Today marks the first anniversary of Maya Angelou's death, but her influence remains, with potent advice for writing, living, and enhancing your emotional intelligence.
Finding Identity in the Depths of Trauma
I was midway through college before I encountered a life changing book with a funny name. I was familiar with the title book I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, but nothing of its contents.
The book is a powerful autobiography of Maya Angelou's struggle to find freedom, reflecting a healthy self-esteem under extreme trauma. I studied the book intensely, devouring each word. It was more than an autobiography. It was poetry.
Though she has passed, you can apply her knowledge to increase your emotional intelligence (EQ). Recent studies state that EQ more important in the workplace than IQ. It is the capacity to reflect on and handle your emotions and empathize with those of others.
Angelou chose every word precisely, and I loved both the eloquent words and the message. I connected with the burdens of my cultural ancestry, and I empathized with the descendants of slaves for the first time.
Angelou was inspired by a moving Paul Laurence Dunbar poem about slavery and freedom. Dunbar died in 1906, a product of the Restoration Period in the South, enduring much abuse and racism.
In Dunbar's poem "Sympathy," he compares living as a Black man to the plight of a bird caught in a cage:
Most assume that caged birds sing when they are happy. However, the bird sings to console herself in her suffering, not to express joy. She sings her longing to be free to fly, and "upward to heaven he flings" a prayer for salvation from the cage.
Angelou picked up the poem as inspiration for her candid writing about race and self. She connected intimately with the idea of Dunbar and his beautiful poem.
Maya Angelou lived through unbareable circumstances too, but she overcame obstacles to create a meaningful existence, taking care of herself, and teaching others.
Key Quotes to Supercharge Your EQ
The power of Maya Angelou's writing is not her ability to endure suffering, but to transcend it. She moves beyond the pain to suture her wounds and then teaches others how to do the same.
Apply these quotes to work, life, and writing, and you will find exponential, positive results:
What Is at Stake in Enhancing Your EQ
I miss Maya Angelou and her wisdom. But her words remain to guide us in changing the world.
Why is emotional intelligence essential in leadership? Do you have any ideas about how to practice these skills as part of you daily life? Share them in the comments below.
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