Yesterday Oprah Winfrey was given an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the prestigious Harvard University during their 362nd commencement ceremony. A Mississippi native, Oprah seemed so full of joy and emotion to be among the scholars at Harvard, her whole reaction was so awesome to see! Still she was composed enough to deliver a moving commencement speech, and dropped some wisdom that she’s learned along the way in building her own empire from the ground up. As well as what she’s learned from the feeling of failure. I graduated last year but as I listened I felt like I was graduating all over again. I hung on to her every word as she spoke, because even a year later I am still growing into my own. This speech is a must hear/must see.
ON WHAT SHE’S LEARNED FROM FAILURE
I am even prouder to share a fundamental truth you might not have learned even as graduates of Harvard. It doesn’t matter how far you might rise, at some point you are bound to stumble. If you are constantly doing what we do, raising the bar, If you are constantly pushing yourself higher, the law of average predicts that you will at some point fall. When you do, remember this: there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction. When you are down there in the hole, it looks like failure.
So this past year, I had to spoon feed those words to myself. When you are down in the hole, it’s really okay to feel bad for a little while. Give yourself time to mourn what you think you may have lost, but then learn from every mistake. Every encounter and particularly your mistakes are there to teach you and force you to be more of who you are.
Then, figure out what is the next right move. The key to life is to develop an internal moral emotional GPS that can tell you which way to go.
ON CREATING YOUR OWN STORY
The challenge of life, I have found, is to build a resume that doesn’t simply tell a story about what you want to be, but its a story about who you want to be. It doesn’t just tell a story about what you want to be but why. A story that’s not just a collection of titles, and positions, but a story that’s really about your purpose. When you inevitably stumble and find yourself stuck in a hole, that is the story that will get you out. What is your true calling, what is your dharma, your true purpose.
Maya Angelou always says… When you Learn, Teach. When you Get, Give. That is what makes your story great.
No matter what challenges or encounters you face, you will find true success and happiness if you have only one goal and that is this, to fulfill the highest most truthful expression of yourself as a human being. You want to max out your humanity by using your energy to lift yourself up, your family, and the people around you.
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. The world needs people who have come alive.
From time to time, you may stumble, fall, you will for sure have questions and doubts about your path but I know this, if you are willing to listen and to be guided by that still small voice that is the GPS within yourself to find out what makes you come alive, you will be more than okay. You will be happy, you will be successful, and you will make a difference in the world.
OTHER GREAT QUOTES FROM HER SPEECH
“Even though this is the college where Facebook was born, my hope is that you will try and go out and have more face-to-face conversations with people you disagree with.”
“I have to say the single most important lesson I learned in 25 years is there’s a common denominator in our experience. We want to be validated. We want to be understood.”
“To fulfill the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being, you want to max out your humanity.”
“Lean in to use your voice, lean in to make change where it needs to be made, and lean in to invest your heart and your soul in ideas and people.”
WATCH THE FULL SPEECH BELOW