Do you believe every word you say matters?

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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