5 Life Lessons From Dr. Maya Angelou


A few weeks ago, I shared a blog post titled, “5 Virtual Mentors That Changed My Life”. I had originally planned to add two more virtual mentors, but the post started getting long. If I had added the two additional mentors, Maya Angelou would have made the list along with Frederick Douglass.

Thus, this week’s blog is dedicated to remembering the life of the wonderful and gifted, Dr. Maya Angelou.

Dr. Angelou has taught me a plethora of lesson as a virtual mentor. Her writing, teachings and poetry have help mold me into the teacher, writer, poet and leader I am today.

Here are 5 of the top Lessons I’ve learned from Dr. Maya Angelou’s life:

words are things1. Words are Things

Maya Angelou’s life, was marked by a number of challenges before she became well-known. As a young girl she chose to be mute for five years because she felt her words killed a man.

Her belief in the power of words didn’t just make a negative impact in her life, but also a very positive impact. In an interview, Dr. Angelou recounted a statement her grandmother would often make, while braiding her hair.

“Sister”, her grandmother would say, “You’re going to be a teacher and you’re going to teach all over the world.”

Which she would later do!

In another statement about the impact of words, Maya Angelou recalled her mother saying, that she revered her (Maya Angelou) with the likes of Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt.

When her mother shared these words, Maya Angelou was in her early twenties. She was a young woman, simply trying to survive on her own. Unknown, unskilled and often alone. Fast forward six decades and now the world celebrates her life.

Words matter.
Words of affirmation can be more powerful than any of us can truly measure.

 2. Look for rainbows in your clouds

We all have our challenges and tough times in life. When you read Maya Angelou’s writings, it is clear that she had her share of dark clouds. Yet, she related to these unfortunate circumstances as learning opportunities and would look for the lesson, she could label her rainbow.

I’ve shared a similar perspective, in a blog post titled, “Gold in the Mud”. Feel free to check it out if you want more depth on this lesson.

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” ~ Maya Angelou

3. Live what you teach

This lesson may seem simple, yet so many of us fail to meet the expectations of the short statement, “Live what you teach.”

What good is a teacher, who cannot provide us an example of what it looks like to attempt living their lesson?

I’m not saying the teacher should be perfect.
Perfection is a tall glass to drink. It’s a drink none of us can finish.
Integrity, however, is a drink we should all seek to consume.
Especially a leader.

4. We are all human

In Oprah Winfrey’s Master Class, with Dr. Maya Angelou, Dr. Angelou shared a quote from Terence.

“I am a human being; nothing human can be alien to me.”

Her perspective on this quote really spoke to me.

Often we hear about or see horrible acts of violence and while we inherently have compassion for the victims, we tend to distance ourselves from the perpetrator to the extent we sometimes classify them as animals. Yet, they are human. Humans who still deserve compassion, love and kindness despite what they may have done.

Dr. Angelou didn’t overtly say this, but what I believe she was trying to teach here is unconditional love for all mankind.

5. Love liberates

Dr. Angelou’s perspective on love, is that to truly love someone, you must set them free and let them be.

She shared how her mother’s love liberated her as a young woman. She left home in her late teens and her mom didn’t try to control or change her desires. Her mom simply expressed her love and told her to come back whenever she wanted to be somewhere she would be loved.

Her mom’s love liberated her to explore the world and find her greatness.

Her mom’s love made it possible for Dr. Angelou to inspire countless millions all over the globe.

True love liberates us!
Real love is liberating!

maya-angelou-top-quoteWhat have you learned from Maya Angelou’s life?
What are your favorite quotes or poetry passages?

If you can find the time, please share them with this community, and if not here, be sure to share Dr. Angelou’s wonderful legacy somewhere.

My favorite quote of hers encapsulates how I’ve chosen to live my life!

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” ~ Maya Angelou

Live a life that allows you to thrive.
Pursue your passions and have compassion.
Love and laugh…
…and do all these things in your unique way!

Stay inspired my friends, it’s a lifestyle choice!

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About the Author:

Linal Harris
Global Entrepreneur – Certified Life Coach – Media Personality – Speaker


Linal Harris is a global entrepreneur, certified life coach, author, and media personality. As the founder of Inspirational Perspective® Publishing, LLC and Insights 4 Life™ Coaching, LLC, Harris challenges his global audience and coaching clients to Murder Mediocrity® and live their best life possible. Harris concentrates his work as an ontological coach with clients on what he calls the 4 pillars of life; the relationship we have to ourselves, the relationships we have with others, our relationship to work and money, and the connection we have to our spirit and life’s purpose. Harris coaches CEO’s, executives, entrepreneurs, athletes and celebrities. Harris is the author of “Slay Your Goals”, where he provides his readers with scientific and research backed tips for achieving their goals. Harris is an expert goal-setter and has been called upon by Fortune 500 companies to assist with setting their strategic priorities, facilitate goal-setting sessions and provide inspirational talks.

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2 thoughts on “5 Life Lessons From Dr. Maya Angelou

  1. There are so many quotes from Dr Angelou that speak to my heart. Three big life lessons that I go back to often are

    * When you know better, you do better.

    *When someone shows you who they are believe them the fist time.

    *We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.

    To live a life that leaves such an overwhelming legacy is a testament to the words her mother and grandmother spoke over her and to her ability to hear those words and make them her reality. It was indeed her choice.

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