Have you ever said something without realizing the consequences of who it might affect? Your intent of saying something was never meant to be disrespectful or hurtful to anyone; however, sometimes this happens – especially in the thrills of competition. The competition in the business world and the competition in the athletic world can create amazing moments and tough moments for all personalities. It can bring out the best in a person and the worst at the same time. Regardless, in the end, I always believe that winning does matter. Not winning the game or the overall score, but the relationships you win in life. Throughout my life, I’ve seen incredible business coaches as well as wonderful athletic coaches who helped shape who I am today. Playing football in high school and in college, I learned so many life altering lessons along the way in terms of humility, resiliency, adversity and overall leadership. My high school football coach, Marty Osborn, was the poster child of always saying the right thing to get the most out of his athletes. His leadership greatly influenced my life. My college football coach, Beau Baldwin, was also incredibly inspirational and taught me so many great skills that I now pass down and teach to the youth athletes that I coach. One thing that both coaches taught me is that we are always learning and growing. When you fall short, you have to own your mistakes and look for ways to improve. Win or lose, what did you learn that you can improve on next time? I love that I have the opportunity to coach young athletes and business professionals in my line of work. My goal is to teach life skills to my young athletes in hopes that one day they will become well rounded adults and talented business professionals. ILet me share a story that taught me the valuable lesson that every word you say does matter. In a recent basketball game that was intensely competitive, I called a time out during a crucial point of the game. Emotions were high and the game was close. My team was losing by 3 points with only :34 seconds left to play. I had just substituted in one of my players when the opposing team called a timeout. I decided to change the lineup and told the recently substituted player that I needed someone else to go in to provide us more speed as a team. Let’s stop there. Was my intent of saying that to put our team in the best spot to win? Yes. Was my intent to be disrespectful or hurtful to a player’s confidence? Never! Unfortunately, the player who I subbed for was hurt. She lacked the speed I needed but my message was not clear nor motivating to her. She is a competitor, but was hurt. Thankfully one of my assistant coaches had the courage to let me know what happened and to be mindful of the situation. I couldn’t be more thankful for his heartfelt message and it taught me a great lesson in how things can easily be misunderstood. This was a great learning lesson in life for me as it relates to coaching. I learned as a leader and coach that every word I say matters. Everything I say or do is looked at which can be either negatively or positively received for these young athletes. The human traits of humility and vulnerability inspire me daily. This moment was a great opportunity to accept my mistake or make excuses. I chose humility and accepted responsibility. The strength I felt inside after addressing these emotions head on was very gratifying by owning my mistake and talking with my assistant coach and player. Every word you say matters. Be mindful of your situation. Always remember it is your responsibility to create and foster the environment you expect. As parents, leaders, or coaches, the communication to our team and players is up to us. We must always be mindful to ensure we build a positive and energetic environment. In closing, karma was on my side today. After addressing this challenge head on, a parent from one of the opposing teams I coached against came up to me and said “You were one of the most positive coaches my daughter has played against.” In my all years of coaching, I have never had a parent from the opposing team pay me a compliment which felt very rewarding. Conversations and moments like that make all of this learning worth it! Writing this was not easy but it felt good to share my thoughts. I hope that I have encouraged you to be thoughtful of your environment as a parent, a business leader or a coach. It’s now your turn to share your thoughts or a story of how you believe that every word you say does matter.

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Whenever he spoke, it was with a gentle voice. Even when he chastises me, his voice was soft most of the time. He was never harsh to me. One day, he came home sad. The lorry he used to support his rental business had been stolen. It was driven away in the mechanic’s workshop. Two of his personal cars had crashed earlier, at different times in a month.

The loss of the lorry took its toll on the family’s economy. He couldn’t deliver orders of chairs and tables for occasions with his own vehicle. Gradually, orders went down till the business experienced a near-collapse. He was left only with his bank job to cater for his family. Despite the predicament, he never showed any sign of frustration. Remarkably, he never transferred any sort of aggression to his wife and kids.

Whenever he came home from work; late in the night, I would have slept off on the brown rug in the sitting room. After taking his meal, he would always carry me into the bedroom he shared with mummy. ******** In one of those conventional nights, my father came back from work around 9.30 PM. On a normal day, I would have slept off because I’d to prepare for school the next day. But holiday was fast approaching. We had finished our exams and had gotten our report cards. When I got mine, I was worried. I had dropped from the third position to the tenth in class. I reasoned that the family’s slumping economy had affected me.

Though I was a boy, I could sense that all was not well. I’d heard mummy and my father argue a few times over money. Mummy had always accused him of being an obstinate person. She would always make reference to when he converted one of the personal cars of the family against her wishes into a taxi and it eventually got damaged in the accident.

I could feel the effect of the slump through the food I was served. I used to have huge chunks of meat in my plate but all of a sudden I started seeing small pieces. Shopping was no longer regular as before. My father couldn’t afford the game stations I saw with other kids.

That night, I was uneasy as I saw my father walk into the sitting room. I ran to him and he carried me close to his chest.

When he carried me to his chest, he didn’t notice the blandness in my face. He didn’t know something was wrong until my mother announced it as he sat down on the settee. ‘Lanre’ mummy called. ‘You ought to have reported yourself.’ ‘What’s the matter?’ my father asked with genuine concern; his eyes narrowed on me. ‘What’s the problem?’ ‘Oya go and bring your report card,’ mummy said. When I handed it over to him, he was shocked. ‘Lanre what happened to you?’ I didn’t know what to say. I just stared blankly, thinking about how I’d let him down. ‘Ahan, but you came third last term and now you are tenth in class. What’s the matter my boy. It’s like you have been playing too much. What’s the matter—‘ ‘I don’t’ know Daddy,’ I answered. ‘I-I-I tried but… I don’t know’ He called me to come closer to him. When I did, he carried me on his laps. ‘Lanre, you have to do better next time. You know I believe in you. The girl that takes first position is not better than you. You can beat her if you put more effort into reading your book. Trust me, you can do it next time.’ Though I felt I’d failed myself, his words fired me up for the next term. ******** Things never got better.

In fact, it worsened when he retired voluntarily from his stressful bank job. I wondered and asked God why bad things happen to good people. His gratuity was sunk into a failed business of importing electronics. He couldn’t reinvigorate his old business too. All he had left was his pension, which was a paltry sum.

Mummy had quit her job when she had her third child. I was the fifth and the last, so all my life, I’d known her as a housewife, although with some petty businesses by the side. So my father had always shouldered all the responsibility including giving me and my siblings the quality education we needed. That was all I needed in life.

Born in Lagos, Seun Ogunbiyi grew up drawing Super Heroes, especially the Ninja Turtles. While studying English in the University of Lagos, he was inspired to improve his various literary drafts. He currently lives in Abuja, working as a civil servant and working hard to publish his long-held debut novel: Ojo Veracruz.

My early childhood years were turbulent. A broken family, a custody war, to say the least, an unstable start in life. My father and I were both broken, unsure, unsettled, and left to navigate a new life, him as a single father, and myself as a child feeling like a tossed rag doll going from place to place. As far back as I can remember, my father brought me to church. Whether I attended Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Missionettes, or he was leading the Royal Rangers in our local church, attending prayer vigils, we were in church. The church was our family. My father kept busy working around the house. Building decks, pigeon coups, putting up paneling, stuccoing walls, or ceilings, putting in linoleum flooring in apartments for new tenants who lived in our four-family house. My father involved me in his projects. Whether it was to grab him a hammer, box of nails, hold up a piece of paneling or talk to me about his baby pigeons that were soon to hatch, we spent time together. My father did not lavish our conversations with a lot of encouragement or uplifting accolades if anything he was more negative. Encouragement was scarce. His lack of encouragement left a big empty void in my life. Most of the time I was left feeling not good enough. Most of my life I spent battling an emotional emptiness within myself. If my father didn’t have anything positive to say towards me, how could God, my Abba Father, see anything worthwhile in me? However, he did always encourage one important lesson no matter what the situation was. Every time we talked it was the same lesson, He encouraged me to look past the human element going beyond the man/person and see Christ. He pointed me to the cross. He directed me to seek God. Father’s are not perfect is what he was telling me, in his not many words or direct words but I get it now. As a child sometimes you don’t fully understand why a parent does or doesn’t do certain things or why they say what they say along the way. As I got older, being a parent/grandparent I realized why he did certain things. He may not have been an encouraging father. He may have been harsh at times, but he showed me how to look to God as the source for all I needed. It took some hard roads to get it. I thank God, I got it. We can not expect another person to give us what we need to heal our wounds, only God can give us healing. He is the source. He is the answer for any and all voids in our lives.

Through many years of “self-worth” struggles to find value in myself, trying to fill a void I didn’t fully even understand myself, it was in my father’s sudden passing away, facing how short this one life we have to live can be, I had to get serious about what direction I would take for my future. I leaned on every word that he said, everything he taught me, putting my focus 100% towards the cross. I had a light bulb turn-around moment. It was then, I realized my father had given me the most wonderful gift you could ever give your daughter or son as a father. He pointed me to the one who knows the way, fills the voids, gives us our identity, values us, loves us, calls us his friend, his children, and no matter who our earthly father is, no matter what our earthly fathers may lack, we have a heavenly father who gives us exceedingly more than any earthly father could ever give. I found my true value and worth in my heavenly identity making me whole giving me peace, love, and a joy-filled life. I would encourage every father to speak words that are lovingly mixed with the godly instruction that will remain for eternity. Father’s are vital in the role they play in their children’s lives. Encouragement is extremely important. Encourage. Uplift. Spend time together. Teach your child to value and respect themselves. Validate and support them. Children need to hear positive affirmations because it molds their personal perspective on who they are shaping how they will view God as their heavenly father. Encourage your daughters and sons to look to the cross everything else God takes care of.

Sharmaine has been married for thirty-one years and is a mother of four wonderful children and a grandmother of two adorable grandsons. She thanks God every day for the life He has so graciously given to her. She is truly blessed. She is also a blogger. She has two blogs and is a children's book author. The title of her self-published book is "It's all silly, says Tilly." It is written in a fun light way addressing the serious issue of teasing and bullying but speaks to the importance of valuing others and their differences showing how kindness and friendship are important. She also has an author page on Facebook ~ Sharmaine Bernard. Her link to her blogs are: which is an extension of her artistic author side and her pointing others to the cross with Christ's love blog. God is good! She hopes to continue to use her writing for God's kingdom and to help others young, old, boy, girl, man, or woman to see their value through God's view. God Bless!