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Top 14 Leadership Lessons from Maya Angelou – She passed on 28th May 2014

Maya Angelou was an American author and poet. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years.

She passed on 28th May 2014, leaving us with a feeling of sadness but also with gratitude for a life well spent.

To see her speak was to see a woman with such presence, such depth – the embodiment of dignity and inner strength. She commanded attention – when she spoke you simply couldn’t look away.

Her legacy is strong and shall provide inspiration for years to come, as she was both a woman of her time and also timeless.

She has spoken and written so many important words, but here are 15 select short quotes:

maya angelou

  1. 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.
  2. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
  3. Those of us who submitted or surrendered our ideas and dreams and identities to the ‘leaders’ must take back our rights, our identities, our responsibilities.
  4. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.
  5. All of us knows, not what is expedient, not what is going to make us popular, not what the policy is, or the company policy – but in truth each of us knows what is the right thing to do. And that’s how I am guided.
  6. I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.
  7. All men are prepared to accomplish the incredible if their ideals are threatened.
  8. If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be
  9. Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.
  10. The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free.
  11. One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
  12. Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.
  13. I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.
  14. What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.


When Nelson Mandela passed, Maya Angelou tweeted: “We thank him for coming, we thank him for teaching, we thank him for loving us.” Now we can say the same thing about Maya Angelou herself.


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  1. Daniel Kimuyu says


  2. Melvin Foote says

    She lived a wonderful and historic life!

  3. Ndukwe Eke says


  4. Tosin Emmanuel says

    Whenever she spoke, she always gave me the courage to aim for the skies! Good night Great Amazon!

  5. kallon says

    what a wise words in deed she was great.

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