Posts Tagged ‘Team member’

Part 1: Being a Great Team Member: Owning Your Space

There he was, Lucas Macdonald, standing in the middle of the street.  There I was, on my bicycle stopped at the traffic light, tears streaming down my face.


It was a little after 8:15 AM at the corner of Anderson Road and Rutgers Drive in Davis, California.  I was on my morning bike ride.  The school bell at the elementary school across the street would sound in less than ten minutes.  Parents and children – walking, biking and driving – were arriving en mass.  Commuters were rushing to work.  University students were on the way to classes.  The street was full.  It was chaos.


Except for Lucas.  He literally stopped traffic.  And how he did it moved me to tears.


Lucas Macdonald is 27.  He’s not someone you would likely notice if he passed by on the street.  His hair is held back in a long pony tail.  He rides a bike to work, in shorts and a black shirt, barefoot.  Once at work – a job he’s held for over five years – he changes into sandals, puts on his reflective vest and pulls out the tool of his trade – a beat up, hand-held, red stop sign.


Lucas is the neighborhood crossing guard.  And he owns this intersection.  It’s his job to keep the crossing children – sometimes attentive, sometimes distracted – safe.  He manages the traffic lights, trots (yes, literally trots) out to his spot in the middle of the street all the while holding his stop sign high over his head.  Back and forth from north-south to east-west, he speeds, leading the way across the street and holding back traffic.  He exudes an easy confidence and a relaxed energy that is a joy to watch.


Owning your space is critical to being a successful team member.  According to Shambhala Buddhism,[1] there are several aspects to owning your space (or “arranging the throne of the king” as it’s called).

  1. Be a citizen.  Know you belong to the team and the people who compose it.
  2. Take your place.  You have a role on the team, know it, claim it and bring your whole-hearted energy to it.
  3. Know your importance.  You don’t have to be the official leader to be important.  Each team member has an integral part to play.


Lucas epitomizes these principles.  He belongs to the community of that intersection.  If he were absent, he’d be missed – not just by the kids he protects, but by the people who drive by and love watching him at work.  He owns his work, in a way that I’ve never seen another crossing guard own the work before.  His display of energy and joy moved me to tears that morning.  It’s not a possessive “owning” that would distract from the job, but a joyful embodiment of it.  A way that fills the space fully.  Finally, he knows his importance.  It was really quite simple.  When I told him how impressed I was by his ownership of the intersection, he laughed, “Well if I don’t own the intersection, the cars won’t stop.”


Think of the teams you are a member of.  Do you own your place on them?  If you do, then know you are a thing of beauty…that can stop traffic, literally and metaphorically.

[1] A form of secular Tibetan Buddhism.

This article was published in the Davis Enterprise:

Judith MacBrine dba The Mirror Group © Copyright 2012