Oprah goes on to tell us in her introduction that this question elicits up to one billion responses on the internet. Combining a blend of self-help and memoir, Oprah shows us how we can navigate a response to this question and achieve our goals. Along the way she engages the help of some A-list contributors including Jay Z, Ellen, Justin Timberlake, Cindy Crawford, the former Vice-President Joe Biden, and Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda, to name but a few. Their contributions are illuminating but it is still Oprah’s own words of wisdom that resonate.
One of the key messages in this book is you need to listen to your inner voice. You should not ignore warnings that indicate change is needed. Whether that is feeling tired all the time at work or waking up at 3am with anxiety, you shouldn’t ignore it. Sometimes we get stuck on being one thing - the perfect partner, the perfect professional - that we don’t want to change. You can have more than one purpose in life, you can have several, and you need to listen to when it is time to move on.
You need to understand what makes you uniquely you and what you actually want, not what your family or friends want for you. Then you need to go with it and follow through by asking yourself what actions are required. You need to commit fully to your intention and genuinely believe you are capable of achieving your goal. No half-measures, no self-doubt.
Oprah shares many personal moments in this book. She writes candidly about her fear of speaking at Harvard after being invited to give a commencement speech. As hard as it is to believe, she actually procrastinated and held off beginning to write it. She felt honoured to have been asked but also felt completely out of her depth. When she realised it was fear, and not a lack of insight or wisdom on her part, she was able to control that fear and get to work.
As the first African-American female billionaire, you might think that Oprah would link success to wealth but that’s not the case. It is telling that Oprah does not refer to her work as her job – she refers to it as her calling. It feels like money has been a by-product of her calling, never its sole aim. She urges us not to let traditional measures of success be the source of our self-esteem.
Oprah’s optimism and glass-half-full attitude is infectious. She sees no boundary to what an individual can achieve. The Path Made Clear is a beautiful book to read and then reread. Take the ideas and let them move you to take on your own goals and dreams. As Oprah writes: “Ready. Set. Go.”
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