Off-season Spotlight of the Month: Jennifer Garrett Moves the Ball
I discovered the flurry of activity that is Jennifer A. Garrett on Twitter. Her passion for football and her ability to connect with others really impressed me. So much so, I asked her to be this month’s off-season spotlight.
Jennifer is an internationally recognized author, life coach, and motivational speaker. She enjoys showing others how they can accomplish their dreams and achieve greatness. While she uses multiple subjects to teach individuals how to attain their goals, she often uses the game of football to illustrate the principles needed to win both on and off the field.
I was certainly keen on Jen’s work before interviewing her. Now, after getting to know her and discovering that we have quite a bit in common, I’m absolutely a fan. I’m pretty you’ll feel the same way!
What’s your football story? How did you first become a fan?
I was an only child and didn’t have a pack of brothers to teach me about football. Nor did I have a dad or an uncle who coached or played the game. As a kid, I stayed indoors a lot. To entertain myself, I started watching a lot of football. I began watching when I was four years old and immediately fell in love with it. The game was very intriguing to me. The wild plays and unpredictable outcomes fascinated me. I learned so much from the game growing up. The principles I took away really helped me to be successful in my personal and professional goals.
You currently reside in Michigan, but have lived all over the country. How does that affect which team(s) you root for?
I grew up in Chicago. As such, I have always and will always root for the Chicago Bears. Da Bears! Need I say more?
What inspired you to write your book, MOVE THE BALL?
I’m passionate about three things: football, writing, and motivating others. I was at the NFC North Championship game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers when I got the inspiration to write the book. Football has been such a large part of my success that I felt called to share with others what football has taught me over the years.
In MOVE THE BALL, you explain that the principles needed to win the game of football are similar to those needed to win the game of life. Can you give me a few specific examples?
Of course! First, you have to imagine that you are the quarterback on your own life’s football field. Whatever goal you have set for yourself is in the end zone. Your mission is to move the ball forward and cross the goal line. You need to keep your eye on the ball and focus on getting that next first down. But remember, you’re not alone on that field. You have your team with you. But also on that field, you have your opponents. Those people in your life who want to prevent you from making forward progress. They are the players in your life who intentionally want you to fail and will take steps to make that happen. These are people who I refer to as “blitzers.” Your job is to recognize they exist on your field. You recognize the blitz, adjust to the blitz, and beat the blitz to keep moving the ball forward. Additionally, there are unforeseen circumstances that hit you in life, just like a quarterback getting hit by the blindside. Once you get knocked down, you job is to get back up. Also in the book there are principles that I call, M.A.D. P.R.I.D.E. These are elements that separate the good athletes from the great. Of course, I’m not going to spell these out here. You’ll have to read the book to find out what they are!
What is your definition of “winning at life?”
Great question. My definition of winning at life is the ability to set goals for yourself and accomplish them despite the obstacles and challenges that may arise. This definition is very broad because defining what it means to win is going to be different for everyone. Each of us has different values, different priorities, and different aspirations in life. So what you define as being in your personal end zone is going to be unique to you. Winning is having the courage to make forward progress towards those goals. No matter what defenders may get in your way, you need to have the drive and the determination to keep moving forward. You also need to know when it’s time to make adjustments. Winning means not giving up, and no matter how many times it takes to get into that end zone, you keep going. It’s not how you start the game, it’s how you finish.
Is there a current or former NFL player who you think embodies the spirit of your book? Someone who has triumphed both on and off the field?
Walter Payton immediately comes to mind. Not only was he a phenomenal athlete on the field, but he was also a great person off the field. “Sweetness” was a team player and always looked out for others. He was an all-around classy guy.
As a mother of four will you/have you encouraged your kids to play tackle football? Do you believe the potential safety/health risks are outweighed by the lessons that the game teaches young people?
My oldest, Anfernee, is currently seventeen and he played Varsity football. My other three children are girls and they seem to be focused on sports like gymnastics and cheerleading. But it’s important to note that you don’t have to actually play the game of tackle football to learn its lessons. Watching from the sidelines also provides valuable insights. So whether you are on the football field, or watching from the stands (or from your living room couch), the lessons are still there.
The most inspirational gift I have received is helping others connect the dots for themselves. I have been fortunate enough to speak to many large groups and by using football as an analogy have helped them to accomplish their goals. What really touches me is when people come up to me and tell me how they are going to focus on a goal as the result of our session together. Knowing that I can impact someone like that is incredible. Helping someone get fired up about achieving their dreams is one the most rewarding things I’ve done with my life.
Do you try to interest other women in the game? If so, how?
Absolutely. I’ve been blessed with opportunities to speak to women-only groups where I show them how the principles of football have been able to help me succeed as a woman. Whether it’s surviving in a male-dominated workplace or facing the challenges of motherhood and single-parenting, by connecting the game of football to these situations, I am also hoping that I draw women to the sport. In addition to public speaking seminars, I am always talking to women about “Sunday Funday” and trying to interest them in the game.
As an author, motivational speaker, business woman, and mother, you’ve accomplished so much. That said, I have a feeling that you’re not about to slow down. What’s up next for you?
I am currently working on my sixth degree, through the University Of Alabama School Of Law. I’m also working on my second book, which I hope to complete later this year. And more importantly, what’s next for me is getting to spend more time with my family. You see, I’m currently on active duty orders and have been away from my family since January. I’ll be back home in May and can’t wait to spend some quality time with them!