There are people who show up with wisdom and grace, who inspire us to see the larger view – the focus on greatness, possibility and opportunity. Maya Angelou, the amazing American author and poet, was one of these great people.
Though many of us are saddened by her passing, we continue to find the joy in all that she shared and in the bar she raised for all of us. With that intent, I thought that I’d share some of her great wisdom and the ideas it inspires. I welcome you to take a moment and spend some time with her words – which were the way she shared her gift. Find the ones that speak to you; take her wisdom to heart – that is how she intended it.
“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.”
Wouldn’t it be amazing for each of us to step out of average and go for great – to move past “survive” and go for “thrive?” And how can we show up to our lives with class, energy, passion, style, confidence and courage? I know that we are each born awesome – what a great reminder that we should choose to show up awesome – and to bring it with our own style, attitude and personality.
“In life, we may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.”
Ours is a difficult and wild world. We will rise and fall, succeed and fail. And in the failures, if we can see the lesson, we can then stand back up, brush ourselves off and keep moving boldly and courageously forward. Defeats are part of life – they show us limits. Now armed with this information, we can choose to move past the limits. These are life’s way of showing how capable we are, so long as we remember to believe that we cannot be defeated. We are tough. We are strong. We are capable. We must never give up.
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
There is an element of the divine in all of us. Call it your spirit, your spark, your light, your gift or your greatness (you decide how you identify and connect with it) – there is something that has the potential to shine in all of us. I say potential because though it is present, not everyone has discovered or uncovered it yet. That is part of our life’s purpose – to discover our gifts (greatness, light) and to use it as we “do” life. We show up greater, more passionate, wiser and more committed when we start from our core – our light. And when we show up from that authentic and deeper place, we can’t be dimmed. We shine at our brightest – we let our unique abilities shine through.
And my favorite: “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
In our world, we are encouraged to blend – to look and act like others – to be “normal.” None of us are really “normal” because we are each unique and different on purpose. We weren’t born to blend – we were born to stand out – to shine in our unique way. To discover what makes us amazing requires the awareness to see our gifts and the courage to live them. It takes effort to discover our talents, strengths and passions and courage to celebrate them, not hide them. The loud voices from our world are always trying to tell us who we should be and what normal is. Fight them. Be your true and amazing self.
There are teachers among us – those whose gifts are to understand life then share what they know with the rest of us. These people can inspire us to see how to do life in a most amazing way. Maya Angelou was such a teacher – and I know my world has been significantly improved by connecting with her words, her spirit, her energy and her passion. May you have life heroes and teachers who help you rise to your greatness zone – to your greatest potential.