Oprah gave a very Oprah commencement address at Colorado College over the weekend. The billionaire dished on anecdotes from her talk show, promoted life in service, reminded students they needed to get a job and make eye contact, and plugged her book, a copy of which was handed out with each diploma.
“I’m here to tell you that you actually do get to transform the world every day by your actions. Small steps lead to big accomplishments,” she said. “I’m here to tell you that your life isn’t one big break like everyone tell you it is. It’s actually about taking one life-transforming step at a time.”
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“…The truth is, you cannot fix everything,” Oprah continued. “But what you can do, here and now, is make a decision, because life is about decisions. And the decision is that you will use your life in service; you will be in service to life. You will speak up. You will show up. You will stand up. You will sit in. You will volunteer. You will vote. You will shout out. You will help. You will lend a hand. You will offer your talent and your kindness however you can, and you will radically transform whatever moment you’re in – which leads to bigger moments.”
Oprah spoke of how she chose to stop doing certain types of TV – interviewing the Klan, showcasing cheaters – to doing shows that were in service to the viewer.
She also admitted she had a “beautiful life… whatever you imagine my life to be like – ‘I wonder what Oprah’s doing right now?’ – it’s always 10 times better than whatever you think.” She also had great wealth, she said – “Money’s fabulous, I love it” – but said those things came to her because she was “paying attention – you have to pay attention to your life because it is speaking to you all the time… the bumps in the road led me to a path made clear.” The Path Made Clear is also the name of her new book.
Oprah then doled out some practical advice to graduates.
“Your anxiety does not contribute one iota to your progress,” she said. She urged them not to define themselves through measures of “traditional” success because it is beyond their control.
She told the graduates to take a deep breath and repeat after her: “Everything is always working out for me. That’s my mantra. Make it yours.”
But first, she said, “You do need a job. Yup. You need a job. And it does not need to be your life’s mission, not your greatest passion, not your most fulfilled self, but a job that pays your rent and lets you move out of your parents’ house.”
Other bits of advice:
“Yes, it does pay to floss.”
“Yes, you do need to look people in the eye when you speak to them.”
“You need to keep your commitments.”
“You need to make your bed every day because when you do, it makes the whole house look better.”
“You need to not bring your cell phones to the dinner table.”
She plugged her tome, a recent New York Times bestseller, “The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose,” featuring short essays on her life principles, interspersed with quotes from other “thought leaders” she admires. Students received a copy of the book when they were handed their diploma.
“You get a book, and you get a book, and everybody gets a book!” she exclaimed at the end.
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