Oprah Winfrey believes wanting to achieve your dreams is not enough, you must instead map out your path to success by sharing your intentions. Here, in an extract from her book The Path Made Clear, she reveals how to make things happen for you.
How many times have you witnessed someone get close to achieving a goal, only to see it all suddenly fall apart? Or, he or she does reach the top of the mountain, but can’t hold on. Maybe you too have struggled with near-misses and not-quite-realised dreams, yet are unable to pinpoint why. Self-sabotage can be a devastating cycle.
I believe deeply in what Paulo Coelho so famously wrote in his seminal book, The Alchemist: 'When you want something, all the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.'
Time and again, I have seen how the Universe rises up to meet the vision that lives inside us. But just as often, I’ve seen dreams crushed.
The variable between winning the race and faltering at the finish line lies with one of the guiding forces in my life: intention.
Before you embark on any quest, you must first articulate your vision. Set your course. It doesn’t have to be a public or formal declaration, but it does need to be clear. Particularly in today’s climate, where there is a palpable craving for meaning and authenticity, people can feel what’s real and what’s not. So if you want support for your idea, stand in what you hold sacred. Those who sense your truth will rise up. And, most importantly, you must believe with your whole heart that you are capable of achieving your goal. If not, your path becomes murky and the goal stays out of reach.
For me, the journey to open The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls was one of the most challenging and ultimately rewarding I’ve ever experienced. This was something I felt I had been growing towards my entire life. I recognised myself in the face of each and every girl yearning to overcome the trauma of poverty and all that it encompassed. These strong, talented future leaders could see their way forward but needed an environment in which to thrive.
That’s why, despite confronting formidable obstacles along the way, breaking ground on the fifty-two acre campus just outside Johannesburg, South Africa, was an important full circle for me. It’s taken an enormous emotional and financial investment, but ever since the year 2002, when I shared with Nelson Mandela my hope of creating access to education for those who demonstrated promise and potential, my commitment to the school has never wavered.
So you can imagine my surprise when I was asked during an interview about critics who said the school would not last.
'They said that?' I asked the reporter.
'Yes, in the beginning,' she replied.
My response to her was this: People have no idea of my tenacity. Once I commit to something and I have a full-hearted desire to see it work, I can’t imagine what it would take to make me quit.
I held a vision for what this school could be a place to build leaders and inspire greatness.
I hand-picked every sock, every shoe, every door, every book— to honour the girls who would attend. The purity of that intention was aligned from my heart to my head. I had no ulterior motive. This was about bringing the power of choice to the first generation of apartheid-free women in South Africa.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t ask myself if it was worth it during some of the most difficult times. I certainly did wonder. But the answer that always came back was, Yes, this is one thousand percent worth it.
I was convinced we could raise these girls to know for themselves what I’ve told them over and over again: You are not your circumstances. You are your possibilities.
In my book, it is my hope that you will gain a greater understanding of how discovering your purpose begins with committing to your course. Whether you want to fulfil a long-held dream, find greater success in the career you’ve chosen, give more of yourself to others, or repair a broken relationship, you must first ask yourself why — what is the real intention? And then, how will you execute the action?
The tenth anniversary of The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls was in 2017. To date, nearly 400 graduates have gone on to attend universities around the world.
I set out to create a dream school where the brightest yet most vulnerable could find their voices and know for themselves that there is no bar. Their only limits are the ones they set. From day one I told them, Don’t just break the ceiling, reach for what’s beyond.
As for the interview with the reporter who asked about naysayers? I went on to tell her, Don’t bet against me. You cannot defeat someone who knows who they truly are. I know who I am and why I am doing this, so I would not bet against me.
The moment you know with certainty that your intention is fully aligned with what you believe, all bets are off.
You’ve already won!
Extracted from The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life's Purposes by Oprah Winfrey
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