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Women's History Month

“Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou and 3 Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Today we are examining the Maya Angelou poem “Phenomenal Woman.” This poem has 3 lessons for entrepreneurs that are worth pointing out.

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size

But when I start to tell them,

They think I’m telling lies.

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.

I say,

It’s the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,

The swing in my waist,

And the joy in my feet.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered

What they see in me.

They try so much

But they can’t touch

My inner mystery.

When I try to show them

They say they still can’t see.

I say,

It’s in the arch of my back,

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Now you understand

Just why my head’s not bowed.

I don’t shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.

When you see me passing

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It’s in the click of my heels,

The bend of my hair,

The palm of my hand,

The need of my care,

‘Cause I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

As stated above, this quote has 3 lessons for entrepreneurs. These lessons are:

  1. Not everyone recognizes your greatness.
  2. You are great as you are.
  3. Be your own hype woman.

Not everyone recognizes your greatness.

The poem starts with the notion, that there is something different about the narrator that not everyone can recognize. There is some secret to her that makes her special, but people can not figure out what it is.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size.

But when I start to tell them,

They think I’m telling lies.

From the beginning, the narrator tells you that people do not recognize her greatness. There is some big secret that makes her what she is and no one understands it.  The secret of her greatness is so phenomenal that when she tells people they think she is lying. People look at her and are not able to figure out what makes her so phenomenal. Try as they might, they are unable to do so.

There is something similar about you.  You have amazing, unique, and wonderful qualities that may defy explanation. There will be people who ask how you were able to achieve outcomes they could only dream of achieving. I know when I was in college, I worked a full-time jb, a part-time job, and went to school for several years. When I tried to tell people how I found the time and energy to do it, people found my explanations hard to believe.

Entrepreneur Be Thankful for Your Business – It Provides Jobs


Their lack of belief and understanding did not change the fact that I did what I did. Similarly, there are things you are doing that other people will find almost impossible to believe and understand. It is not your job to make people understand why you are phenomenal or how you got that way. Instead, your job is to be phenomenal and recognize it in yourself.

You are great as you are.

One of the things I like most about this poem is the reason the narrator is claiming to be phenomenal. She says it is

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arm

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step

The curl of my lips

It’s in the reach of my arms

The curl of my lips.

It’s the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,

The swing in my waist,

And the joy in my feet

In other words, she is phenomenal just as she is. She is not waiting to be phenomenal. She is not claiming she will be phenomenal one day. In fact, she is claiming that just as she is, right this moment, she is phenomenal. When you look at the things she is claiming are simple regular things. She talks about her:

arms, hips, step, lips, eyes teeth

waist, feet, back, smile, breasts, style, heels

hair, hand, care

These are things that every woman has. It is a recognition that just as you are, with the body you have now, you are phenomenal. Never does the narrator say,
 

“I would be phenomenal if I lost 15 pounds.”

or

“I would be amazing if I had a better job.”

or

“If only I had a better degree I would be magnificent.”

She claims to be phenomenal just as she is at this very moment. I encourage you to think of yourself as phenomenal just as you are, without adjustment. Celebrate the phenomenal woman that you are as you are at this moment. Do not wait for “Oneday” or “Someday” to celebrate who you are. Those days will never show up on your calendar.  Believe in the value of who you are and what you bring to the table now.

Be your own  hype woman.

One thing I like about the narrator here is that she knows her value and claims it. When I read the words

I don’t shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud

When you see me passing

It ought to make you proud.

I am tickled and thrilled. She says that she doesn’t have to make a scene. I like her assertion that you should be proud to see her walk by. She claims her phenomenal nature as a fact. All through the poem, you see examples of her telling exactly what makes her the phenomenal, wonderful woman that she is. Never does she say, “I am okay, I guess.” On the contrary, she states that she is all that and Thanksgiving dinner!

As entrepreneurs, we must step forward and claim just how phenomenal we are. It is not bragging. It is not conceit. Instead, it is a recognition that we have special, wonderful, extraordinary qualities that others would be well served to recognize.

Also check out “Mother to Son” and 3 Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Look for the special things about you and your business. Keep a list of them handy so you can refer to it often.  Make it a habit to refer to the list on a regular basis. When you know your value, you can stand strong in it. When you know your value and review it on a regular basis, you begin to believe your own hype. When you believe your own hype, you know your place in the universe and can act accordingly.

The poem “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou has three valuable lessons for entrepreneurs. These lessons are: not everyone recognizes your greatness, you are great as you are, be your own hype woman. Embracing these lessons will be good for entrepreneurs.

Take a moment now to reflect on these lessons. How can you put them into play in your business? Be sure to share your ideas in the comment section. You may help someone find a breakthrough.