Attention Oprah admirers! If you dream to create a career you love, share your best gifts to help others, and feel supported by an abundant revenue flow, Oprah Winfrey is your ultimate career role model! Today's career advice blog spills all about what Oprah calls her most important success strategy: the spiritual practice of creating conscious intention.
This spiritual practice will support you in two ways that traditional business advice can't:
1. To recognize your genius if seeing your brilliance feels hard, and
2. To experience success beyond your expectations (aka Oprah-style).
Read on to receive a 3-step process so that you can model Oprah's way of business and elevate any troubled project or relationship into love today!
What conscious intention is and why it matters
Oprah attributes the success of her television show as #1 for 25 years in large part based on her spiritual technique to create a conscious intention for each show. According to Oprah, she required that her producers present a conscious intention for each show before she would approve it. She would not do a show simply to get a result like to advance ratings or look good by featuring a big celebrity. Rather she required that each show have a conscious intention that was authentic, loving, and created goodness in the world. She believed in infusing conscious, loving intentions into each show to ensure that the work genuinely contributed to the audience. And obviously, that operational tactic paid off for her with great love and success coming back her way. Oprah talks openly about this practice and attributes it to master spiritual teacher Gary Zukav and his teachings in his book Seat of the Soul.
Gary describes intention as "the energy that infuses the word or the deed." In other words, your intention is the real reason behind what you say or do. Your intention matters because it has an impact on the results you get. In his book, Gary explicitly shares why intention matters based in both science and spirituality:
"Every action, thought, and feeling is motivated by an intention, and that intention is a cause that exists as one with an effect. If we participate in the cause, it is not possible for us not to participate in the effect."
The two sentences quoted here are known as the Law of Cause and Effect, and also known as karma. In essence what this offers is the simple mystical and scientific Truth that: the energy you send out is the energy you get back.
The exciting news in bringing consciousness to your intention is that it removes the sense of powerless you might sometimes feel in your life or work when you are not getting the results you want. When you are not getting the results you want, Gary explains that you actually ARE getting what you hold as an intention. The problem is that your winning intention is unconscious - and you're not aware of or acknowledging it. So basically, when you are not getting what you say you desire you are unconsciously holding an intention that is contrary to what you say you desire. For example, have you ever said you desire to hit a goal, yet you don't actually hit the goal? The reason you don't hit the goal is that in your subconscious mind you are honoring a different intention, something like: you prefer valuing comfort rather than taking the risk required to pursue that goal, or you hold a subconscious belief that the goal is not attainable and so you don't actually put much attention on it.
Checking your intentions for fear
When you drill down deep, in essence, there are only ever two possible intentions: love or fear. Intentions of love are focused on service: your motivation is to contribute to others by sharing your gifts. Intentions of fear are focused on results: your motivation is to look good or avoid pain.
This distinction of love versus fear is important when you apply The Law of Cause and Effect. Together, these concepts mean that when you act with an intention of fear, the effect that you create is more fear, and when you act with an intention of love, the effect that you create is more love. This is aligned with the idea of karma: the energy that you send out is the energy that comes back to you. And this is Oprah's way of business that she swears by that allowed her to be #1.
To consciously shift your intentions from fear to love begins by first recognizing that you operate often on the fear side of intention. This includes behavior to make yourself look good (even when you don't feel good) and behavior to avoid pain (like physical pain or emotional abandonment). Before you get to actively experience change, you'll first elevate your consciousness to notice how often fear is driving you and draining you. It is important to not beat yourself up here. When you recognize this pattern, you are simply noticing the norm of humanity today. As a human being, you've been indoctrinated with fear in how you're raised, in school structures, in advertising, and in the belief systems you were taught around work.
Here are 2 common examples of acting from fear in your work life that might surprise you:
Scenario 1: Taking on an extra project with the intention to not disappoint the person asking.
Oprah calls the act of doing something simply to please someone else (and to your own displeasure): "the disease to please." She often references how in the past this disease got her in trouble. Acting with the intention to please someone is acting with the intention of fear. You're acting in fear because when you really drill down, you're acting to get a particular result: the other person's approval. You're afraid that the person who asked you will judge you or abandon you if you say no. So saying yes comes from your sense of obligation or guilt to avoid pain rather than freely offering your gifts. This will always lead to negative impacts in some way - for you, the other person, the project, and/or the relationship.
Scenario 2: Creating a new product or service with the intention to increase revenue or gain notoriety.
It's not that Oprah always turned down celebrity guests who could cause a boost in ratings, rather she would do such a show when the producers could infuse it with love and some force for good in the messaging and the interview. To act just for monetary gain or notoriety is acting in fear because deep down the energy comes from a desire to look good (to appear successful, to be admired) or to avoid pain (like not having things money or attention can buy). To act only for the purposes of money or attention will lead to negative consequences of some sort.
Shifting your intentions around any action from fear to love has countless benefits. Most notably, this shift can increase your connection to your genius (which for some people to see your own brilliance feels very hard). If you are someone who struggles to see your own genius, it is likely that fear is blinding you. Fear-based intentions, even if unconscious, will take your attention away from what you truly and innately are drawn toward, and divert you to a difficult and dark path of work layered in guilt and obligation. Navigating in your genius and brilliance and inside of loving intentions will always feel the opposite - joyful and filled with desire. And so something I have seen time and time again is that when you reveal and purge out fear-based intentions and begin to operate from your innate loving nature, your genius is clear, easy to see, and flows generously.
To help you determine whether you are acting from fear or love in any professional situation, here are a few clues:
Consciously sharing love at work, a project example
You can begin consciously setting intentions by first discovering and then reminding yourself about your deeper intentions in your work that are about contributing your gifts to help people. You can bring these intentions more into your consciousness by writing easy-to-remember intention statements and then reading them regularly, to start your day, before a meeting, as part of a project plan.
Your conscious intentions - that come from love - speak to higher qualities, not results, that you want your audience (customers, clients, team members, etc) to experience. In other words, intentions infused with love speak to the space you hold for your audience. As an example, I recently wrote an article as a contributing author to a university textbook. I am human, so immediately felt struck by the opportunity for this article to give me notoriety by being a published author. If I wrote the article from that place of fear, I likely would have had a hard time deciding the topic and also writing and completing the article. Instead, like a good student of Oprah and Gary, the first action I took was to meet with my co-author and consciously set our intentions for the article. We explored the question: what space did we desire to hold for our audience? Here is what we came up with:
- Providing a space/opportunity for wholeness
- Giving permission to embrace the feminine
- Guiding to be more authentic in self and accept others
These intentions carried us through the process to write something that is truly beautiful and has indeed been accepted for publication.
3 steps to begin your conscious intention practice
You can begin your practice to do business like Oprah and bring conscious awareness to your intentions, with this 3-step process:
(1) Write out your conscious intentions for any project, to elevate your consciousness to love
(2) Read your intentions regularly to hold a loving consciousness
(3) Recognize when you are operating in fear and make a conscious shift to love
Step 1: Write out your conscious intentions
You might begin using this practice to transform a project that feels stressful or a relationship that feels strained. Before you start the project or attend a meeting with the person at issue, take time to reflect on and write out your higher intentions.
To set your intentions, ask these questions: