Once upon a time, a girl was born in a family that lived in dire poverty. Growing up, she was sexually abused at the age of 9 by a few male relatives and family friends. As if that wasn’t enough, she ran away from home at the age of 13 and got pregnant a year later; she later on lost her first child. How do you think this lady ended up? Who is she?
Her name is Oprah Winfrey and she is a billionaire philanthropist, an influential talk show host and a media personality. She’s now one of the richest women in the world with an estimated net worth of about 2.6 billion dollars at the time this article was written. How can someone who went through such adversity come out on top? What did Oprah do, that others didn’t?
She answered these 5 important questions:
1. What do I really want?
This translates to your Vision. What is your vision? Helen Keller once said: “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” This quote sounds like a good pun from someone who was blind, and she was absolutely right. Your vision is what will guide your decisions. Oprah has a deep passion for communication, she knew she wanted to become a Communicator and that is what influenced her choices in life. All what she did was in line with communication. She excelled at debates while in school. She worked part-time reading news at a local radio before getting into college. While in college, she majored in communication. She later on got a job at an ABC affiliate in Baltimore as a primetime news co-anchor. If you’re stuck with a difficult decision to make, ask yourself what you really want in life. We are the sum total of the choices we make. How can you make the right choices? How can you tell which job is good for you? How can you tell what major is good for you? How can you know which place is best for you to settle in? By knowing exactly what you want and where you are going to.
2. What is important about it?
This translates to your values. If your vision tells you where you’re going, your values tell you what you should do on the way to your destination. What are your values? Without clearly defining what they are, you’ll be more likely to compromise just to meet your objectives. Oprah deeply cares for people and she has always had the desire to help those in need. There was a time when she was deeply touched by the plight of this family who had lost all their belongings in a fire, that she donated some of her supplies and blankets to help them out. She would eventually form the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation that is focused on making quality Education available to the underprivileged, thus giving leaders a chance to uplift themselves and others. So far it has donated about 400 million dollars, with 72000 people educated and 75 million meals served.
Why do you do what you do? What is your motivation? What drives you? Throughout her career, Oprah refused to compromise her values. In 1994 despite talk shows becoming increasingly exploitative and trashy, Oprah refused to follow the crowd. She chose to keep her show free from tabloid topics and scandals. Though ratings initially fell, she earned the respect of her viewers and her popularity grew. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts to success or to do what others are doing just to make it. Be a person of integrity. Define your values and stay true to them.
3. How will I get it?
These are the methods and strategies to reach your destination. When you know where you’re going and the standards you uphold, you’ll look for strategies that won’t compromise your values. You need a plan to reach your destination. A goal without a plan is just a wish. What do you need to do to meet your objectives, to pursue your purpose, to impact lives as you desire? Oprah’s desire has always been to help others. You can’t help others without helping yourself first, reason why she needed to first solve the money part of the equation. She did that through her passion, communication, by first becoming a talk show host. She started as a co-host of a show called "The People are Talking" with Richard Sher. She excelled from there and eventually became the owner of the Oprah Winfrey Show. If you go after money for money’s sake, you’ll most likely fail. Every successful individual wasn’t driven by money. Money comes as evidence of the impact you’ve had in people’s lives. How are you impacting lives? How do you intend to fulfill your vision? Do you have a plan of action? It’s time to make one.
4. What is preventing me from having it?
These are the obstacles in your way. I wish I could tell you that the road to your destination will be smooth but the sad reality is that you’ll face challenges and obstacles. The important question is what do you do about them? Do you quit once you hit the first few roadblocks? Or do you rise above the challenge? You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your reaction to it. In addition to being sexually abused as a kid, Oprah faced several challenges during her journey. Being a black woman in an era where men set the rules wasn’t easy. She was setup for failure in her first job as a host; she was expected to deliver a high performance despite little or no experience. Of course the show failed and she took the blame even though she had a male co-host. As a result she got demoted to just writing and reporting. Even there she wasn’t that skilled and because of her caring nature, she couldn’t report things that went against her values. She didn’t give up on her dream of becoming a talk show host and the rest is history. Have a deep passion for what you do and keep believing in yourself when no one does. Don’t give up so easily; be relentless. Life is about overcoming challenges. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.
5. How will I know I am successful?
This translates to the measurements of success. You need a way to measure your success. For that you need to set SMART goals. Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound. For instance, you may need to read books to get knowledge and develop yourself. You goal can’t be just to read books. A good goal can be: “I want to read one book every month”. This is a SMART goal. At the end of each month you can clearly determine whether you’ve finished a book. You can further break it down into daily goals, for instance: “I want to read one chapter per day”. You need a way to measure how much you’re impacting people’s lives as you pursue your purpose.
Oprah Winfrey desired to help people by providing education and food to empower these people to help others. Her foundation has three main metrics to measure its impact which are: Total amount of money donated, number of people educated and number of meals served. At the time this article was written, her foundation had donated 400 million dollars, 75000 people have been educated and 75 million meals have been served. That right there is a measure of Oprah’s impact in people’s lives.
You need to determine what metrics you’ll use to measure your impact too. If you’re a writer, it could be the number of books you’ve sold. If you’re a teacher, it could be the number of students you’ve taught. As a coach, it could be the number of people you’ve coached. You get the drill. What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done. As you measure your impact, it encourages you to do more. You will be more likely to reach your goal and even surpass it.
Those are the 5 important questions you need to answer to live a purposeful life. How many of them have you already figured out? If you haven’t yet answered any, don’t fret. It often takes time to really pinpoint your purpose in life. Also take note that your answers could change along the way as you discover yourself more. Don’t be afraid to redefine your vision and purpose as you progress. If you need help with identifying your purpose, we’re here to guide you. Go ahead and book a coaching session with us below.
Thank you for reading and until next time, BESTech remains your BEST bet.