What I Learned From Oprah: Stop Wasting My Life
I finally got around to watching the last episode of The Oprah Show yesterday. I know, I know, no rush. I guess my DVR isn't my biggest priority, which is probably a good thing.
Whether you're an Oprah fan or not, you would have been impacted by her words if you saw the finale. My husband had a good chuckle while I sniffled into my wad of tissues. I think he was laughing because he was so moved by Oprah that he was deflecting attention away from himself. Or maybe he was laughing at me because I was crying at Oprah. Anyway...
Everyone Has a Calling and a Platform
Oprah implored her audience to not waste any more time -- get out there and follow your calling -- which she defined as whatever "lights you up and tells you it's exactly where you're supposed to be, and it's exactly what you're supposed to be doing."
She wants you to acknowledge to yourself that you have a circle of influence and a platform. That could mean your family, coworkers and friends or it could mean an even broader community. Oprah insists that your life will be forever changed for the better if you, "Start embracing the life that is calling you, and use your light to serve the world."
Easier Said Than Done: Self Doubt Gets in the Way
Oprah also said that every single human being wants validation, wants to be heard and wants to matter. It sounds like if we follow our calling, we will be validated, heard, and we will matter.
There is a dark side to all of this happy-go-lucky motivational talk. Oprah said almost everyone feels unworthy in some area of life. No one has perfect confidence or perfect self-esteem. We all harbor self doubt.
While she talked about getting out there and blindly, madly and willingly following our passions, Oprah didn't mention that we might use self doubt as a reason to hide our lights under bushel baskets, to ignore or delay our calling.
I'm a Wimp and I'm Scared
Writing is my calling. I love sharing what I've learned, and I love making people laugh. So why don't I just fling the doors open wide and chuck reams of paper containing my writing far and wide? Why don't I write every day, hire a publicist and buy a bullhorn to put myself out there to the four corners?
Because I'm scared.
I frequently get nervous about writing. What if what I have to say is stupid or boring? What if it doesn't matter and no one reads it? Or worse, what if someone reads it and rolls her eyes, decides that she doesn't like me or the horse I rode in on? Worser than worse, what if I embarrass myself or the people I love?
To Stay Small Is to Fail at Life
So what if all those bad things happen? Nothing. Those are the monsters hiding under my bed. When I shine my flashlight on them, they are no less scary to me. But the fact is, they can't really hurt me.
What does hurt me is playing small. Every time I stifle my urge to write and kill off my creativity, I waste time. And that's what life is, my friends: time. To waste time avoiding my calling is to waste my life. That hurts.
Risks Are Scary, but Rewards Are Sweet
Let's all have a moment of truth. Do me a favor and ask yourself the following questions: "Where and when do I hold back around other people? How am I hiding? How am I keeping myself small? Where am I underachieving where it matters? What risk am I afraid to take? When do I feel distance between myself and others? Where could I connect more fully?"
I'm no Oprah, but I'm asking you to take a risk with me. Put yourself out there. Start doing whatever it is you're afraid to do. I am always rewarded when I do, when I show myself to others and when I connect with people.
Sure, sometimes I have to take my lumps in this world of internet trolls, but there's no point in giving your power away to the trolls. We all have trolls in our lives, whether it's the voice of a spiteful relative, a bully, or our own inner critic. It's up to us to stop feeding our trolls and tell them where to go.
Opening ourselves up to other people is hard. We risk rejection and criticism, but in the grand scheme of life, making ourselves vulnerable is rewarded nine times out of ten. There are no rewards in playing small, only the ability to keep avoiding taking a hard look at how we're spending our short time on this planet. Connecting and communicating, shining and following our calling will bring us closer to other people. Along with time, these are the things that life is made of: connection and love.
In the words of Ellen, "Unlike that quitter Oprah, I'm just getting started." Won't you join me?
Katie Morton is the founder of The Monarch Company. Get a FREE copy of her eBook, 10 Steps to a Blissful You, to get started on developing extraordinary willpower for life.
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