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10 Lesson's Writers Should Learn from Oprah

Last week I promised another post about lessons I learned from Oprah--or rather from Oprah's last show. However, I feel so strongly that these are lessons not just for writers but for all those who want to make a difference in the world. Writers need to see themselves as change agents, for their words ultimately do change lives.

I work with a lot of writers who are change agents. Some work one-one-one with people, many speak to large groups, while others work toward creating global change. Even if you simply write to be read, each time a reader picks up you book, your words impact them and can change them for the better, can inspire them to change or to create change in their lives or in the world.

In much condensed form and sometimes paraphrased, therefore, here are lessons gleaned from Oprah's lasts show for all of us to put to use in our writing lives and lives in general:

  1. "Everybody has a calling." I wrote about this in my last post. If you feel passionate about something. If you feel you have a purpose or a mission, this is your calling. Combine your passion and your purpose, and you will feel inspired. Write from that place. Act from that place.
  2. "You are exactly where you are supposed to be doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing." Trust that everything is working out they way it should. That doesn't mean you can't make changes. Use the place where you are now as a springboard. And make every experience, every now moment, count.
  3. "Each one of you has a platform, your circle of influence." It doesn't matter who you are or what you do, you can create change in the world. You can teach your children, influence your neighbors, reach readers through a blog, speak at your church, produce a newsletter you email to your friends. We all have a way to extend our reach and become change agents.
  4. "Nobody but you is responsible for your life." Stop whining about how no one has published your book for you, you can't get assignments from publications, you aren't earning enough money...or whatever. Take responsibility. Make some changes. Get more determined. Take action. Stop blaming.
  5. "Life is energy...You are responsible for the energy you create for yourself and for the energy you bring to others." This applies to #4. Whatever energy you put out comes back. Be honest about the energy you put out each day. Is it negative Is it positive? What energy do you want to bring to your readers? What energy do you need to bring to them to help them achieve the results you promise. What energy do you need to generate to achieve the results you desire?
  6. "Own the life for which you were created." Do you want to continue playing small or start playing big? If you have dreams of becoming an author or a successful blogger, go take ownership of that life. If you have skills and talents, make use of them. You were created with a purpose. Fulfill it. Achieve your full potential. Don't waste it.
  7. "You are worthy because you were born and you are here. You alone are enough." We all have issues with worthiness. There's a difference between thinking we deserve something and knowing we are worthy of it. If you're worthiness issues are getting in the way of achieving what you want--such as a publishing contract or a successful book or a byline--it's time to get over it. It's time to realize that just being born and being you is all it takes to be worthy of what you desire. You are enough just the way you are.
  8. "Everyone wants to be heard." The people in your audience want to know: "Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?" We all want these things, but as you write or speak, try telling your audience, "I see you, I hear you, and what you say matters to me." Oprah did this, and that's what made her so successful. Do this with your family, you friends--everyone who matters to you.
  9. "God is life, and your life is always speaking to you." Listen for guidance. Feel the force of something greater than you. It's there. It guides little underprivileged girls from the South to Chicago where they become rich and famous television talk show hosts who influence many. "Be still and know it," says Oprah. Don't forget that a spiritual element exists in life, in business and will can guide you to the success you seek.
  10. Be grateful. For the work before you, for the audience who reads and listens, for the ability to give to others and to influence change, for the opportunities that come your ways (and those that don't), and for every life experience, since each one makes you who you are and adds to the depth of your writing.

Try working with these lessons. I will be doing the same. None of them are new to me, but I needed to hear them again. I needed to hear them from Oprah, the Queen of Change Agents, the Great Influencer. They'll be no whining from me for a while. I'll be working on my own worthiness, energy, listening, gratitude practice, etc. And I'll be remembering her authenticity...how she opened up in front of her audience and spoke of being abused and struggling with her weight, how she laughed and cried and how shared herself for 25 years.