How to Be Like Amelia Earhart
- Don’t allow others to define you
Earhart was praised after her Friendship flight, but she didn’t believe her press clippings. She looked for a way to earn that praise, and if she hadn’t, her name might have been forgotten a long time ago.
- Be honest with yourself
Earhart wouldn’t allow herself to take credit for what Friendship pilot, Wilmer Stultz, had done, even if the credit came from the president of the United States. “I was just a passenger on the journey—just a passenger,” she told the New York Times.
- Set clear-cut goals
After the accolades she received from being part of the Friendship crew, Earhart wanted to be worthy of the admiration she was receiving. She was a pilot, not a passenger. She soon set an ambitious goal for herself: to become the first woman pilot to solo across the Atlantic Ocean. It would be an extremely dangerous flight, and Earhart gauged her chances of successfully completing it at “one in ten.” She also said: “Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.”
- Study successful people
Earhart kept a scrapbook of successful women and studied their lives carefully. She also developed her own philosophy about being successful. “Women will gain economic justice by proving themselves in all lines of endeavor, not by having laws passed for them,” she wrote.
- Do what you love
Earhart said that from the first time she was in an airplane “I knew I myself had to fly…To want in one’s heart to do a thing, for its own sake; to enjoy doing it; to concentrate all one’s energies upon it—that is not only the surest guarantee of its success, it is also being true to oneself. If there is anything I have learned in life it is this: If you follow the inner desire of your heart, the incidentals will take care of themselves.”
- Don’t take things for granted
Anita Snook taught Earhart to check everything on her airplane. This included being sure the plane had a full tank of gas.
- Prepare for worst-case scenarios
Earhart studied stunt flying so she’d be familiar with the unexpected. This was needed when her plane went into a spin during her solo flight across the Atlantic. “A knowledge of some stunts is judged necessary to good flying,” she said. “Unless a pilot has actually recovered from a stall, has actually put his plane into a spin and brought it out, he cannot know accurately what those acts entail. He should be familiar enough with abnormal positions of his craft to recover without having to think how.”
- Ask questions
Earhart learned from asking questions of experienced pilots.
- Care about others
Whether it was girls excluded from sororities or soldiers wounded in battle, Earhart gave of herself and helped others. This helped her become the kind of person that Amy Guest was looking for. She wanted a girl of the “right image” for the Friendship flight, and Earhart was selected.
- Keep challenging yourself
Earhart may have lost her life doing what she loved to do, but this was the way she needed to live her life.
- Evaluate risks
Most of our daily decisions aren’t about life and death, but even so, evaluate the risks of anything you do. Earhart’s formula was to “decide then whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying. To worry is to add another hazard. It retards reactions, makes one unfit.”
- Accept responsibility for your decisions and actions
Earhart accepted full responsibility for her attempt to fly around the world and wanted to alleviate her husband of any guilt. She wrote: “I know that if I fail or if I am lost you will be blamed for allowing me to leave on this trip; the backers of the flight will be blamed and everyone connected with it. But it’s my responsibility and mine alone.”
- Don’t worry about failing—just try
Earhart’s attempt to fly around the world was the perfect expression of her life’s philosophy. Earhart said: “I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. If they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”
Used with permission from Women of Influence by Pat & Ruth Williams with Michael Mink (Health Communications, Inc., 2003).