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Maya Angelou on Courage and Creativity - HBR IdeaCast - Harvard Business Review


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 I don’t mind the struggle.

Me too!

Best part of the interview:

ALISON BEARD: So your latest book is about your mother. What were the most important lessons she taught you?

MAYA ANGELOU: Well, I don’t know if I can select one. I would say she encouraged me to develop courage. And she taught me by being courageous herself. And after years of leaving her and, I think, becoming courageous, I realized that one isn’t born with courage. One develops it.

And you develop it by doing small, courageous things, in the same way that one wouldn’t set out to pick up 100 pound bag of rice. If that was one’s aim, the person would be advised to pick up a five pound bag, and then a ten pound, and then a 20 pound, and so forth, until one builds up enough muscle to actually pick up 100 pounds. And that’s the same way with courage.

You develop courage by doing courageous things, small things, but things that cost you some exertion– mental and, I suppose, spiritual exertion.

ALISON BEARD: Both your mother and your grandmother were businesswomen.

MAYA ANGELOU: Yes.

ALISON BEARD: What did they teach you about good management?

MAYA ANGELOU: Well, that’s it’s wise to be fair. It’s unwise to be a cheat. And both of them were really [INAUDIBLE] fair. And, of course, by teaching that, they also taught me, or I learned from them, not to lie. And that doesn’t mean tell the truth and tell everything you know. You’re never supposed to do that. But just make sure that what you do say is the truth.

I know there are people who say, I’m brutality frank. Well, one doesn’t have to be brutal about anything. One can tell the truth and tell it in such a way that the listener hears it and really welcomes it. So I learned that from both of them.

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