We all need inspiring figures in our lives to help us stay strong and positive during difficult times. It’s especially important for women who face their own special set of challenges in life and in business.
In this post, we’re going to explore some valuable lessons from great women in history who overcame the challenges of their time. These women will show us that we’re all capable of amazing things and need to have faith in our abilities.
Let’s take inspiration from three major figures: Madam C. J. Walker, Frida Kahlo, and Emily Brontë
Madam C. J. Walker
Madam C. J. Walker is known as the first self-made woman millionaire in the United States. She was also one of the greatest philanthropists in the nation.
She was orphaned at age seven and mistreated by her brother-in-law. Madam C.J. Walker married at the age of 14 to escape the abuse and lost her husband at age 20. She raised her daughter by working as a washerwoman for less than $2 a day.
In the 1890s, she suffered from a scalp ailment that resulted in hair loss. Driven by this experience she created hair products for the African American community. She traveled across the country to promote her products and to educate people on how to tend to their hair. Eventually, she opened a factory and a beauty school that was highly profitable. Here are the lessons we can learn from her:
- Look for solutions to problems in your own life. If you can help yourself, you can create an online course or a business to help others
- Promote yourself. Madam C. J. Walker traveled the States to share her products and knowledge. Don’t be afraid to showcase your capabilities and to get recognition for your good work
- Give back to the community. This entrepreneur shared her knowledge and enabled thousands of women to get diplomas from her school and to earn a living. She also was a prolific activist and philanthropist who supported education
Madam C.J Walker took personal tragedies and made a rich and meaningful life for herself. Hopefully, we can learn to grow from challenges and to even help others no matter what the circumstances are.
The life of Frida Kahlo was marked by tragedy, marital difficulties, and political turmoil. She had a terrible trolley car accident as a young girl and had to wear a corset to support her spine for life. She was constantly fatigued and in pain.
Another one of her life’s trials was to deal with infidelity and betrayal from her husband and sister.
Yet, she was able to create some of the world’s most prolific paintings that have even overshadowed the work of her husband, who was better known at the time. One of the headlines featuring her was as follows: “Wife of Master Mural Painter Gleefully Dabbles in Works of Art”.
What can we learn from Kahlo? Let’s dive in.
- Embrace your appearance. Frida Kahlo was someone who did not have a conventionally ‘beautiful’ appearance. She not only sported her slight mustache and unibrow with pride, she even used it in her works of art to create powerful self-portraits
- Express yourself. Frida was unable to escape both mental or physical pain, but she was able to channel her experience into works of art. Whenever you feel life’s difficulties overwhelm you, consider drawing or writing to act as an outlet
Frida Kahlo embodies a spirit of never-ending strength and fierce determination. Consider exploring her paintings in Google’s Art and Culture site to appreciate how you can make challenges into something beautiful.
This author wrote one of the greatest classics of all time, Wuthering Heights. This was during a time when women were not perceived to be capable of writing great pieces of literature.
So much so that she had to publish her work under a man’s name to be taken seriously.
Emily Brontë lost her mother at the age of three and suffered from abuse and privation in the school where she studied with her sisters as a young child. She was also frequently ill and limited by the constraints that that time period placed on women.
However, she and her sisters read constantly and wrote often about imaginary worlds and people.
When she wrote and published Wuthering Heights, people believed that a woman was not capable of such a raw and passionate piece of work. Her book was controversial for the time but also saw great success. She died a year after its publication and never knew how well it did.
Here are some of the lessons we can gain from her life.
- Don’t let societal and environmental pressures keep you from believing in yourself. Emily wrote and expressed herself in a way that was ‘inappropriate’ for a woman. You have great talent and you should give yourself the gift of self-expression.
- Read prolifically. Brontë and her sisters read great works of literature and educated themselves. Reading is one of the most powerful things you can do. Knowledge and ideas from books can sustain you emotionally and build your mental abilities.
- Explore your imagination. Your imagination can be a powerful source of ideas and entertainment in your life. Learn to deliberately engage in your imaginative powers and boost your creativity.
We’ve taken a look at the lives and lessons of three powerful women who faced amazing personal difficulties. In spite of these issues, they rose to create great works of art and in one case, built a widely successful business.
Use these women and their life lessons as inspiration for your own growth. You’ll see that you’re capable of great change and can contribute to society in a meaningful way.