NFL’s First Female Coach: 3 Tips for Breaking Barriers

NFL’s First Female Coach: 3 Tips for Breaking Barriers

By Richelle Feigin

Jen Welter smashed through the glass ceiling when she played as a running back for the Texas Revolution football team, and became the first female to coach in the NFL. At the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Summit and Salute Lunch in Phoenix, Arizona, she told her story, describing the challenges that she faced as a woman in a male-dominated industry.

She didn’t let her differences stop her from doing what no one thought could be done. In fact, she succeeded in the ultimate boys’ club. Instead of trying to compete with the men in the industry, she surrounded herself with reputable athletes, took pages from their playbooks and added her voice to the conversation. As a result, the men believed in her, gave her their respect and helped her make history.

Welter provided the following advice to those seeking to break barriers:

  • Play to your strengths. In order to maximize your potential and produce the results that you’re capable of, you must know your strengths. Self-assessment or candid advice from a mentor can also help you identify your vulnerable areas so that you can work around—or overcome—them.
  • Know your worth. What do you love? What are you great at doing? Where do you want to be in five years? Ten years? Knowing what you have to offer—whether it’s experience, creativity, or a knack for teamwork—means you can convincingly argue your worth.
  • Take more risks. You can’t be afraid to rock the boat—you have to be someone who sees opportunity where others see danger. Be willing to explore new ventures and stretch beyond your comfort zone.  As Mark Twain said: “Go out on a limb—that’s where the fruit is!”

Before concluding her presentation, Welter encouraged audience members to challenge themselves and break through the barriers that prevent them from pursuing their dreams. “When you live your life for passion, it might not make sense to a lot of people,” she explained, “but it will pay off big time, so remember that your worth is priceless.”

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