That journey starts right here.
In her latest book, The Path Made Clear, Oprah shares what she sees as a guide for activating your deepest vision of yourself, offering the framework for creating not just a life of success, but one of significance. The book’s ten chapters are organized to help you recognize the important milestones along the road to self-discovery, laying out what you really need in order to achieve personal contentment, and what life’s detours are there to teach us.
Oprah opens each chapter by sharing her own key lessons and the personal stories that helped set the course for her best life. She then brings together wisdom and insights from luminaries in a wide array of fields, inspiring readers to consider what they’re meant to do in the world and how to pursue it with passion and focus. Renowned figures such as Eckhart Tolle, Brene Brown, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jay-Z, and Ellen DeGeneres share the greatest lessons from their own journeys toward a life filled with purpose.
Paired with over 100 awe-inspiring photographs to help illuminate the wisdom of these messages, The Path Made Clear provides readers with a beautiful resource for achieving a life lived in service of your calling – whatever it may be.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Your life isn't about a big break. It's about taking one significant life-transforming step at a time.
August 14, 1978.
It was a Monday, my first day working on a Baltimore talk show called People Are Talking. It was also the last day I had a job.
Up until then, I'd been a news anchor and reporter. I knew I was not my authentic self. 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. I've always said that the best part about that experience was meeting my best friend, Gayle, who was a production assistant at the same station.
I could feel I was misplaced. Even though the six o'clock news was a time slot most young journalists covet, I was never fully comfortable in that seat. And, when I look back at the tapes, I can still hear the pretend anchor voice I used on air.
It wasn't until I was unceremoniously "demoted" to cohost of People Are Talking that I experienced the first spark of what it means to become fully alive.
During the show, I interviewed Tom Carvel, the Carvel ice-cream man, and the actor who played Benny on All My Children. Not exactly glamorous, but as we talked, I felt lit up from the inside, like I had come home to myself. When the hour ended, there was a sense of knowing resonating within my heart and radiating to the hairs on the back of my neck. My entire body told me this was what I was supposed to do. As a reporter, I'd been exhausted all the time. I really had to drag myself in to work. But after one day on this local talk show, I was energized in a way that fueled every cell of my being.
There was no doubt that the seeds of what was to give my life meaning and purpose had been planted. That day, my "job" ended and my calling began.
Years later, The Oprah Winfrey Show would achieve a level of success no one could have predicted. It was an exhilarating experience. And yet, another little kernel of knowing was revealing itself to me. Even at the show's peak, I had a deep awareness that a supreme moment of destiny still awaited me. That's why, after twenty-five years, I trusted my instinct when it told me, This isn't it. There's something else. The show was my home, the audience was one of the great loves of my life, but I couldn't ignore the flicker of certainty telling me it was time to move on.
The years following the end of the show brought many unexpected possibilities, and I had some daunting moments when creating a new cable network, OWN. Stopping to consider my own advice of turning challenges into opportunities is what allowed me to move forward.
This is the lesson I hope you take away from this chapter: 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. 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. Trust that the Universe has a bigger, wider, deeper dream for you than you could ever imagine for yourself.
Growing up in the church, one of my favorite Bible parables was about the mustard seed: If you have faith, even if it's as little as a mustard seed, you can move mountains. Anything is possible. As a child, listening from my seat in church, this brought me so much comfort — just as it did when I was struggling as a reporter in Baltimore and as it still does today. The mustard seed is such a tiny speck of a thing. I am emboldened by the belief that all I need is a mustard seed of faith and no matter what, I am going to be all right.
As you begin to identify the seeds of knowing along your own path, the first question to ask yourself is, What do I believe?
Do you believe that you are worthy of happiness, success, abundance, fulfillment, peace, joy, and love?
What I know for sure is you become what you believe.
SUE MONK KIDD
I think life is a process. You wake up. Then you wake up some more. One self dies. Another is born. It's an evolution of consciousness. If you look at the way God created the world, it's always about a seed and a sprout and a flower. And then it goes back to seed. It's always about process and unfolding. We're on a journey of greater and greater consciousness, becoming more compassionate, more loving, and that is a lifelong spiraling process.
You are a mighty person in the making. You are a miracle in motion. Motion is movement. We're not there yet. But we're in motion. At all times, we are all going through recovery and discovery. Some people stop their lives because they are in recovery. But you should be in recovery and discovery at the same time.
Dr. SHEFALI TSABARY
Whether we like to recognize it or not, even the most unconscious person, against their greatest will, is on a process to evolve. Life gives us opportunity after opportunity to ask, Is this my truest self? Or am I living the inauthentic self? Becoming conscious means to recognize when that moment arrives. And it's coming and it's coming and it's coming.
Pastor A. R. BERNARD
OPRAH: Do you believe that everybody has a calling?
PASTOR A. R. BERNARD: Absolutely.
OPRAH: How do we open ourselves to that calling? How can we be more open to hear and more open to find the path that is our calling?
PASTOR BERNARD: First we have to believe that we do have a purpose. Every individual has a purpose. And when we begin to think that way, we will appreciate the sacredness of life. And not be destructive to any aspect of it. We'll respect people better. Too often people think purpose is that one thing for which I was born. But what happens if you achieve that at age twenty-seven? You have no reason to live beyond that. Purpose is dynamic. Purpose continues to be applied throughout your life. Because your gifts, your talents, and your abilities that are given to you by God remain consistent throughout your life. But how you apply that changes as you live life from one level to another and you go through stages of life.
There are still huge swaths of women who never got the memo that their lives belong to them.
There's this instinct that they need a permission slip from the principal's office for anything. You are allowed to ask yourself some really important questions about your life. You are allowed to take accountability and ownership for your own journey. You're allowed to ask what serves you. I know you've been trained up to serve everyone. But you're allowed to turn that on yourself and honor your own life that you were given.
Here's the question. What have I come here to do with my life? That's the question that begins every single quest. What have I come here to do with my life? There's no one who hasn't had that question come to them. That's the call. Now, you can choose to ignore that question or you can pursue it. And the pursuit is the beginning of the journey.
Bishop T. D. JAKES
If we can get the clutter out of our mind, if we can get the guilt out of our mind, if we can get the shame out of our mind, if we can get the worry out of our mind, if we can get the busyness out of our mind, then all of a sudden we're going to have ideas which are seeds. And the seed of an idea gets planted firmly in your mind when you believe in yourself and you believe in your potential.
If you have life, you have purpose. If you have life, one drop of life. One. That is enough. One atom is as purposeful as our planet. What is in one is in the whole. It can't be otherwise. It cannot.
If you're rested, if your mind is in peace, and if you're full of love and compassion, if you come from being and then feeling, and then self-reflection, then things will synchronistically fall into place. That's how nature functions. Like the seed. In every seed is the promise of thousands of forests. This is your karmic seed. Harbam means that you have unique gifts. Focus on the gifts. Don't focus on the weaknesses, because there are other people who will complement your weaknesses, and you will complement theirs. You recognize the gift when you're expressing yourself in that unique way, giving out your gifts, and you lose track of time.CHAPTER 2
I don't believe in coincidence. I know there is a divine order to the magnificent mystery of our lives.
One of my greatest joys is watching someone experience an aha moment.
I delight in seeing that person's eyes light up with the spark of understanding. Especially when that recognition might change the trajectory of his or her life.
My hope at the start of every conversation is to expand hearts and to create an open space for learning. This is because I have always known that teaching is my true calling. It is the taproot from which all of my other skills and talents grow.
I felt this even when I was a little girl playing school in my grandmother's yard, trying to get my cousins Willie Mack and Lonnie to spell the Bible names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego correctly. Any chance I got to play teacher, I took.
Author James Hillman calls this the "oak within the acorn." We were created as individual acorns, in need of nourishment and proper conditions to help us grow into mighty oak trees.
I firmly believe it is no coincidence that I ended up sharing wisdom with millions in what became the world's largest classroom: The Oprah Winfrey Show. It wasn't kismet, serendipity, or even plain old luck. I don't believe in luck. For me, luck really means preparation meeting the moment of opportunity. I was born to teach. My only job was to listen, trust, and obey the call. The same is true for you.
In the following pages, you will read the stories of others who tapped into their unique essence, took a leap of faith, and now have a clear understanding of who they are and why they are here. Like me, they have come to know that there is no moving up and out in the world unless you are fully acquainted with the person you are meant to be.
What an unbelievable world we would live in if everyone were doing exactly what they were created to do.
A few years ago, I was talking about this very idea with Amy, my chief of staff. Amy's job is to keep all of the trains in my life on track, while at the same time juggling a wide assortment of daily curveballs thrown our way. It involves a whirlwind of multitasking. As Amy and I talked about recognizing one's early unique gifts, she had her own aha. She told me that when she was young, all she wanted for her eighth birthday was a filing cabinet. She just loved the idea of labeling the files and managing paperwork. She also had a calendar before there were events to write in it, and printed rainbow business cards so that people knew she could organize their lives. Now Amy's job is to organize me, and it makes me smile to see her delight when she's checking off a list. She followed her calling all the way to my office in Hollywood.
Of course, your purpose doesn't have to be tied to your career. I have many friends who told me they knew they were meant to have children before they even understood what it was to conceive. I've always believed that accepting the call to be a mother is the choice to become the ultimate spiritual teacher. Because mothers live in service and sacrifice to their children.
Whatever your calling, it's already rooted within you, and those roots can be trampled or tugged at but never removed. They grow stronger only when tended, nurtured — and, most important, shared with others.
My deepest desire is for people to get still enough to identify what makes them unique and connect to hope, possibility, and fulfillment in all areas of their life.
As author and spiritual trailblazer Gary Zukav so brilliantly taught me, when you align your personality with your purpose, no one can touch you.
NATE BERKUS: I was the kid that cared so much about the things around me, cared so much about the way things looked, and more importantly the way things felt, that I was tortured by sharing a bedroom with my younger brother. For me it was my space, and my mother knew that. I don't think she knew that I would end up working in design. I don't think she knew that I would end up being on your show. I don't think that anyone predicts or dreams for that. But what she did know was that her son was the kind of person that had to control the way a space felt and the way a space looked. I would get great pleasure out of not just the privacy — that wasn't the point. It was the selection. It was the process. It was watching a space that was raw concrete walls in a basement be transformed into a space where I could live out my daily life.
OPRAH: Because the space around you reflects your inner spiritual space.
NATE: And I think it's universal. I think no matter who we are or what we have or we don't have, everybody wants to live better.
OPRAH: So, you weren't a great student.
BRIAN GRAZER: No.
OPRAH: And your mother was really upset with you because you were failing the third grade. Which is reason to be concerned.
BRIAN: Yes. I was totally failing the third grade.
OPRAH: But your grandmother wasn't worried.
BRIAN: My grandmother wasn't worried. She liked all the questions I asked. And would always give me an answer. And she'd always say, "Brian, you're going to be special. You're going to use this curiosity. You're going to be a special kid."
And I was often looking at my report card while she's saying, "You're going to be special." My report card said all F's and D's. And I'm thinking, What does she know? What's going on here? I'm getting all F's and she's telling me I'm going to be special. But she just had this sustained belief in me and validated me for asking questions and for my curiosity.
I used this curiosity to meet new people in subjects that I would have never learned anything about. And by meeting these new people, it's given life to movies and television shows that I've done. It's helped me in my personal life with my children. It's been a powerful force in my life.
My parents both worked really hard. I have never known either of my parents to have just one job. They always had many jobs at once. And they worked so that my sister and I could have the things we wanted. I grew up aware of that. But I also grew up in a house where they were not around for the nine-to-five. We all ate dinner sort of at our own speed. I ate dinner when I got home. Sort of every person for himself.
They were there for the important stuff. They never missed a play. They were very present. But they weren't around. And so I had this enormously rich, imaginative life as my social media followers will see because there are hours of VHS videos and movies on there that I made growing up.
It was very clear to me that I saw things that other people didn't see. And I saw things that weren't valued, understood, or paid attention to. And that's why I became a comedian. Because I noticed the little spaces between the things that everybody else paid attention to. I paid attention to the stuff in between.
OPRAH: When did you know that comedy was the way out for you?
TRACY MORGAN: My dad was funny. He was Richard Pryor funny. He was so funny, I didn't really stay around my friends. I hung out with my dad and his friends. Because the conversations between his friends and him were more stimulating. I couldn't learn from my friends. They knew what I knew. But I could learn from my father and his friends. I remember when he came to the projects, everybody came out because Jimmy's here. And I remember him sitting me on his lap at four. He'd say to me, "Say, 'Your mother is ...'" this and that. And I'd repeat back, "Your mother ..." And everybody started laughing. And I liked that. And that's how far back it went. It was my dad.
Sister JOAN CHITTISTER
OPRAH: I've never quite met anybody who knew at three years old, standing looking in a casket, that being a nun was their calling. Can you tell me how you knew that?
SISTER JOAN CHITTISTER: My father had died. He was twenty-three. My mother was a twenty-one-year-old widow with this little baby. Two and a half or so. And she dressed me to take me to the funeral parlor. Her brothers and sisters said, "You cannot take that child to a funeral parlor." But my mother said, "Her father died. She has to grieve like we do. She's going."
So she's holding me in front of the casket. I've got my little hands around her head. I can feel the tears. Her face is wet. I know something terrible has happened, but more so, I'm looking over her shoulder at the end of the casket. I say, "Mama, what are those two things? What are those things? There, at the end." And my mother hugs me a little and she says, "Honey, those are the sisters. They are special friends of Daddy's and special friends of God's. They taught your daddy in high school. And they're going to stay here tonight. And when God comes for Daddy's soul, they're going to say, 'This is Joan's daddy, and he's very good. Take him straight to God.'"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Path Made Clear"
Copyright © 2019 Oprah Winfrey.
Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. THE SEEDS,
2. THE ROOTS,
3. THE WHISPERS,
4. THE CLOUDS,
5. THE MAP,
6. THE ROAD,
7. THE CLIMB,
8. THE GIVE,
9. THE REWARD,
Credits and Acknowledgments,
About the Author,