You may not have realized it, but The Oprah Winfrey Show premiered 29 years ago on Sept. 8, 1986. One of television's longest lasting programs, the show remained on the air for an amazing 25 years until its final episode on May 25, 2011.
Many people forget that The Oprah Winfrey Show came of age in the era of afternoon talk shows that weren't always so uplifting. While some of those shows veered off into the realm of the absurd, Oprah's show matured, finding a place away from shock TV topics and on-air brawls, and created a kind of television refuge where people could find comfort, understanding and a way to see life through the eyes of others. There was something sincere and genuine about her demeanor: something that allowed people to express their deepest fears and most painful secrets in a space that was at once warm and safe.
The final episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show marked a quarter century of television longevity and 4,561 episodes. It is hard to imagine anything in the internet era surviving a quarter century and, given the exponential growth of technology, it seems unlikely that anything we encounter online will ever remain as unchanged as The Oprah Winfrey Show.
What are unchanging, however, are the ideals that Oprah expressed on her show. Those ideals were never more poignantly expressed than they were in that final episode. Here, then, are some lessons from that final episode, as expressed by Oprah herself, in the hope that they may find you when you need them most and that you may share them with those who might need them as well.
1. We are each other's best teachers.
"Something in me connected with each of you in a way that allowed me to see myself in you and you in me. I became your surrogate — to ask the questions, deliver the answers, learn, grow, expand my thinking, challenge my beliefs and the way I looked at the world. I listened and grew, and I know you grew along with me."
2. Each of us has to find our own calling.
"Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it. Every time we have seen a person on this stage who is a success in their life, they spoke of the job and they spoke of the juice that they receive from doing what they knew they were meant to be doing."
3. Your calling will let you "live from the heart of yourself."
"It lights you up and it lets you know that you are exactly where you're supposed to be, doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing. And that is what I want for all of you and hope that you will take from this show. To live from the heart of yourself. You have to make a living; I understand that. But you also have to know what sparks the light in you so that you, in your own way, can illuminate the world."
4. We all have a platform from which we may influence the world.
"Maybe it's 20 people, maybe it's 30 people, 40 people, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your classmates, your classroom, your co-workers. Wherever you are, that is your platform, your stage, your circle of influence. That is your talk show and that is where your power lies. In every way, in every day, you are showing people exactly who you are. You're letting your life speak for you. And when you do that, you will receive in direct proportion to how you give in whatever platform you have. "
"My great wish for all of you who have allowed me to honor my calling through this show is that you carry whatever you're supposed to be doing, carry that forward and don't waste any more time. Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world."
5. You are responsible for your life.
"Nobody but you is responsible for your life. It doesn't matter what your mama did; it doesn't matter what your daddy didn't do. You are responsible for your life. ... You are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself and you're responsible for the energy that you bring to others."
6. We all share a common thread in the suffering and pain in our lives.
"The show has taught me there is a common thread that runs through all of our pain and all of our suffering, and that is unworthiness. Not feeling worthy enough to own the life you were created for."
7. You are enough.
"... we often block our own blessings because we don't feel inherently good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or worthy enough. ... The show has taught me you're worthy because you are born and because you are here. Your being here, your being alive makes worthiness your birthright. You alone are enough."
8. Everyone needs validation.
"I've talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show and all 30,000 had one thing in common: They all wanted validation. ... They want to know: 'Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?' "
"Try it with your children, your husband, your wife, your boss, your friends. Validate them. 'I see you. I hear you. And what you say matters to me.' "
9. We can all be someone's safe place to fall.
"And what I hope is that you all will be that safe harbor for somebody else — their safe place to fall. Do for them what you all are telling me the show has done for you. Connect. Embrace. Liberate. Love somebody. Just one person. And then spread that to two. And as many as you can. You'll see the difference it makes."
10. Endings bring beginnings.
"For everything there is a season, we know, and our time together on this platform is coming to a close. In a few moments when the final credits roll, I see it not as an ending, but as an extraordinary beginning. One chapter closed. The next chapter beginning for all of us."
She ended her show with humility and gratitude, leaving these lessons for us to put into action, treating every day as a new beginning.