Spring breakers have ascended on the Sunshine State! Resorts, beaches, and amusement parks are packed with northerners seeking reprieve from the cold. To Floridians, the expression “March Madness” isn’t exclusive basketball.
My grandmother took my brother, cousin, and me on a spring break trip to Florida when I was in junior high. The trip was memorable for many reasons, not the least of which was me acquiring the worst sunburn of my life.
During our trip, we went to Wet ‘n Wild—one of the largest water parks in the nation at that time. My grandmother dropped the three of us off at the gate with instruction to meet her back at the same spot when the park closed.
With sunglasses and towels in tow, we headed off for a day of fun. It didn’t take long, however, for us to realize that we had made a regrettable mistake. We brought our sunglasses and towels but forgot our sunscreen.
The sun was starting to toast our pasty-white, northern skin. We found a kiosk in the park that sold sunscreen, but (as often is the case) the prices were outrageously high. Reluctantly, we spent some of the lunch money our grandmother had given us on the smallest, cheapest product they sold—something called “tanning oil.”
Throughout the rest of the day, we lathered ourselves in tanning oil. Every time we took a break from the pool, we rubbed on another layer. Needless to say, we didn’t tan; we burned.
When my grandmother returned to pick us up, she stared at us in disbelief. She knew instantly that the remainder of our trip wasn’t going to be nearly as enjoyable.
I went to bed completely miserable that night. I woke up the next morning to find my skin a not-so-subtle shade of fire engine red, covered in sunburn blisters, and on the receiving end of my grandmother’s what-were-you-thinking glare.
The lesson to be learned from my tanning oil incident is as much about ignorance, as it is the importance of warding off harmful UV rays.
We were old enough to know we needed protection from the sun, but not wise enough to know the difference between sunscreen and suntan oil. What we earnestly believed was preventing harm was making matters worse—and we were oblivious to our ignorance.
By the time we recognized our error, it was too late. The damage was already done.
Team members who are oblivious to their own ignorance are a hazard to a winning culture. It doesn’t matter how noble or pure your intentions, if what you’re doing is hurting the team, internal conflict will ensue.
Good teammates practice intentional self-awareness. By setting their pride aside, seeking the wisdom of others, and having the courage to discover their faults, they keep their ignorance from becoming willful ignorance.
Think about your habits and your interactions with your teammates. Is there anything you’re doing that you assume is helping your team but may actually be hurting it? Choosing to learn that reality can keep your team from being burned.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.