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A pivotal “aha” moment put Sally Ride on a path that would send her into space

Sally Ride was in high school with a comment by her father sparked a life-changing aha momentThirty years ago this summer, Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel into space. As she prepared for the flight, she fielded some bizarre questions from reporters. Would she wear make up while on  the mission? Would she wear a bra under her NASA uniform? Did she ever cry at work? Whew, I’m grateful that the view of women at work has changed, and that Sally took steps to break down the barriers for us!

Sally was still a student when a comment by her father sparked a pivotal “aha” moment that  put her on a path to space, even though it would be years before the thought of becoming an astronaut even crossed her mind. She described her AHA! and its impact on her life in a 2002 book of transformational stories collected by Marlo Thomas titled The Right Words at the Right Time.

Teenaged Sally had come home from high school one day feeling blue. It wasn’t because kids were picking on her. They weren’t. The problem was her friends. Sally saw how smart they were and was convinced she’d never measure up.

Sally didn’t say anything to her father about her insecure feelings, but somehow he knew. “You’ve got to reach for the stars,” he told her that evening. He had always cheered her on and encouraged her to have big aspirations. But for some reason those words that night sparked a profound realization for Sally. Suddenly she saw how important it was to believe in herself, to set her goals high, and to work relentlessly to achieve them.

After her insight, Sally focused on becoming a professional tennis player. She loved the sport and was already playing on the U.S. junior circuit. She gave tennis everything she had but eventually saw that it wasn’t her path to the top.

Sally went back to college. She was close to earning a Ph.D. in astrophysics and was beginning to think about life after school when she noticed a NASA ad in the student newspaper. The agency had just opened the door for women to become astronauts. The rest, as they say, is history.


AHA! Tip: Hear what the VIPs (Very Important People) in your life are saying. Their words might spark a moment of clarity that will stay with you and change the course of your life.


Would you like to learn what you can do — the steps you can take — to prime yourself for life-changing insights like the one that Sally and so many others have experienced? The AHA! Handbook: How to spark the insights that will transform your life and career draws from more than a decade of research and describes the steps you can take now to generate powerful and life-altering realizations in your life and career.