Yesterday was “Star Wars Day.” The hashtag #MayTheFourthBeWithYou trended on social media with the speed of the Millennium Falcon zooming through hyperspace.
I posted a photo on my social media pages of my daughters and I wishing everyone a happy Star Wars Day. In the photo, we all sported our yellow “Be a Good Teammate” t-shirts. My youngest daughter wore a Princess Leia double-buns wig, while her older sister donned a Darth Vader mask.
The photo was cute and appeared to capture a fun family moment. Outside of the camera lens, however, the experience was rather unpleasant.
My daughters were being difficult. They argued over who got to wear the Princes Leia wig and who got to wear the Darth Vader mask. They argued over who got to hold the blue lightsaber and who got to hold the red lightsaber. They didn’t like where they were positioned, and they didn’t like the way the sun shined in their eyes.
Their behavior reinforced the iconic wisdom of W.C. Fields: Never work with animals or children.
The photographer (my wife) was also struggling. She couldn’t seem to get the right angle or take the photo without someone’s eyes being closed. As if all of that weren’t enough, we inadvertently stood on an anthill and were attacked by fire ants.
But the biggest problem with the photoshoot wasn’t my daughters. It wasn’t my wife. It wasn’t the fire ants nor the bright sun. It was me. My lack of patience exacerbated everyone else’s problems.
I frequently write about the need for good teammates to confront toxicity on their teams. But occasionally, the need to exercise temperance trumps the need to confront.
Good teammates practice understanding. They appreciate the difference between frustrations caused by ill-intent versus those caused by ignorance or inability. Having high standards and being demanding of our teammates can be counterproductive without practicing understanding.
My daughters weren’t trying to be difficult. They lacked the ability to behave more maturely. My wife wasn’t trying to take bad pictures. She was working with uncooperative subjects and lacked the experience of a professional photographer.
I needed to be more patient and understanding. My short-tempered reactions had turned me into a bad teammate. I was the greatest source of our team’s toxicity. Fortunately, my wife and daughters were better teammates to me than I was to them. They were able to forgive and see beyond my failures.
When I returned to our house to download the photos and treat my ant bites, I started to think about the reason behind our photoshoot—Star Wars.
The Star Wars franchise is loaded with examples of good teammates whose attributes overshadow their failures. Han Solo’s courage overshadows his recklessness. R2-D2’s bravery overshadows his stubbornness. Chewbacca’s loyalty overshadows his slowness. C-3PO’s honesty overshadows his fastidiousness. Rey’s compassion overshadows her impulsiveness.
My failure in our #MayTheFourthBeWithYou experience taught be a valuable lesson: Sometimes being a good teammate means having the patience to see beyond our teammates’ shortcomings and value their more prominent attributes. Genuine truth lies in the words of Jedi Master Yoda, “The greatest teacher, failure is.”
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.