Do you ever feel like things are stacked against you?
Consider how many girls and women succeeded despite the odds. Ask yourself which helps more — having advantages or learning to overcome adversity?
Have you ever noticed how many extremely successful girls and women had problems beyond what most of us face? Many successful girls and women emerged from comfortable backgrounds and some problems keep many girls and women from any chance at success, but we can still learn from these successful girls and women.
You can also take on and overcome your challenges!
The problem with some success stories in America is that media promotes the result (lifestyle, wealth and abundance). Many times, we never learn what it took (the back story) to reach that level of success.
This blog post was written to help girls and women understand the journey of the world’s most successful women. So many of the famous women we know today began their careers with some big failures and/or major setbacks. Yet, they overcame those setbacks and pushed forward to reach their goals.
These are just a few examples of women who have overcome great obstacles in life, but they all have one thing in common: a fire inside of them that perseveres against any setbacks. These women have kept their goals as their priority and have become an inspiration to women all over the world.
Name: Shannon Miller
Area of Success: Olympic Gymnastics
Obstacles She Overcame: Injuries during the Olympic trials in 1992 and ovarian cancer in 2011
Many American girls and women are not familiar with Shannon’s successes in gymnastics, her first Olympic competition almost didn’t happen because of a major setback. When she was training for the 1992 Olympic trials she dislocated and broke her elbow in a bad landing off the uneven bars. She underwent emergency surgery and a screw was inserted in her elbow. Though she was not able to compete in the optional portion of the US nationals that year, she was healthy enough to compete in the compulsories and took home first place. She then went on to compete in the Olympic trials, again finishing first in both the compulsories and optionals, earning herself a spot on the 1992 Olympic team.
To this day Shannon says that moment was one of the most difficult circumstances in her journey to becoming an Olympian and that it was a turning point in her career.
She had to decide to give up or fight through. She chose to fight. Shannon is truly an inspiration to us all and has chosen to fight through the multiple obstacles she has faced in her gymnastics career and her battle with ovarian cancer in 2011.
Shannon Miller remains the Most Decorated Olympic Gymnast in American History with seven Olympic Medals! She is the only female athlete to be inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame – Twice! [Individual (2006) and Team (2008)] Shannon has won an astounding 59 International and 49 National competition medals. Check her out at: www.shannonmiller.com
Name: Bethany Hamilton
Area of Success: Professional Surfer
Obstacles She Overcame: Bethany Hamilton had her arm bitten off by a shark.
Hamilton started surfing when she was just a child. At age 13, an almost-deadly shark attack resulted in her losing her left arm. She was back on her surfboard one month later, and two years after that, she won first place in the Explorer Women’s Division of the NSSA National Championships. Talk about determination.
Name: Kris Carr
Area of Success: Successful author self-help books and documentaries
Obstacles She Overcame: She’s thriving in life with cancer
Kris Carr turned her cancer into a business of hope and healing. In 2003, Karr was a 32-year-old New Yorker just enjoying life. But then, a regular checkup at her doctor’s office resulted in a diagnosis of a rare and incurable Stage IV cancer called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, existing in her liver and lungs.
Instead of succumbing to the disease, Carr decided to challenge her diagnosis head on. She attacked her cancer with a brand new nutritional lifestyle, and turned her experience into a series of successful self-help books and documentaries. Eventually, she launched her own wellness website, which is followed by over 40,000 people. Today, Karr is celebrating a decade of “thriving with cancer,” and is now revered as one of the most prominent experts on healthy living.
Name: Charlize Theron
Area of Success: Academy Award winning actress
Obstacles She Overcame: Witnessed her mother kill her father
When Charlize Theron was 15, she witnessed her mother shoot her alcoholic father in an act of self-defense. Instead of letting the trauma immobilize her ambition, Theron channeled her energy into making a name for herself. She would eventually become one of the most respected and talented actresses, becoming the first South African actress to win an Academy Award.
Name: Jessica Simpson
Area of Success: She earned three gold and two multiplatinum selling albums, she is also a very successful woman entrepreneur.
Obstacles She Overcame: She was not taken seriously, many influential people made a lot of blonde jokes about her IQ and casted her as stupid
Jessica Simpson was a successful singer and actress. Many Hollywood and music executives made her the butt of blonde jokes. They said she wasn’t smart, they also said all she was just another pretty face with beautiful hair. Her career began in 1999 when Simpson hopped on the music scene. After having three gold and two multi-platinum selling albums, Simpson’s singing career took a backseat. In 2006, the singer would launch her very own line of shoes, handbags, dresses, perfume and other fashion accessories. While many have doubted her ability and intelligence, Simpson continues to capitalize on her growing fashion empire.
Name: Sarah Jessica Parker
Area of Success: She became a TV and Movie star
Obstacles She Overcame: She was born in a poor coal-mining town in rural Ohio. Her mom was occasionally on welfare. Her parents also got divorced.
Sarah Jessica Parker was born in a poor coal-mining town in rural Ohio, the youngest of four children. Her parents divorced when she was two, and her mother remarried shortly thereafter and had an additional four children. Parker’s stepfather, a truck driver, was often out of work, so the future starlet took up singing and dancing at a very young age to help supplement her mom’s teaching income and feed their 10-person family.
Despite hard times and occasionally being on welfare, Parker’s mom continued to encourage her children’s interest in the arts. The family moved to Cincinnati, where Parker was enrolled in a ballet, music, and theater school on scholarship. When she was 11 years old, the family took a trip to New York City so Parker could audition for a Broadway play. The trip was a success—she and her brother were both cast, and the family relocated to New York. Parker continued to work hard and land roles, eventually becoming the title character of TV and movies.
Name: Shania Twain
Area of Success: Country Music Star
Obstacles She Overcame: Her parents divorced, her mom and stepfather, to whom she grew close, often couldn’t make enough to get by. When she was 21, her mother and stepfather were killed in a head-on car accident with a logging truck on the highway.
Shania Twain’s career began more out of necessity than raw ambition. Her parents divorced when she was two, and she rarely saw her father. Her mom and stepfather, to whom she grew close, often couldn’t make enough to get by, so Twain started singing in bars to make extra money when she was just eight years old.
She recalls her mother waking her up at all hours to get up and perform. Sadly, when she was 21, her mother and stepfather were killed in a head-on car accident with a logging truck on the highway. Twain put her career on hold to step in and take care of her three younger siblings (who were in their teens at the time). She sang in resorts and put off going after big-time stardom until her sister and brothers were old enough to care for themselves. Only once her youngest brother graduated high school did she feel OK heading down to Nashville to pursue her career.
Name: Emily Blunt
Area of Success: She was nominated for Golden Globe awards. She is a very successful actress.
Obstacles She Overcame: She could barely carry a conversation with her classmates: Between ages seven and 14, Emily had a major stutter.
Before Emily Blunt was getting nominated for Golden Globes and landing leading roles on the stage and big screen, she could barely carry a conversation with her classmates: Between ages seven and 14, Emily had a major stutter. As she told W magazine, “I was a smart kid, and had a lot to say, but I just couldn’t say it. It would just haunt me. I never thought I’d be able to sit and talk to someone like I’m talking to you right now.”
But that all changed when one of her junior high teachers encouraged her to try out for the school play—a totally unappealing feat given the fact that she had such a hard time communicating. But the teacher kept gently pressing and suggested she try accents and character voices to help get the words out—and it worked. By the end of her teens, Blunt had overcome her stutter and went on to achieve the successful career she has now.
Name: Catherine Zeta-Jones
Area of Success: Movie Star
Obstacles She Overcame: She has a bipolar disorder.
Catherine Zeta-Jones is the living picture of radiance and an easy laugh, fans were shocked when the actress’ publicist announced the she had checked into a mental health facility for treatment of bipolar disorder. The mental illness, marked by sharp mood swings and erratic behavior, can be treated with medication and therapy. Although Zeta-Jones has not launched a public awareness campaign about her treatment, her revelation has been duly admired; it would have been easy enough to sweep it under the rug.
Name: Mackenzie Phillips
Area of Success: Child TV Star
Obstacles She Overcame: Incest with her father and a lifelong battle with drugs.
Child star Mackenzie Phillips, best known for her roles in the film “American Graffiti” and the television show “One Day at a Time,” made headlines with her shocking confession that makes all the others seem tame in comparison. In 2009, Phillips’ published her memoir “High on Arrival,” detailing not only a lifelong battle with drugs, but also her abuse and eventual consensual sexual relationship with her father, John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas. Speaking about sexual abuse is clearly not easy, perhaps even more so when the accused is also an acclaimed star.
Name: Sara Blakely
Area of Success: Billionaire Entrepreneur
Obstacles She Overcame: She started her sales career selling fax machines door to door.
Sara Blakely became a billionaire. She started her sales career going door-to-door selling fax machines for 7 years, to failing her lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer then creating “Spanx “, a multi-million-dollar undergarment company. Sara Blakely is a modern day “Wonder Woman”. Sara Blakely has secured her spot as the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire with a current net worth of $1 Billion.
Name: Nely Galan
Area of Success: She’s now the founder of the Adelante Movement, an organization committed to empowering Latina women.
Obstacles She Overcame: She was a first-generation immigrant with no industry connections.
Galan, a first-generation immigrant, always worked in TV, and for many years, she struggled to get by. She kept up her hustle, consulting for networks, managing a TV station, and starting her own production company. And her perseverance and patience (and no doubt, ingenuity) paid off. When she was appointed president of Telemundo, she became the first Latina president of a U.S. television network. She’s now the founder of the Adelante Movement, an organization committed to empowering Latinas in every way imaginable. Talk about paying it forward!
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Here are the resource links where I found these great women.