My daughter is one of the great joys of my life. She is nearly 16 and blossoming in so many ways. She is an aspiring writer-and quite good at it too. She has her own E-zine for missionary kid girls with a solid following. She is a curious and delightful mix of inhibition and fearlessness. She is at once afraid of butterflies and yet willing to bungee jump off the Corinth bridge in Greece. And she is a thinker. One of her recurring thoughts for me and my writing is if I will just blog about Oprah Winfrey I will have the most hits in the history of my blog. So–unashamedly I am taking Courtney’s suggestion and blogging about Oprah. Right up front-this is totally a blog experiment. I will try and add a little insight to the Oprah conversation. But in reality I am merely trying to see if by having Oprah’s name in my blog you will flock to see what is going on.
Oprah and Leadership: This will be the subtitle to my Oprah blog test. I am only going to use the internet and my opinions to offer up a few principles on Oprah and leadership.
1. Good leaders see possibilities beyond their own reality–I knew there was a way out. I knew there was another kind of life because I had read about it. I knew there were other places, and there was another way of being. This is a quote from Oprah about her determination to overcome her difficult upbringing. It is well documented that she lived a very challenging existence growing up in the deep South of the U.S. Yet, seemingly, her curiosity about another existence, an alternative reality, drove her to move toward success. The difference in every leader’s life between status quo and meaningful change is captured in the word “possibility.” We have to believe that what we see around us can be different. And we must increasingly understand how we might contribute to that needed change and remain focused to see it through.
2. Good leaders prepare well and stay focused–I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity. The essential question is not, “How busy are you?” but “What are you busy at?” These are actually two different quotes. But they represent another well-known fact about Oprah–she did not get to where she is by circumstance. She has worked very hard practicing her craft and staying focused on what matters to her. And she has arguably become one of the most powerful and influential people on the planet-without any true authoritative platform. Good leadership requires hard work and a lot of focus. It is easy to stay busy. It is difficult to remain true to your calling and cut away the clutter.
3. Good leaders ultimately live for something beyond themselves–What material success does is provide you with the ability to concentrate on other things that really matter. And that is being able to make a difference, not only in your own life, but in other people’s lives. Here I would disagree with Oprah in that you don’t have to wait for vast material success to make a difference in the lives of others. Certainly it provides you with the resources to do more-but let’s be honest-most people with vast wealth do not benefit others in proportion to their wealth. I think the greater principle is actually not living for yourself-but living your life to give it away. Oprah seems to know where she has come from and through efforts like her Leadership Academy for Girls, she is seeking to provide others with leveraged opportunity that was not readily available to her. Listen to the mission statement of the Oprah Winfrey Show-to use television to transform people’s lives, to make viewers see themselves differently and to bring happiness and a sense of fulfillment into every home. You can debate whether you think her show is actually able to do this-but her mission is focused and clear and aims for change beyond her own existence. Good leaders lead to empower others and and aim for something that transcends themselves.
Ultimately, I believe there is only one true reference point for worthy possibility, focused change, and a heart conviction to give your life away–and that is in the person of Jesus Christ.
So there you have it. This ends my Oprah test. What do you think?