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Oprah Says Relearn Old Lessons


When Oprah speaks, I listen. She was recently asked to give the graduation commencement address at the University of Southern California‘s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Her message was filled with simple advice. Similar to the book All I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten, Oprah started by saying this:

 “I don’t have any new lessons… I often think that it’s not the new lessons, so much as it is really the learning the old ones again and again.”

Oprah shared a variety of thoughts in her address, like:


  • Say thank you to people and actually mean it
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • Put your phone away at the dinner table
  • Know what you Tweet and post and Instagram today might be asked about in a job interview tomorrow, or 20 years from tomorrow
  • Be nice to little kids
  • Be nice to your elders

But it was her opening statement that really hit home. Rather than focus on learning new things, let’s make sure we have really nailed those old lessons.

Sometimes, in an effort to be all to all people, we try to learn a little bit of everything, never really allowing ourselves to become proficient at any one thing. We spread ourselves so thin that we struggle to be successful in the tasks that are really important.

How to Relearn Old Lessons

Think back over the lessons you have learned; lessons from school, from worship, from experiences, from friends and family. What lessons have resonated with you the most? From whom have you learned the most and what did they try to impart? If you were to have a conversation with your younger self, just starting out in the work world, what would you say?

Here are a few words of encouragement I might express:

  • Don’t worry, it gets better.
  • Be true to your own values.
  • If you fail, just keep trying.
  • What goes around, comes around.
  • Be firm on what you know to be true and important and right.

“Work on reprogramming your brain to win, so you can pivot and learn from your failure and move toward success.” – Marina Rose

In the article, The Most Valuable Lessons These 6 Top Entrepreneurs Have Learned, six entrepreneurs shared their top business lesson. Marina Rose offered this great piece of advice:

“Believe in yourself, intuition, and vision. My motto is, ‘To believe it and achieve it, I have to see it, feel it, smell it, and taste it.’ This requires an upgraded mindset. Think about the energy of a child: adventurous, fierce, unapologetic, inspirational, and tenacious. Most entrepreneurs lose that ‘spark’ of self-belief after a few setbacks because they view failure as inescapable. Yet, this is the most crucial time to work on reprogramming your brain to win, so you can pivot and learn from your failure and move toward success.”

You must first believe in yourself and your abilities before you can expect others to believe in you. This may be the most important life lesson to re-examine and re-learn. Take a close look in the mirror and recognize your strengths, your skills, your wins, and your potential. Look past the flaws and mistakes and focus only on the positive. If you must look at the mistakes, recognize them for the lessons they have been to help you become smarter and stronger.

Oprah ended her address with these words of advice:

“Your life journey is about learning to become more of who you are and fulfilling the highest, truest expression of yourself as a human being… That’s why you’re here. You will do that through your work and your art, your relationships, and your love.”

While meant for those just starting out in their career, there is a lot we can take away from her encouraging words. It’s never too late to embrace our truest self and project our genius to the world.

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