Our kitchen cupboards are overflowing with mugs. We’re not mug collectors, but we’ve definitely amassed a substantial collection over the years. Some were given to us as gifts. Others were bought as souvenirs during our various travels.

Despite having so many mugs, my wife and I strangely tend to only use the same small handful of favorites. As it turns out, this habit isn’t as strange as I initially thought.

In a Heinz survey, nearly 60% of respondents said they have an emotional attachment to a favorite mug. About 40% said their special mug was irreplaceable, and about one-third said they would be “totally devastated” if it broke.

I was recently confronted with this reality when one of our favorite mugs, the aptly named “Friends mug,” broke.

Our cat, Mushu, jumped onto the counter and knocked over my wife’s coffee. The coffee spilled and the mug shattered. In the chaos, Mushu somehow cut his foot on the shards deep enough that we could see his bone.

The incident left us with a several hundred-dollar bill from the emergency veterinarian, a mess to clean up, and a broken favorite mug.

I loved that mug. It was the perfect size and weight. It felt good in my hands. It also had sentimental value. My wife was a big Friends fan during the show’s heyday. I got that mug for her at the Warner Brothers Studio gift shop when I visited the show’s Hollywood set.

While we were cleaning up Mushu’s mess, my wife said, “Just throw that mug away.” Her words were, admittedly, devastating to hear.

I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away, so I decided to try to glue it back together. Unfortunately, some of the fragments were too small to reattach.

The Friends mug is no longer fit for drinking coffee. However, it is capable of serving a new purpose. The Friends mug now sits on a shelf in my office as a reminder of two important facts:

  1. Unexpected problems should be expected.
  2. Just because something breaks doesn’t mean it should be discarded.

When it comes to being a good teammate, embracing the validity of both facts is imperative.

Your biggest problems are likely to be things that blindside you on idle weekday afternoons. I certainly didn’t wake up knowing  that today would be the day our cat breaks my favorite mug and requires expensive emergency surgery. How you respond to these types of problems affects your team.

If you panic, overreact, ignore, or otherwise allow yourself to be “totally devasted,” you’ll hurt your team. The better approach is to expect unexpected problems, be prepared for them, and respond accordingly and calmly when they arise. Accept their unexpectedness as part of the journey.

As far as discarding the broken, sometimes being a good teammate means finding a way to repurpose instead of replace. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with team members who are struggling.

Maybe their skills deteriorated. Maybe their personal lives compromised their productivity. Whatever the case, resist automatically thinking they need to be removed from the team.

The better approach may be to find a new role for them. Get them to understand that they used to be a cucumber, but now they’re a pickle—and they have the potential to be an incredible pickle. Providing them with this opportunity can rejuvenate their spirit and help them help your team.

By treating struggling teammates with loyalty and respect, you create a situation where when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, you’ll have teammates who will be there for you.

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.

Would you like to receive the Teammate Tuesday blog on a regular basis? Do you know someone who would? Join our mailing list for bonus insight and inspiration. You’ll never miss another edition again! Sign up here.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This