Joy is to Add Value

15 March 2019

I truly enjoy being the new member on a team. I experience both nervousness and excitement. The questions that run through my head are, “Will I fit in?” and “How might I contribute that adds value to this team?”

It may take a few weeks (or longer) to figure it out, and when I feel like I really do fit in or that I belong here, I am even more inspired to do what I can to add value. I am motivated to DO more than just be a passive participant. I am inspired to BE more, to CONTRIBUTE more to the team’s success, however that is defined and in whatever ways the team needs me

I recently talked with a teammate who is leaving soon because he accepted a job elsewhere. He shared how excited he was to start at his new job. It was a fresh start for him, and I could relate to his excitement despite feeling somewhat sad to lose someone in the position of leadership on our team. He stated to me, with pride, that leaving will have minimal impact on the command or even his department because his team runs itself. He stated his role was for the most part, “easily replaceable”. Our conversation left me a bit perplexed, and a little envious.

When I belong to a team, I want to make a UNIQUE contribution. I strive to remain RELEVANT. I do not mistake this with being the “single point of failure”, or being the only person who can fulfill this role. It is not about ego or pride. It is about ADDING VALUE to others and to the team in a MEANINGFUL way. I want the team to succeed BECAUSE of me, rather than DESPITE of me. I want to contribute, as Seth Godin would describe, “remarkably”.

I understand that not everyone views their role on a team this way. In fact, most teammates do not. And much like my teammate above, there are many who are satisfied or content with simply doing just what is necessary to be on the team, paying their dues.

Another teammate recently told me she was fine with being an “average” teammate. As long as she felt she did her best, she was content. She stated that the (self-induced) pressure to contribute oneself in a significant way to the team, to be “excellent” or be “remarkable” was simply not something she desired to achieve everyday while on her various “teams”. She only had so much energy or so much of herself to give.

I get it (I think)… Average is average for a reason, and for the majority of those on a team, shooting for the minimum (or just above it) may sometimes be all they are capable of or simply what they wish to contribute. Again, there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, there are many days I wish I had this mindset. I envy those who do.

All too often I am told that I care too much, and that I simply need to learn to let certain things go (even though we agree that it would be better for the team in the long run). However, the team is simply not yet ready for it, and maybe they never will be.

I have learned that despite how heart-breaking and difficult it may be, the decision to leave might actually be the best way to add value to the team. I have had to make this decision most recently. It is not my first, nor will it be my last. And every time, it has been a humbling experience. Yet, I know the decision is the right one – for me and the team.

It is also very liberating for everyone involved. It provides the freedom to explore new opportunities of adding value, and it this exploring that makes it so enjoyable. And when I feel like I truly belong, I will always seek to add value the only way I know how… the remarkable way!


  1. Are you content with average contributions to the team?
  2. How might you add value to others? To the team?
  3. Does your membership on a team add value or will leaving it?

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