There are few people in the world who actually need no introduction; Beyoncé is one of them. But I love talking about Bey so indulge me for a minute.
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter first graced the world with her presence as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child before starting her solo career as a singer, song-writer, entrepreneur, actress, visual artist, activist, and more (and you’ve likely already got one of her songs stuck in your head from reading this far). Her unique voice was once called “one of the most compelling instruments in popular music.”
Beyoncé is the most awarded artist in the history of the MTV Video Music Awards, the BET Awards, and the Soul Train Awards. As if that weren’t impressive enough, she’s also the most awarded singer and woman in Grammy history and tied for second overall. And at 40—and still at the height of her career—she’ll have plenty more chances to claim the top spot.
“Her legacy thus far is undeniable, and she has accomplished more in her 40 years on this earth that [sic] most have done in a lifetime,” Okla Jones wrote for Essence on Beyoncé’s most recent birthday. But it’s not just about hits and awards. “Influence and inspiration are also a part of a person’s legacy, and that can be put into play while still one is still alive.”
Here’s where I get the urge to stop repeating Beyoncè’s name and instead say “the [insert most iconic song here] singer,” but I won’t, because I couldn’t narrow down Beyoncè’s iconic catalog of songs to just five, let alone one. From “Say My Name” or “Survivor” with Destiny’s Child to “Formation” and the newly released “Break My Soul” and literally everything in between, Beyoncé has put out anthem after anthem, all while pushing the boundaries of pop music, music videos, and everything else she’s touched. “Beyoncé doesn’t just sit at the table. She builds a better one,” Sheryl Sandberg wrote when Beyoncè was named one of the Time’s 100 Most Influential People.
Fellow singer Adele once called Beyoncè the “artist of my life.” As she stood onstage and refused to accept the 2017 Grammy Award for Album of the Year—because she believed it should have gone to Beyoncé’s Lemonade—Adele told her: “All us artists here, we f*cking adore you. You are our light.”
Beyond just influencing and inspiring her fellow music superstars, Beyoncé has influenced and inspired her fans and shared what she’s learned along the way. In the lead-up to the release of her new studio album Renaissance, we’ve collected a few choice lyrics and quotes from Beyoncé about confidence, work ethic, growth, careers, and work-life balance. So while we can’t all have a career like Beyoncé’s, we can all learn from her wisdom.
- On achieving goals: “Vision and intention weren’t enough; I had to put in the work. I committed to always being a student and always being open to growth.” —Harper’s Bazaar
- On not restricting yourself or your role: “I want to show that you can have fun and have purpose, be respectful and speak your mind. You can be both elegant and a provocateur. You can be curvy and still be a fashion icon. I wish this freedom for every person.” —Harper’s Bazaar
- On believing in yourself: “Your self-worth is determined by you. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are." —GQ
- On work ethic and perseverance: “I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it” —“Formation”
- On innovation: “I have paid my dues and followed every rule for decades, so now I can break the rules that need to be broken. My wish for the future is to continue to do everything everyone thinks I can’t do.” —Harper’s Bazaar
- On self-reliance and perseverance: “I break chains all by myself / Won’t let my freedom rot in hell / Hey! I’ma keep running / ‘Cause a winner don't quit on themselves” — “Freedom”
- On failure and readjusting your plans: As a kid, “You don’t realize that you could actually work super hard and give everything you have and lose. It was the best message for me.” —Self-Titled: Part 2
- On acknowledging fears:”If I’m scared, be scared, allow it, release it, move on.” —GQ
- On accepting failure: “The reality is: Sometimes you lose. And you’re never too good to lose. You’re never too big to lose. You’re never too smart to lose. It happens. And it happens when it needs to happen. And you need to embrace those things.” —Self-Titled: Part 2
- On using her insecurities to help and empower others: “I remember when I started hearing people criticize me after I had put on some weight. I was 19. None of the sample clothes fit me. I was feeling a bit insecure from hearing some of the comments, and I woke up one day and refused to feel sorry for myself, so I wrote ‘Bootylicious.’ It was the beginning of me using whatever life handed me and turning it into something empowering to other women and men who were struggling with the same thing.” —Harper’s Bazaar
- On always looking forward: “I’ve spent so many years trying to better myself and improve whatever I’ve done that I’m at a point where I no longer need to compete with myself. I have no interest in searching backwards. The past is the past.” —Harper’s Bazaar
- On building a strong team for her business: “I pulled together these young visionaries and independent thinkers to collaborate with. I wanted strong women to be in key roles throughout my company, when most of the industry was still male dominated. I wanted collaborators who had not been jaded by the corporate world and wouldn’t be afraid to rock with me when I came up with unconventional ideas, a team that would challenge me but wouldn’t be conditioned to say you’re not supposed to do something.” —Harper’s Bazaar
- On making career and business choices: “I try to keep the human feeling and spirit and emotion in my decision-making.” —Harper’s Bazaar
- On drawing a clear line between her work and her personal life: “I’m grateful I have the ability to choose what I want to share. One day I decided I wanted to be like Sade and Prince. I wanted the focus to be on my music, because if my art isn’t strong enough or meaningful enough to keep people interested and inspired, then I’m in the wrong business. My music, my films, my art, my message—that should be enough.” —Harper’s Bazaar
- On putting up boundaries: “In this business, so much of your life does not belong to you unless you fight for it. I’ve fought to protect my sanity and my privacy because the quality of my life depended on it. A lot of who I am is reserved for the people I love and trust.” —Harper’s Bazaar
- On self-care: “I know that to give the best of me, I have to take care of myself and listen to my body.” —Harper’s Bazaar
- On finding fulfillment outside of work: “Before I started, I decided that I’d only pursue this career if my self-worth was dependent on more than celebrity success.” —Harper’s Bazaar
- On work-life balance: “I had this image of this trophy and me accepting these awards and kind of training myself to be this champion. And at the end of the day when you go through all of these things, is it worth it? I mean you get this trophy and you’re like I basically starved, I have neglected all of the people that I love, I’ve conformed to what everybody else thinks I should be and I have this trophy. What does that mean? The trophy represents all of the sacrifices I made as a kid, all of the time that I lost being on the road, in the studios as a child, and I just wanna blow that sh*t up.” —Self-Titled: Part 2
- On what really matters to her: “I have a lot of awards and I have a lot of these things and they’re amazing and I worked my ass off. I worked harder than probably everybody I know to get those things. But nothing feels like my child saying “Mommy!” No, nothing feels like when I look my husband in the eyes, nothing feels like when I’m respected, when I get on the stage and I see I’m changing people’s lives. Those are the things that matter. And at this point in my life that’s what I’m striving for. Growth. Love. Happiness. Fun. Enjoy your life. It’s short.” —Self-Titled: Part 2