What are you going to do for your team today?

It’s pretty easy to sometimes get run down, annoyed, disappointed, or just tired of your job after a less-than-ideal day. (Worse yet, when you realize on your commute home that sometime between your walk in and tie walk out of the office,you lost your–albeit dirt-cheap–earbuds and now have no way to listen to music on the Metro! This situation qualifies as a first-world problem, right?) Soon enough, you may find yourself slipping into a rotten mood, or at the very least, wrapped up in the problem(s) if the day and what this means for you.

As the ear bud calamity of 2015 may demonstrate, I’ve recently had such a day. Lucky for me, I encountered a wonderful piece in  Business Insider on Houghton Mifflin Harcourt CEO Linda K. Zecher.

This pearl of wisdom came to her right after she had graduated from Ohio State University and landed her first job at Texas Instruments.

“A mentor of mine there was a former admiral. He told me, ‘Every day when you go to work, you should ask yourself, What am I going to do for the fleet today?,” she recalled. “And every day when you go home, you should ask yourself, What have I done for the fleet today?’”

The term fleet doesn’t resonate with me in the same way that “team” does, so I consider these questions with a slight modification in the subject and in the tense:

  • What are you going to do for your team today?
  • What have you done for your team today?
  • What will you do for them tomorrow?

This way of thinking certainly shifts the focus away from the possibly self-absorbed individual and reframes success in the context of a team. So you’ve had a bad day? What have you done to better your workplace?

As I’m interested in making the most out of my commute, I’ll work hard to build these questions into my commuting: to reflect on what I want to do to better my team, and what I have done to benefit my team.

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