Women explorers inspire us to follow our dreams and pursue our passions.
Whether these women are leading an education revolution, discovering the building blocks of our existence, or leading other women into space, we take inspiration in going after something worth dedicating our lives to.
Another inspiring explorer, Amelia Earhart would have been 115 today had she lived through her ill-fated attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 1937. Earhart was the epitome of female inspiration in the face of seemingly impossible odds. While her disappearance remains a mystery, her iconic status still inspires women everywhere to break gender boundaries in pursuit of their dreams.
Here are six ways you can pursue your dreams like Amelia Earhart.
one : When inspiration strikes, seize the moment!
Inspiration strikes at strange moments. We know – it happens to us all the time.
In the car driving to work? Inspiration strikes.
Out on an early morning jog? Inspiration strikes again.
The key to all of this is that you capture that inspiration (we like to ask Siri to remind us) and put it to good use. Chances are you know deep down what it is you are meant to do next in life. If not, here’s some help. It might mean a pivot in your career into a job or industry you are better-aligned with.
Maybe the non-profit sector is right for you. Or becoming a teacher is your next step.
Earhart’s first brush with aviation was when she and a friend attended a flying exhibition. A pilot dove his plane at them while standing in a clearing. “I am sure he said to himself, ‘Watch me make them scamper,’” she said. Earhart, who felt a mixture of fear and pleasure, stood her ground. As the plane swooped by, something inside her awakened. “I did not understand it at the time,” she said, “but I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by.”
When inspiration says something to you, be sure you are listening.
two : Build a team around you to help you reach your goals.
You’re going to need a team of advisors around you. The most successful women know this. If you don’t have a team of trusted and knowledgeable advisors yet, start looking.
So how do you attract the best team players? Keith Farrazzi in his excellent book Never Eat Alone recommends that you “ping” constantly. The key is to always be reaching out to those contacts in and out of your circle, all the time.
Not just when you need something.
Once you’ve found people you want on your team, be sure to offer them something first. Ask yourself ‘What is it I can offer this person that is of value?” Perhaps that means offering your marketing or design skills. Or some business insight to help the other person grow their business.
Whatever you can offer, don’t keep score. It’s never simply about getting what you want. It’s about getting what you want and making sure that the people who you want on your team get what they want, too.
For her trans-Atlantic flight, Earhart built her team to fly alongside her- pilot Wilmer Stultz and co-pilot/mechanic Louis Gordon. The team left Trepassey harbor, Newfoundland, in a Fokker F7 named Friendship on June 17, 1928, and arrived at Burry Port, Wales, approximately 21 hours later. Their landmark flight made headlines worldwide, because three women had died within the year trying to be that first woman.
No doubt that having the right team around her ensured she wouldn’t be counted as the fourth.
three : Grow a thick skin.
It’s a fact of life – if you take risks, sometimes you’ll get a standing ovation, and sometimes, people will throw tomatoes.
Can you think of any leader or innovator whom you admire who doesn’t have enthusiastic fans and harsh critics? Wendy Kopp has plenty of critics. But her persistence and that of Teach For America in closing the achievement gap has paid off with impressive results.
Get used to wins and losses, getting a call back and being ignored. Work on letting go of your need to be liked by everybody. By trying to please everybody, you run the risk of pleasing nobody.
Although Earhart’s convictions were strong, challenging prejudicial and financial obstacles awaited her. Aviation was a male-dominated pursuit at the time. She undoubtedly faced harsh criticism much like those before her. Earhart used this as motivation, keeping a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about successful women in predominantly male-oriented fields, including film direction and production, law, advertising, management, and mechanical engineering.
Thick skin is something Amelia had. And something you’ll need.
four : Question the voice that says “I’m not ready yet.”
Think back to your latest adventure. Having trouble coming up with one? That’s why we’re here to help.
Think about the last experience you had that left you feeling proud of yourself. That left you with a ‘wow’. Chances are, when you started, you weren’t ready.
That’s all part of the experience.
We have news for you. Anything worth doing is never going to leave you feeling ready. The experiences that leave you in a better place than when you started are the ones which stretch your limits. They the ones right on the precipice of ‘Can I do this?’
That creeping doubt you have might be self-preservation, but more likely, it is anxiety that will try to keep you in an unreasonably safe position your entire life. What Seth Godin refers to as your lizard brain. (Seth Godin – we love you!)
While you are waiting to be ready, gathering more experience, sitting on your ideas, the Amelia Earharts, Wendy Kopps and Sally Rides out there are being anointed visionaries, getting raises, and seeing their ideas come to life in the world. They were no more ready than you, and perhaps less.
Jump in the sandbox now, and start playing full out. Find out just how ready you are.
five : Focus on differentiation.
In marketing speak it’s called your USP – your unique selling proposition.
And it is critical.
Determining your USP is possibly the most important decision you can make for your dreams to become reality. If you can figure out how you stand apart from the crowd, everything you do will be easier. Partners, customers, job opportunities – all will be easier to come by. Adoring fans will gladly spread the word about what you do because they love it.
On the other hand, if you don’t develop an effective USP, getting anyone to pay attention to you will be a constant struggle.
Your USP can mean the difference between success and failure.
(If the word “selling” turns you off, you can think of it as the “unique market proposition” if you’d like. It’s not about selling, it’s simply about differentiation. At let’s face it – we are all in the business of marketing in some way.)
Earhart had it easy. Being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, well, there’s a USP staring you right in the face. It’s not hard to differentiate when you are the first to do something. Consider Earhart’s rewards for her USP – parades, books, stories, and the admiration of millions.
But what about the rest of us who can’t claim being first? Here are some ideas laid out in an excellent article by Corbett Barr on ThinkTraffic:
- Use your personality – No one else has a personality quite like yours. Use it to your advantage.
- Explore the intersection of ideas – Think about your life’s pursuit, then think about how you can pull in other ideas or hobbies to create a super-mega idea that hasn’t been developed before.
- Narrow your target audience – There are business segments who have never had people cater to them before. Find one willing to pay you for your skills, and you’ve found your differentiator (and you can claim to be the first!).
- Narrow your topic – Niching down means less competition, and better-serving your target audience. Both will help you to differentiate.
six : Let other inspiring women know they are brilliant.
Pursuing dreams can be tough work. Which is why we need to stick together.
You see inspiring women all the time. At work. At school. At church. At the gym.
Let them know what kind of brilliance you see, and why it’s so special. Call them into greater leadership and action. Let them know that they are ready.
Spread the word.
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Your turn – Add your comments below.
Which women do you take your inspiration from? What did they accomplish that you take your motivation from? Add to the discussion in the comments section below so others can follow these women too.
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