Inspiration with Dr. Maya Angelou: Beauty, Simplicity & Grace
[Image: Super Soul Sunday]
It’s been another tough week in the U.S.A. with the Parkland School shooting, so I feel we could use some time to heal and reflect with a dose of inspiration. Yes, as I’ve written before…we still need more that thoughts and prayers on the American front.
I wrote this piece this to honor Black History Month with an inspiration of mine and many others: Dr. Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou opened my eyes, heart and mind as a writer.
I met Maya Angelou when my high school brought her in for a reading and author discussion in St. Paul, MN.
Since Angelou’s first book was published in 1969, the bestselling, highly acclaimed autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, conservative school officials and parent’s groups in small towns, and small-minded parts of the U.S., have crusaded to have this masterpiece banned and outlawed. The coming-of-age story which details how the author survived rape, teen pregnancy and racism in America, rings true for readers of all backgrounds.
I am grateful that my Catholic grade school and high school was more progressive on this account. I was a wide-eyed teenager and honors student, but not yet an author. Maya Angelou was patient and kind as I asked about the craft of writing poetry and her books. She spoke to me personally with encouragement at the meet and greet, then later strode onto the stage bursting with charisma for her powerful poetry reading. And I will never forget how she made me feel.
Listen: Dr. Maya Angelou Recites Her Poem "Phenomenal Woman"
Maya Angelou was an author, poet, dancer, actress and singer. Over her 50-year career, she wrote numerous plays, movies, and television shows, published seven autobiographies, three books of essays and many celebrated books of poetry. She received dozens of awards including a Pulitzer Prize nomination, a Tony Award nomination, three Grammys for her spoken word albums, the National Medal of Arts, the Lincoln Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was a civil rights activist, served on two presidential committees and received more than 50 honorary degrees as a true artist of the highest order.
In spite of this long list of accomplishments, Dr. Maya Angelou is most remembered for her wisdom, her faith and her ability to communicate bright truth with beauty, simplicity and grace.
When we lean in and listen, we hear her message to have courage and to do what we love.
My wish is that these Dr. Maya Angelou quotes will help inspire entrepreneurs.
“Nothing will work unless you do.”
Yes, we must dream. True, we need to believe. Still, being successful as a person, or as a business owner, requires work. There's no getting rich quick. There's no crystal-clear secret. There is the work we put into the world.
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
When you interview someone or look to find your peers, remember that this is the absolute BEST version of themselves. Get in touch with your intuition. Pay attention. This quote can guide you through many relationships in life.
“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”
Any entrepreneur that tells you that their road has not been paved with complications and snags is not being honest. We all experience defeat. We all experience some form of failure. But the choice to be defeated is just that-- a choice.
On Career Passion:
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
If I don't love doing something, and it's not necessary for survival, don’t do it. This takes practice, and it’s not always easy. If your heart's not in it, don’t begin it.
“The only thing is, people have to develop courage. It is most important of all the virtues. Because without courage, you can't practice any other virtues consistently.”
Maya Angelou endured great struggle throughout her life. At all phases of our lives, we all experience challenges and struggle. We need to have courage to move forward-- to push past the struggle and be who we want to be as leaders despite the fact that it can be really, scary.
This is where a healthy dose of belief helps. Wherever you are on your journey, believe it’s worth the trip! (That’s one of my key secrets to “Shine Through the Noise”.)
As we’re on this journey personally and professionally, keep these in mind for a healthy foundation:
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”
“As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal somebody else.”
In gratitude & grace,