5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Oprah

Today is historic. Today is the airing of the last episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. If you’ve been following my blog you know how much I love Oprah. It was on my life list to make it to a taping of her show – been there, done that! It was fabulous.

As a journalist – I’ve gotten my inspiration from women like Oprah. I would watch her show everyday with my mother and I wanted to be just like her. Oprah has said many times that if she weren’t in TV she would have been a teacher. Well she’s been just that to many people in all walks of life through the years, including me.

Here’s my list of some of the lessons I’ve learned at “Oprah University:”

1. Give:

Oprah’s been both praised and ridiculed for all the gifts she’s given away in her “favorite things” episodes. From iPads to lasagna pans – she’s given it all away to screaming fans. Don’t forget the free trip to Australia and oh yeah…the “you get a car, and you get a car, and you get a car,” giveaway.

The lesson here is that it’s always better to give than receive. It makes people happy. Try it even if it’s on the smallest scale – you’ll be happier too.

2. Listen:

From celebrities to everyday people, Oprah has had thousands of guests on her set. With each one she’s sat and listened – really listened and saw the person behind the story.

She’s also listened to herself and to her heart by only taking on projects that really mattered to her personally. That’s a huge lesson in itself.

3. Forgive:

She’s always been very open about the abuse and hardships she faced as a child. But somehow she’s been able to rise above it and forgive. Throughout her 25 years she has given guests and viewers the opportunity to do the same thing.

Holding a grudge can make you an angry person.  But if forgiveness will help you heal — then so be it!

4. Surprise:

She’s said she doesn’t like to be surprised for fear that she’ll break into the “ugly cry.” But the element of surprise has been used time and time again on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The producer in me knows that’s because it makes for damn good TV! Oprah has surprised people with houses and money and college educations and long-lost siblings (her own included).

The lesson here is that it’s nice to do something good for someone you love. If it’s flowers or their favorite candy – everyone deserves a little surprise in their life. Be thoughtful.

5. Strive:

Her own story – that of a poor girl from Mississippi who persevered and grew to a media mogul – is truly inspirational. She’s showed her viewers “if I can do it, you can too.” She’s given hope to the hopeless and a voice to the voiceless.

This is probably the most important lesson I’ve learned from Oprah’s show. Strive to be better. Strive to want more. Strive to live your best life. Just strive.


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12 replies
  1. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Loved your post so much, I just had to Tweet it on out there. What a great summation and fantastic life lessons too… simple things we can all do to brighten the lives of others. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Shirley
    Shirley says:

    A great summation Paula. What I appreciated about Oprah’s show whether the topic was provocative or painful, was being left with that “triumph of the spirit” feeling. She showed us that ordinary folks have the capacity to get through and get over just about anything. What should she roll out next? I think she should hook up with the mayor of Newark and Zuckerberg’s $1m contribution and revolutionize inner city education systems.

  3. Shelagh Braley
    Shelagh Braley says:

    Such great lessons for all of us, journalists and entrepreneurs alike. Oprah has given us so much — to look up to and model — and she’s so positive. I’d love to know what she’s going to roll out. Any ideas? What *should* Oprah do next? Let’s make a list of opportunities we think Oprah should pursue!


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