You’re no doubt aware of the incredible level of success that Oprah Winfrey has achieved. Beyond wealth and accolades, Oprah Winfrey’s success story has shattered ceilings and inspired millions of people around the world.
Overcoming Adversity: The Oprah Winfrey Success Story
Oprah Winfrey was born in in 1954 in rural Mississippi, and could hardly have entered the world in poorer conditions.
She spent her formative years going back and forth between her mother, her grandmother, her father, and back, always struggling with her circumstances.
Being a poor, black girl in America in the 1960s was hardly a recipe for mind-blowing success.
Yet, succeed she did.
From an early age, Oprah showed tremendous strength of personality. Her grandmother often recalled how naturally Oprah took to the stage and performed – whether she was actually on a stage or not.
It was this rich personality that led her to join and excel at television broadcasting.
What Motivated Oprah to Become Successful?
In 1971, while she was still in high school, Oprah’s style and emotional delivery won her the attention of and a position with a radio station in Nashville. After transitioning to TV in Nashville and later Baltimore, she eventually moved to Chicago in 1983 to host the low-rated morning show, AM Chicago.
With top-ratings, Oprah Winfrey overtook Donahue as the top-rated talk show in Chicago. After a few years, the show was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show and went on to air for 25 years.
Oprah’s unique style resulted in an entirely new form of communication on television – that of a more intimate confessional, despite being on national tv. Her total empathy with guests – often to the point of tears – created an environment where they felt more willing to share personal stories.
She popularized and revolutionized what’s referred to as “tabloid talk shows.” Newsday‘s Les Payne wrote, “Oprah Winfrey is sharper than Donahue, wittier, more genuine, and far better attuned to her audience, if not the world.”
Why is Oprah Winfrey important?
How did she do all of that, and more?
By not believing what she was told.
While being poor, black, and female in rural Mississippi may have been facts of her early life, Oprah did not believe that those labels were the sum total of her existence.
She did not believe that she was limited by those labels.
She did not believe the people in her life who were telling her that she would never amount to anything because of those labels.
Oprah could have easily let those whispers become the story that she told herself, but she chose differently. She faced her fears and challenges and believed in herself.
Our stories… they’re powerful, aren’t they?
What stories are you telling yourself, right now?
Are you listening to people around you who say that you can’t do it? You can’t possibly build a business online. There’s no way you can make enough money doing that. That’s impossible.
Or, are you listening to the kind of person who supports and encourages you?
Oprah’s grandmother is a great example of such a person. She saw early on that Oprah had a passion and skill for public speaking and encouraged it.
But more importantly than that, Oprah’s grandmother supported that young woman so thoroughly that she helped cultivate a positive sense of self-worth.
She believed in Oprah, which allowed Oprah to believe in herself.
Overcome Fears & Self Doubt
While we may not share Oprah’s original challenges, we can all relate to the fear of not being good enough.
Whether it’s starting a new business, figuring out how to promote your website, publishing a new blog post, getting into affiliate marketing, or standing up in front of a crowd of people, we can give into the fear that we won’t be accepted, we’ll be humiliated, and we’ll become notorious failure stories.
We can tell ourselves that it’s a terrible idea, it will never work, and that we need to save ourselves from the pain and embarrassment the idea represents.
Or, we can tell ourselves that’s just a story, and it doesn’t have to be our story.
We can, and should, resist those fears and self-doubts.