Early in the The Path Made Clear, the media mogul describes the moment she discovered her purpose. It was August, 1978, and she was working as a news anchor and reporter on People Are Talking, a Baltimore talk show—but it didn't feel right. "I knew I was not my authentic self," she writes. "And my bosses certainly made no secret of their feelings. They told me I was the wrong color, the wrong size, and that I showed too much emotion."
Despite never being "fully comfortable" covering the six o'clock news, the job did introduce her to her now-best friend Gayle King, who was a production assistant at the station. It also led her to an early aha moment. When she was "demoted" to co-host, she said she "experienced the first spark of what it means to become fully alive."
While interviewing Tom Carvel (of Carvel ice cream fame) and a soap opera actor on the show, she writes: "I felt lit up from inside, like I had come home to myself...I was energized in a way that fueled every cell of my being." Her entire body, she explains in the chapter, told her that she wasn't meant to be a reporter. As we now know, she was supposed to be a talk show host.
She goes on to to impart one of the many lessons that line the poetic pages of the book. "Your life is not static. Every decision, setback, or triumph is an opportunity to identify the seeds of truth that make you the wondrous human being that you are," she writes. "I'm not talking just about what you do for a living. When you pay attention to what feeds your energy, you move in the direction of the life for which you were intended."
To further convince you, Oprah adds, "I believe every one of us is born with a purpose. No matter who you are, what you do, or how far you think you have to go, you have been tapped by a force greater than yourself to step into your God-given calling."
Something that certainly wasn't her calling? Babysitting.
In a chapter called "The Reward," Oprah describes her first job working as a babysitter at age 15, netting fifty cents an hour. She realized that the "lady of the house," who was always leaving her piles of clothes to "tidy up"—without compensating her—didn't value her efforts. "But I did," Oprah writes. "I decided that no matter how much or how little money I made, I would never let that define my worth."
Instead, she says she now believes something the great Maya Angelou once taught her–that your worth is in the lives you've touched.
Most people wait to assess their legacy until their second or third act of life, when there is time to sit back and reflect. But what if, right now, you began to structure your decisions based on how you want to be remembered, rather than on what you believe you still need to accomplish.
"Ask yourself today, in the middle of your complicated, demanding, chaotic life: What do I want my legacy to be? And then start living from that intention."
Of course, pinpointing what you want doesn't always come easily, but Oprah notes in the book that you shouldn't try to look too far for it—the answer is always within. She thanks The Wizard of Oz, a.k.a "one of the great spiritual teachings of all time," with leading to this conclusion, which she described as, "probably the greatest aha moment" of her life. That is, like Dorothy discovers, "No matter how far away from yourself you may have strayed, there is always a path back. You already know you are and how to fulfill your destiny. And your ruby slippers are ready to carry you home."
Oprah added, "You have the power to discover your purpose and live your greatest truth. It doesn't matter how many yellow brick roads you encounter—it has always been right there, at home, in your heart."
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