"Belief in oneself and knowing who you are—that's the foundation of everything great," Jay-Z says. Standing firmly in that foundation saves you from confusion and allows you to sing your own song into the world. You may not become a Jay-Z or a Diane Sawyer, but, as Oprah says, you'll become the best you that you can be. Here, master lessons and opportunities for you to respond in your private notebook.
Anybody pretending to be anything other than who you really are—you will never, ever reach your personal potential.
Although Oprah began her career imitating Barbara Walters and she admired talk show icon Phil Donahue, deciding to be herself—her best self—made her more successful than she ever imagined. Do you ever pretend to be someone you're not? What would happen if you stepped away from that image and were yourself instead?
Your intention rules your life and determines the outcome.
When something doesn't turn out the way you had hoped, can you examine your intention from the beginning? Were the choices you made always in alignment with your initial goal? Despite what you had planned, does how you feel about the outcome indicate that you might have wanted something different?
What I know is you've got to take responsibility for the space you hold here.
Do you take responsibility for your thoughts and actions, both good and bad, equally? Do you give more weight to the negative thoughts? How could making a shift—so that not only your actions but also your thoughts came from a more positive place—change the balance?
What is real, what is lasting, is who you are and what you were meant to bring. What is the gift you were meant to give? And nobody can take that away from you.
What is the gift you were meant to give?
You don't really have to ask anybody. The truth is, right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable, but it will satisfy your soul.
Maya Angelou's answer to the question How do you know what is right? is simply: The truth is right. For her, it's a compass—"you don't have to ask anybody." Is this advice helpful to you? Is there anything going on in your life now where you could use it?
Words are things, I'm convinced. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes, and finally, into you.
The words we choose to use leave impressions on the people around us. What do your words say about you and how you want to be perceived in the world? Do they always mirror your intention?
I am a teacher. I teach all the time, as you do and as all of you do—whether we know it or not, whether we take responsibility for it or not.
How are you a teacher? When Maya Angelou talks about holding nothing back, she's suggesting that revealing herself, her unique point of view, will spark something in others. Can you think of times when you "hold back?" What, or who, are you protecting? What would happen if you told your truth?
The worst thing to be is successful as someone else.
It's pretty easy for most of us to lose ourselves in the presence of a stronger personality. Can you think of a time when you gave up your vision for another's out of insecurity? How about a time when you stood firm? What does it take to stay loyal to yourself?
My goal is to find the truth … and not be afraid of it.
What's the power in "staying true to yourself?" What might scare you about your own truth?
Nothing, nothing was ever worth waking up and saying, 'I'm not the person I wanted to be.'
How does being at home in yourself feel? Are there people in your life who make you feel comfortable being yourself? How does it feel when you've lost that good sense of yourself?
Imagine you're on a road trip in a car containing two things: a sophisticated global positioning system and a friend who keeps shouting the wrong directions. That's a good analogy for the way most of us choose our behavior. We're born primed and loaded with mechanisms that point us toward our best lives. But we're also inevitably inundated by misguided commentary from the world, the people around us and our fearful, chattering minds. Learning to screen out the bad advice and listen to our inner GPS is a daily moment-to-moment practice that can keep us out of danger and headed where we really want to go.
How to Hear Your GPS
Here's the key thing to remember about your failsafe navigational system: It isn't verbal. Many of us try to reason or analyze our way to good decisions. It almost never works. Life is simply too complex. The verbal part of your brain is capable of processing up to 40 bits of data per second—pretty impressive. But the nonverbal part is vastly superior, processing 11 million bits of data per second. That's the navigational system you can trust.
The most important thing you'll ever do is notice when your feelings—physical and emotional—disagree with the instructions coming from your verbal mind.
Your internal GPS sends signals not through thoughts, but through physical and emotional sensations. If you begin to stray from your optimal path, your body begins losing strength and vibrancy. You feel weary, even exhausted. Keep heading in the wrong direction, and you'll get downright sick. Your emotions will be sending their own signals, first subtle, then stronger: Anxiety, irritability or gloominess slowly escalate into panic, rage and despair.
All these feelings are your inner GPS telling you, "You're getting colder! You're getting colder!" If you change course, heading toward whatever may be closer to your right life, the signals ease, then give way to relaxation, higher energy, peace, gratitude and happiness: "You're getting warmer! You're getting warmer!"
Don't Sell Out
Given the clarity of these signals, why would we ever ignore them? Blame that chattering passenger riding along with us—the highly social verbal brain. This being is designed to imitate and obey others, not to steer you toward authentic happiness. It endlessly repeats what you've learned from others: your mother telling you to work harder, a friend sneering at your taste in music, a TV ad implying you're too fat. The most important thing you'll ever do is notice when your feelings—physical and emotional—disagree with the instructions coming from your verbal mind.
Imagine yourself back in that car, "listening" only to the feel of the GPS, not the voice of your passenger. Focus fully on the sense of getting "warmer" or "colder," and turn toward warmth. Rest when you need to, even if mom says keep working. Listen to your favorite song, whatever your friend thinks. Know you're the perfect size for you in this moment. Keep steering by your GPS, and the critical voice will slowly fade. Eventually, you'll be headed straight home, hearing only the signals that help you trust yourself.
Did this article trigger something in you? Is there a quote you want to save? You can use this space to save your aha! moments.