While the lucky few can claim success as a birthright, the rest of us have to work hard against enormous odds. Whether the obstacle is poverty, discrimination or a terrible injury, we need role models as we struggle for success. Here are a few exceptional people, some famous, some not, whose lives are inspirational!
The fashion designer whose signature look is the epitome of style grew up in abject poverty. Her father was a peddler, and when her mother died, he left her in an orphanage. She was raised by nuns, and learned to sew, getting her first ideas for what would become known worldwide as “the little black dress.” She did not find success until her late twenties but when she did, it was massive, showing that one great idea can build an empire.
Connie Culp was shot in the face by her husband, leaving her horrifically disfigured. After a rigorous physical and psychological screening, Connie was selected by the Cleveland Clinic for the first near-total face transplant performed in the U.S. The 22-hour surgery was successful, and as nerves, muscles and skin have healed with time and constant physical therapy, she has regained her ability to smile. Doctors credit her positive attitude as a large part of her recovery.
Molested repeatedly as a child by a member of her family, Oprah Winfrey could easily have said the dice were loaded from the start and given up. Instead, she persevered, followed her star, became a reporter, landed a talk show, became an award-winning actress, created a media empire, and never looked back.
Reconstructive plastic surgeons in Utah and around the US honor our veterans whom have suffered terrible injuries. One such hero, Michael Fletcher, lost most of his nose in an explosion he will likely never remember. Through six operations, surgeons at Johns Hopkins reconstructed Fletcher’s nose and midface from cartilage, nerves and skin harvested from other parts of his body. The lesson: nothing is too good for those who serve in times of war.
Richard Branson suffered terrible humiliation as a young boy with dyslexia, and dropped out of school at 16 to start a magazine. From there, his entrepreneurial spirit ran wild, leading him into music (Virgin Records, Virgin Radio) airlines (Virgin Atlantic) and outer space (Virgin Galactic). Proof positive that grades aren’t that important when you have the courage to dream big.