To be successful in a meaningful career guided by your soul’s calling, there’s arguably no greater role model than Oprah Winfrey. Well lucky us, Oprah just came out with a new book titled “The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose” where she offers many great stories about how she and others unveiled their callings in an effort to show you how to move forward to discover your path. There are 3 points among the book's many lessons and stories that I believe are most important to those of you seeking to clarify your career path. They are the pieces of advice I give most often and find most helpful for getting unstuck:
1. When you’re ready, the universe organizes to help you get on your path.
When you hold a vision to be on your highest and most authentic path, the universe organizes to help you get there. Doors open to show you where you are meant to go and doors close to show you where you are not meant to go. Oprah's early career story of working in journalism demonstrates this point. While in a news anchor role in a highly coveted time slot, Oprah felt misplaced. She was exhausted most of the time, didn't feel fully comfortable in her role, and was not showing up authentically. Ultimately, TV station execs saw that she was not thriving and shifted her to a non-reporting role where instead she would interview people as the co-host of a show called "People Are Talking." Although this change looked like a demotion, this was the universe organizing to show Oprah her purpose and put her on her path. As an interviewer, her raw talent was immediately apparent. She reflects that from day one doing interviews felt like she was "lit up from the inside." Rather than the tiredness she had been struggling with, she now felt fully alive. At the end of her first show, she felt a deep knowing resonating in her heart and her entire body that "this" was what she was supposed to be doing. Oprah says this is the day her job ended and her calling began.
2. You have natural, raw talent and can use it to get on your path now.
Like Oprah, you have natural, raw talent that will carry you on your career path. That raw talent is present from birth, no one needs to teach you. Oprah talks about her own childhood where she was "a natural" at speaking to audiences. She began speaking at her church at 3 years old. By age 8, she was touring churches throughout Nashville. Similarly, she shares in the book about famous interior designer Nate Berkus. As a little boy, he showed a deep sensitivity to spaces - how they looked and felt. He recalls struggling when he had to share a bedroom with his little brother on the one hand, and also on the other hand, he experienced great joy in organizing and designing his own space. Another example of raw talent apparent in childhood, Oprah also shares about Lin-Manuel Miranda, the playwright, actor, and composer behind the smash Broadway hit "Hamilton." Lin-Manuel recalls his "rich, imaginative" childhood was filled with performing in plays and creating his own productions as captured on countless VHS tapes.
3. You don’t need to know how your whole path will unfold to get started.
When seeking your calling and following your biggest dreams, Oprah shares that it is natural and normal to feel resistance. She talks about lessons learned from author and screenplay writer Steven Pressfield. He says we should expect to feel resistance within ourselves when doing anything that matters to us. James explains that dreams and the shadow of resistance are like yin and yang and go together - always. This means it is natural to uncover your calling, look at it, and feel afraid to move forward. You often feel not good enough or somehow ill equipped. You might resist your path saying"I don’t know HOW to do this." This, however, is simply fear. Oprah affirms that you don't have to see the whole path and how it unfolds in sharing the story of TV host Steven Colbert. Steven talks about having a vision he did not know how to achieve when designing his show "The Colbert Report." He recalls saying in the beginning: "I don't know how to do a nightly comedy show that is also about love, but I'd like it in some way to be about love." Looking back on his wildly successful show now, he admits it was better to not know the way because that meant anything was possible. Oprah brings this point home through expert life coach and TV personality Iyanla Vanzant who says: “affirm your vision...know what you're doing [and] why you're doing it...and sometimes the how only shows up on a need-to know basis. Don't wait for the how .... sometimes you just have to walk blindly." And when you do this, she says, "the vision will unfold much grander than you could have ever even imagined or asked for."
Definitely worth a read of the entire book to hear Oprah's stories of finding her path in amazing trailblazing endeavors like creating the Oprah Winfrey Show, her own television network, her school for girls in South Africa, and preparing to deliver a commencement speech at Harvard University. (It’s so reassuring to hear Oprah gets scared too!) You'll also enjoy many great stories and pieces of advice sure to inspire you on your path from dozens dream followers Oprah has interviewed, like: writer Elizabeth Gilbert, mega church preacher Joel Osteen, comedian Tracy Morgan, and rock star musician Jon Bon Jovi. You can get the book now at the link below. I got and loved the Audible version because all the various guests recorded their own stories and bits of advice. Enjoy! And if you do get the book, let me know what it inspires in you!