In 1928, she became the first woman to accomplish a transcontinental flight. Today, thousands of women around the world fly planes routinely.
She became the first American woman in space when she blasted off with the space shuttle in 1983. At age 32, she was also the youngest astronaut to have flown a space mission up to that point. Since that first flight, 42 other American women have flown in space.
Change Agents can learn a lot from these two great women.
Here are a few things that resonated with me when I looked back at these two powerful Agents of Change:
1. Life is Short – Dreams Are Long: Both women discovered their love of flight early and followed their dream of slipping the surly bonds of Earth for their entire lives. Both women left this world too early – but accomplished amazing things that grew out of their initial inspirations.
Change Agents can learn that anything worth doing is also worth sticking with and accomplishing great things demands that we persist for the long haul – however long that may be.
2. Break Some Glass: Both women rose to the highest levels of professions that were not only dominated by men, but were controlled in virtually all aspects by men. Everyone’s familiar with the prototypical 1960’s NASA Engineer with a short sleeve white shirt and pocket protector… Can you picture any women having been in NASA leadership roles during that period – let alone being on board a spaceship?
I suspect a young Sally Ride at least imagined it.
Change Agents can take note of how even the most rigid controls of organizations, processes, cultures, policies, rules and strategic direction can eventually be shattered and re-built if the cause is right and the Change Agent is determined enough to break through.
Change agents can follow in their footsteps by adopting a courageous attitude in the face of challenges rather than bending at the first sign of difficulty.
4. Leave a Legacy: Sally Ride and Amelia Earhart were both champions for the next generation of girls. They didn’t just strive to achieve great things for the sake of their own notoriety; they each gave back to future generations of young women by hurling themselves into the abyss and demonstrating what could be done through hard work, courage and follow-through.
Thousands of women are flying in the skies today who can identify with these two ground-breakers. Change Agents can draw motivation from knowing that as long as their cause is positive, their work can have a lasting impact.
The Bottom Line: Great things are not accomplished by watching – they are accomplished by doing. What Earhart and Ride did was redefine a woman’s role for their generation. By doing so, they exemplified the highest ideal any Change Agent could strive for.
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