Self-Help from Maya Angelou: There Are No Shortcuts. You Find Your Path by Walking It

Tavis Smiley dictates a letter to a young American with inspiration from his late friend, Maya Angelou. No matter how much you seek the answers to life from external sources, the truth you seek can only be found within you.

Tavis Smiley: Maya Angelou said to me repeatedly that we find our path by walking it. We find our path by walking it. And at the end of the day, for all the advice you get from me or anyone else; from all the books you read about how to live a good life, your best life; from all the self-help seminars that you go to; from all the Big Think programs that you watch, at the end of the day, with all this information coming at you, you only find your path by walking it. You have to commit yourself to being courageous, being committed, being consistent to those immutable principles by which you have decided you are going to live your life. There is no other way around this. You have to walk your path to find it. We live in a world where everybody is looking for a shortcut. Everybody wants the shortcut to success, the shortcut to this, the shortcut to that. In our cars — I live in L.A. — we use these apps to find the shortest way to get to where we're going. Everybody in life these days it seems is trying to find a shortcut to wherever they think they're trying to go. And often times when we shortcut our way to getting there, we're not happy when we arrive anyway. And often times, certainly in terms of our lives and careers, it means less if you have cheated or shortcutted your way to get there anyway.

My point is that there's no alternative to doing the work. You have to do the work. And doing the work means that you have to walk the walk; you have to walk the path if you're going to find and discover what your life is truly all about. And quite frankly, and I'll close on this note, I've discovered that the joy is in the walk anyway. The joy is in the journey. There is joy in the journey. There are ups and there are downs, but there is joy in the journey. I believe that we live in a society where we are so caught up with achieving milestones that we end up missing the moments. Milestones are a beautiful thing, but it's these moments that really make life worth living. So don't be so caught up in chasing milestones in your career that you miss the important moments along the way.


Tavis Smiley dictates a letter to a young American with inspiration from his late friend, Maya Angelou. No matter how much you seek the answers to life from external sources, the truth you seek can only be found within you. You must walk your own path without aid of shortcuts. And you need to acknowledge that the journey toward the authentic you is more important than the destination. Smiley's latest book is an account of his friendship with Angelou, My Journey with Maya.

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Technology & Innovation
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Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer

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