on the sitcom Family Matters, said it in episode 10 when explaining why he refused to take a bribe.
Good teammates do not compromise their integrity. They’re able to look at the person staring back at them in the mirror without shame or regret.
4. “Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”
Theodore Roosevelt delivered these words in an early twentieth century speech prior to becoming president of the United States. The speech’s purpose was to remind people to remain humble and be practical.
Good teammates are goal-driven. They have a growth mindset. But they are also ego-less. They don’t allow success to go to their head or prevent them from serving the needs of their teams.
If none of the above “eye” quotes happen to resonate with you, consider that when it comes to good teammates, the eyes do indeed have it. Good teammates have the eye of the tiger, they’re the apple of their leader’s eye, they keep their eye on the prize, they don’t turn a blind eye to bad behaviors, and their addition can change a team’s culture in the blink of an eye.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.