Lessons Learned from Oprah Winfrey

Whether you’re a fan or not, there is no doubt that Oprah Winfrey changes lives, starting with her own. As a real life rags-to-riches story and a self-made success, she knows the power of choice, living with courage, and following your dreams. She makes things happen.

Success leaves clues. Using Oprah’s words of wisdom and endless resources for information, we can add many patterns and practices for success to our personal knowledge base.

25 Lessons Learned from Oprah Winfrey

While I can’t possibly do justice to Oprah’s lifetime of contribution and service, what I can do is look for themes and patterns. I think the most important theme I noticed is that Oprah is a self-starter and she’s a visionary. Her determination and drive carry her forward, while her reflection and continuous growth help her redefine who she is and carry the best forward. It’s like a fine wine getting better with age. Here are 25 lessons from Oprah we can learn and model from:

1. Keep your dreams right in front of you.
Keep your eye on the prize and follow your dreams. Oprah is a fan of using your dreams as inspiration and guide for your choices in life. She’s recommended creating a vision board to map out what you really want.
2. Anyone can go from rags to riches.
No excuses. It’s not what you were born into; it’s what you do with what you’ve got. Oprah made herself who she is. No matter how bad your past was, it doesn’t need to limit your destiny unless you live in the past.
3. Surround yourself with an A-team.
Learn from the best. Find the mentors and coaches that can help you bring out your best. Oprah has a team of experts on her side. For health, Oprah has Dr. Mehmet Oz, Bob Greene, and Dr. Katz. For spirit, she has Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Elizabeth Lesser, and Martha Beck. For style, she has Val Monroe and Adam Glassman. For relationships, she has Lisa Kogan and Dr. Laura Bergman. For home, she has Nate Berkus, Peter Walsh, and Simran Sethi. For money, she has Suze Orman and Jean Chatzky. She’s worked with best-selling author, Eckhart Tolle and “relationship and life strategy expert,” Dr. Phil. Who’s in your corner? It doesn’t need to be somebody famous. You can learn from people in the past or in the present, from books, or in real life. “Stand on the shoulders of giants” instead of start from scratch.
4. Declutter your life.
Clean up your messes. This could be your house (and Oprah has plenty of resources for organizing and simplifying.) This could be your emotions. This could be your everyday schedule. Declutter to create space for opportunity, creativity, and a sense of well-being. Decluttering can help you get rid of the energy drains and chaos.
5. Live in a more conscious way.
Increase your awareness. Be mindful. Be in the moment. Make thoughtful choices. For example, don’t make emotional food choices. Improve your self-awareness.
6. Practice an attitude of gratitude.
Don’t have a sense of entitlement. Appreciate what you’ve got, what you get, and don’t take things for granted.
7. Make the most of what you’ve got.
Make the most of … your mind … your body … your emotions (including self-esteem and confidence) … your relationships … your home.
8. Embrace the body you’ve got.
Nourish your body. Look your best. Feel your best. Like it or not, your body is yours. Take care of it, so it can take care of you. After all, it needs to last you a life time.
9. Learn for life.
Nourish your mind. Reading is fundamental. Oprah is a firm believer in education and the power of know-how. In the words of Oprah, “Books were my pass to personal freedom. I learned to read at age three, and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi.”
10. Live your best life.
Take responsibility. Be accountable to yourself and to your dreams. Don’t settle. Oprah has extensive resources to help you live your best life. Check out Live Your Best Life and Oprah’s Best Life Video Webcast Archive.
11. Live your own dreams.
Be true to you. Live your truths. At the end of the day, you’re the one that knows your hopes and dreams and can make them happen. Make sure they’re you’re dreams and not somebody else’s.
12. Enjoy your space.
Take care of your surroundings. According to Oprah, one of the best things you can ever give yourself is to have beautiful surroundings.
13. Don’t let fear hold you back.
Take bold action. Don’t let fear make your decisions for you.
14. Think you can.
If you believe, you can achieve. Build your confidence and your self-esteem, one small moment, one choice, or one private victory at a time.
15. Give back.
Oprah consistently demonstrates philanthropy and contribution. She’s effectively dedicated her life to helping other’s live their best life.
16. Keep it real.
She lives larger than life, but she’s human. She’s vulnerable. She has her flaws. She strives for a better life. She lives a life of continuous improvement.
17. Own it.
It’s your life. Don’t point fingers. Don’t play the blame game. Make your dreams happen.
18. Find your inner peace.
Drop the baggage. Forgive and forget. Another key here is self-knowledge and integrity. Be the person you say you are, forgive yourself when you aren’t, and lead the life you want to live.
19. Don’t give up.
Don’t give up on your dreams. Don’t give up on you. Persistence pays off.
20. Be present.
Live in the now, with an eye to the future. Know the results you’re getting. If you don’t like what you’re getting, change your approach. The most important thing you can change first is your attitude.
21. Journal it.
Writing your thoughts can help you reflect and get a more objective look at things. There’s a lot to be said for thinking on paper, even if it’s simple as just organizing your thoughts. Your journal can help improve your self-talk and it can help remind you what you think is important. It can also help you declutter your emotions and your mind.
22. Life’s short.
It really is. As 25 years of the Oprah Winfrey Show ends, and a new chapter for Oprah begins, it’s another reminder that time is limited, life it short, and the best you can do is make the most of what you’ve got.
23. Live without ego.
Eckhart Tolle teaches us that our egos get in the way of living our best life, and Oprah reinforces this message. Through self-acceptance, living in the moment, finding our truths, and giving ourselves to a higher purpose, we unleash our best.
24. Savor the moments.
Savor your relationships. Savor your choices. Savor your food. Savor your joys. Take in your moments. Your moments make up your life.
25. Add fresh starts to your life.
Whether it’s a new day, a new week, a new month, a new year … or simply a new attitude, make it a fresh start. Find the ways to renew yourself, whether it’s a make-over for you or your house, and find the inspiration for a new lease on life.

Top 10 Oprah Winfrey Quotes
Oprah is a wealth of great quotes and she has many words of wisdom. You can learn a lot about her and her insights through her quotes. Here are my top 10 favorite Oprah quotes:

Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.
Every time you suppress some part of yourself or allow others to play you small, you are in essence ignoring the owner’s manual your creator gave you and destroying your design.
I knew there was a way out. I knew there was another kind of life because I had read about it. I knew there were other places, and there was another way of being.
The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.
The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance – and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.
Turn your wounds into wisdom.
We are each responsible for our own life – no other person is or even can be.
What I know is, is that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.
What I know for sure is that if you want success, you can’t make success your goal. The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant, and the success will naturally follow.
You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job, and not be paid for it.

Oprah Winfrey Quotes
I’ve included some of my favorite Oprah Winfrey quotes below. I’ve organized them using the following categories: General, Choice, Dreams / Destiny / Purpose, Giving / Gratitude, Growth, Fear / Failure, Identity / Individuality, Opportunity / Possibility, Passion / Energy, Relationships, and Success.

Oprah on General Philosophy
Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism.
I define joy as a sustained sense of well-being and internal peace – a connection to what matters.
I think that when you invite people to your home, you invite them to yourself.
I still have my feet on the ground, I just wear better shoes.
In every aspect of our lives, we are always asking ourselves, How am I of value? What is my worth? Yet I believe that worthiness is our birthright.
It’s much easier for me to make major life, multi-million dollar decisions, than it is to decide on a carpet for my front porch. That’s the truth.
Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.
There’s no easy way out. If there were, I would have bought it. And believe me, it would be one of my favorite things!
Oprah on Choice
Be more splendid, more extraordinary. Use every moment to fill yourself up.
Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.
I believe that every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear.
I believe that uncertainty is really my spirit’s way of whispering, “I’m in flux. I can’t decide for you. Something is off-balance here.
I believe the choice to be excellent begins with aligning your thoughts and words with the intention to require more from yourself.
My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.
Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.
With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice.
Oprah on Dreams / Destiny / Purpose
Before you agree to do anything that might add even the smallest amount of stress to your life, ask yourself: What is my truest intention? Give yourself time to let a yes resound within you. When it’s right, I guarantee that your entire body will feel it.
I believe that everyone is the keeper of a dream – and by tuning into one another’s secret hopes, we can become better friends, better partners, better parents, and better lovers.
I knew there was a way out. I knew there was another kind of life because I had read about it. I knew there were other places, and there was another way of being.
I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.
I trust that everything happens for a reason, even when we’re not wise enough to see it.
I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.
It isn’t until you come to a spiritual understanding of who you are – not necessarily a religious feeling, but deep down, the spirit within – that you can begin to take control.
Often we don’t even realize who we’re meant to be because we’re so busy trying to live out someone else’s ideas. But other people and their opinions hold no power in defining our destiny.
The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.
The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance – and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.
Use what you have to run toward your best – that’s how I now live my life.
You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.
Oprah on Giving / Gratitude
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
I don’t think you ever stop giving. I really don’t. I think it’s an on-going process. And it’s not just about being able to write a check. It’s being able to touch somebody’s life.
I finally realized that being grateful to my body was key to giving more love to myself.
Living in the moment brings you a sense of reverence for all of life’s blessings.
The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
What I know for sure is that what you give comes back to you.
Oprah on Growth
Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a different way to stand.
I am a woman in process. I’m just trying like everybody else. I try to take every conflict, every experience, and learn from it. Life is never dull.
Getting my lifelong weight struggle under control has come from a process of treating myself as well as I treat others in every way.
The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.
You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more.
Oprah on Fear / Failure
Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.
Every one of us gets through the tough times because somebody is there, standing in the gap to close it for us.
I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk.
I don’t believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.
I have a lot of things to prove to myself. One is that I can live my life fearlessly.
It is confidence in our bodies, minds and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures, new directions to grow in, and new lessons to learn – which is what life is all about.
So go ahead. Fall down. The world looks different from the ground.
The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free.
Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.
You can take from every experience what it has to offer you. And you cannot be defeated if you just keep taking one breath followed by another.
Oprah on Identity / Individuality
All these years I’ve been feeling like I was growing into myself. Finally, I feel grown.
As you become more clear about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you … the first time around.
Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.
I always knew I was destined for greatness.
I don’t think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good.
I’m black, I don’t feel burdened by it and I don’t think it’s a huge responsibility. It’s part of who I am. It does not define me.
If you come to fame not understanding who you are, it will define who you are.
Let your light shine. Shine within you so that it can shine on someone else. Let your light shine.
Partake of some of life’s sweet pleasures. And yes, get comfortable with yourself.
Though I am grateful for the blessings of wealth, it hasn’t changed who I am. My feet are still on the ground. I’m just wearing better shoes.
What we’re all striving for is authenticity, a spirit-to-spirit connection.
Oprah on Opportunity / Possibility
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.
Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance.
Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself.
If you want your life to be more rewarding, you have to change the way you think.
When I look into the future, it’s so bright it burns my eyes.
Oprah on Passion / Energy
Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you’re going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal, and by maintaining focus.
If you neglect to recharge a battery, it dies. And if you run full speed ahead without stopping for water, you lose momentum to finish the race.
Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
Oprah on Relationships
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.
My idea of heaven is a great big baked potato and someone to share it with.
Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
Oprah on Success
For every one of us that succeeds, it’s because there’s somebody there to show you the way out.
I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.
If you want to accomplish the goals of your life, you have to begin with the spirit.
I’ve learned that you can’t have everything and do everything at the same time.
The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.
Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have.
What material success does is provide you with the ability to concentrate on other things that really matter. And that is being able to make a difference, not only in your own life, but in other people’s lives.

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