Iconic talk show host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey concluded her eight-city The Life You Want tour in San Jose, CA. Over the course of two days, Winfrey and spiritual advisors that she refers to as her “trailblazers” talked to thousands of attendees in the SAP Center about the paradigm shift required in order to create the life you want. In addition to Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Elizabeth Gilbert, Iyanla Vanzant and Pastor Rob Bell enlightened attendees with their wisdom. Saturday, November 15 also included an emotional segment entitled, “Standing O-Vation” where Winfrey and Toyota ambassador and paralympian Amy Purdy recognized Kimberly Bryant, Founder of Black Girls Code.
On the evening of Friday, November 14, Winfrey took the stage and candidly recounted her journey from living in poverty with her grandmother in Mississippi where they had no running water or electricity. Winfrey’s grandmother was a maid and the only ambition she had for her grand daughter was to also be a maid. However, as a little girl, Winfrey believed the “still small voice” or the Holy Spirit, which told her she was destined for a greater life. Winfrey placed great emphasis on following the “threads” of your life. From the time you are a child, there’s something we all naturally do and that continues to follow us throughout life, that’s our passion and our purpose.
Winfrey’s consistent “thread” was her great orator abilities. Her grandmother taught her to read and by the age of two she was reciting scriptures in church. Winfrey says things rarely happen randomly, or “out of the blue” if we are in tune with our religious beliefs, whatever they may be; we receive the “message” which first comes as a whisper. Winfrey says one of the keys to success comes from being connected to the Holy Spirit. She reiterated to the audience, “You are co-creating your life with the energy of your intentions.” She referenced the third law of motion in physics which states that whatever energy goes out, it always comes back to you.
She lived with her mother from age eight to thirteen. Over this time she was raped, molested and began acting out so much so that her mother tried to take her to a detention home. However, there were no beds available so she was sent to live with her father whom she didn’t know.
Her father instructed her not to bring shame on the family by getting pregnant. She emotionally recounted that her father said he would rather see her body floating in the river than for her to be a teenage mother. However, Winfrey was already hiding a pregnancy and the stress of her father’s warning sent her into a premature labor. Following the loss of her son, Winfrey’s father told her that she got a second chance to turn her life around. She emphasized to the audience no matter what you’ve gone through, as long as you have breath in your body, you can change the way you think about yourself and your life, you have a second chance to do better.
By the time Winfrey was 19 years old, she was a college student and a nightly news anchor. She soon received a job at a station in Baltimore, which was a turning point in her career as the station manager wanted Winfrey to drastically change her appearance. He said her eyes were too far apart, her nose was too big and that she should change her name to “Susie.” In an attempt to appease her supervisors, Oprah let the station send her to New York to get her hair done in a fancy French salon. However, the stylist didn’t know how to manage her ethnic hair and she ended up with a French perm that made her hair fall out. Now Winfrey had an even bigger issue of being accepted at the Baltimore station.
The lesson she wanted audiences to get from this particular story was if something is not in alignment with your spirit then you should move in a new direction. The next step for Winfrey was working in Chicago were she found immense success with a morning show which eventually led to her legendary talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show which was the number one daytime show for twenty-years. In the early seasons of the show, Winfrey had a controversial episode where she was interviewing skinheads and members of the Ku Klux Klan in hopes to bring a better understanding to their lives and how they view African Americans. Instead of the show making a difference, the Klan members used that episode as a recruitment video for their organization. Following that episode, Winfrey made a decision that would change the trajectory of her career as a talk show host; a choice that she attributes to her show’s twenty-five year success.
Winfrey said she decided not to be used. But instead utilize television as a force for good. She asked herself how could she be of service instead of looking at the show as just a job. She was going to use her platform to be of service to others.
When she transitioned from her show and established the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) it was initially unsuccessful and she received countless criticisms from the media stating that she had failed. When Winfrey was beginning to believe the detractions she looked for spiritual guidance, which helped her to change her perspective. She said, “It’s amazing grace that this Negro girl no one thought could be anything now has her own network.” She shifted her perspective to be grateful for what she had accomplished and in turn her network began to triumph. Winfrey concluded by asking the audience to write a new story for themselves. She said, “Create a new vision for the life you want and how you will attract it.”