Who Does Your Greatest Success Look Like?

Who does your greatest success look like? Is it someone who has accomplished things, fame, made lots of money? Or are there other criteria you use to measure success?

It’s good to have goals for a day, a week, a month but what are your goals for your lifetime? Do you know who you want to be? 

If you read my post Inspiration on Location you know I discovered a unique institution. I researched the State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded near Lynchburg, Virginia. Synchronicity struck again. First, I learned about Carrie Buck (more on her later). Then I learned about the history of eugenics in the United States of America. Yes, you read that right. Eugenics, here. During my research, I learned about Better Baby contests. The competitions were part of a movement ’scientific motherhood’ to reduce infant mortality. 

This is the question I’ve pondered recently. During my reflections, I decided to look at female authors who have attained a level of success. I started with the Best Novelists of All Time on Ranker then went to the Best Selling Fiction Authors list on Wikipedia.

Best Female Novelists of All Time (adapted from Ranker)

  1. Virginia Wolfe, an English writer 
  2. Agatha Christie, DBE, an English novelist, short story writer, and playwright
  3. Jane Austen, an English novelist 
  4. George Eliot,  an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator
  5. Mary Shelley, an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer
  6. Charlotte Brontë, an English novelist and poet
  7. Flannery O’Connor, an American writer and essayist
  8. Daphne du Maurier, DBE, an English author and playwright
  9. J. K. Rowling, OBE FRSL, a British novelist
  10. Emily Brontë, an English novelist and poet 
  11. Margaret Atwood, CC OOnt FRSC is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist and winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Prince of Asturias Award for Literature
  12. Mary Wollstonecraft, an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights
  13. Margaret Mitchell, an American author and journalist
  14. Shirley Jackson, an American author
  15. Willa Cather, an American author
  16. Sylvia Plath, an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer
  17. Toni Morrison, an American novelist, editor, and professor and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature
  18. Anne Brontë, an English novelist and poet
  19. Doris Lessing, a British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
  20. Alice Munro, a Canadian author
  21. S. E. Hinton, an American writer winner of the inaugural Margaret Edwards Award
  22. Elizabeth Gaskell, a British novelist and short story writer
  23. Marguerite Yourcenar, a Belgian-born French novelist and essayist and winner of the Prix Femina and the Erasmus Prize
  24. Lois Lowry, an Newbery Medal award winning American writer
  25. Patricia Highsmith, an American novelist and short story writer
  26. Elizabeth Bowen, CBE was an Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer
  27. Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, a 19th-century German poet, author, and composer
  28. Anne Tyler, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and literary critic
  29. Dodie Smith, an English novelist and playwright
  30. E. Annie Proulx, an American journalist and author
  31. Diana Gabaldon, an American author
  32. Suzanne Collins, an American television writer and novelist
  33. Shirley Hazzard, an Australian author of fiction and non-fiction
  34. Ayn Rand, a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter
  35. Martina Cole, a British crime writer, businesswoman and occasional television presenter
  36. Elizabeth von Arnim, an Australian-born British novelist
  37. Karin Boye, a Swedish poet and novelist
  38. Linda Lael Miller, an American author of contemporary and historical romance novels
  39. Debra Webb, an American author of romantic suspense novels

Best Selling Female Authors (by # books sold)

  1. Agatha Christie
  2. Barbara Cartland
  3. Danielle Steel
  4. Enid Blyton
  5. J. K. Rowling
  6. Corín Tellado
  7. Jackie Collins
  8. Nora Roberts
  9. Janet Dailey
  10. Stan and Jan Berenstain
  11. Rumiko Takahashi
  12. Ann M. Martin
  13. Beatrix Potter
  14. Astrid Lindgren
  15. Debbie Macomber
  16. EL James
  17. Catherine Cookson
  18. Stephenie Meyer
  19. Anne Rice
  20. Judith Krantz
  21. Eleanor Hibbert
  22. Denise Robins
  23. Anne Golon
  24. Mary Higgins Clark
  25. Penny Jordan
  26. Patricia Cornwell

Who Does Your Greatest Success Look Like?

Do you have a success hero? Over the next few posts, I’ll explore the successes of these authors and those of the top science fiction and fantasy authors. We’ll discuss lessons we can take from them. Do any of these authors look like your greatest success hero? Are there women in other fields you consider your success hero?

How Bad Do You Want It?

On October 14th Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, daredevil, and BASE jumper achieved his goal. For the high risk, the level of technology and training needed, he wanted success badly. How bad do you want it?

Did You Watch Him Fall Down From the Sky?

Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria jumps out from the capsule during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico, USA on October 14, 2012. // Red Bull Stratos / Red Bull Content Pool // P-20121016-00084 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //

If you missed the spectacular jump, watch this video:

Did you catch who his sponsor was? Red Bull! Apropos, don’t you think? See more information at the official Red Bull Stratos team website.

For more technical information about the jump, go to extremetech.com.

Baumgartner wasn’t the first to try to achieve this record. Joseph Kittinger tried it in 1960. In fact, Kittinger still holds the record for the longest time in free fall (five minutes and 35 seconds).

Lesson Learned

I don’t know about you, but I am terrified of heights.  Put me on a three-foot ladder and I start to shake, make the ladder a five-foot ladder and I’m hyperventilating. I could never do what Felix Baumgartner or Joseph Kittinger did.  But I admire them.  Is that admiration due to jumping out of the balloon capsule higher than anyone else? No. Is it because they fell further and faster than anyone, ever? Uh-uh. Is it because Baumgartner broke the sound barrier with his body?  Nope.

Kittinger was a fighter pilot in Viet Nam and later made extreme altitude parachute jumps for Aerospace Medical Research Laboratories.

Baumgartner did more than 2,500 skydives, seven years of preparation with the Red Bull-sponsored team, two test jumps, and a three-hour ascent in a tiny, pressurized capsule lifted by an ultra-thin helium balloon. All of that for a terrifying nine-minute descent, for speeds up to 833.9 miles per hour, a world record, and tons of scientific data. Data that NASA hopes will lead to improvements in spacesuits and escape plans for future astronauts.

Don’t forget that neither Kittinger nor Baumgartner could have accomplished what they did without the drive and determination of past skydivers, researchers, and scientists who developed the base knowledge and equipment necessary.

For me, reading about these men (and women) puts things into perspective. It takes a lot of hard work to reach for your dreams, to be successful.

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”

Do you have a goal that you feel may be impossible?

How bad do you want it?