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The Billionaire Who Grew Up in Extreme Poverty – 5 Lessons from Oprah’s Story

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

Against all odds, Oprah became one of the most powerful people in the world. Take a look at her inspiring journey and what you can learn from it.

We all have a vision of what our ideal life would look like. The question is, do you dare to dream big enough?

You should.

Big dreams let you break free of constraints that life may have put on you and push you towards your ultimate goal. They motivate you to push through hardship and seek opportunities wherever you can find them.

Even when it seems like everything is against you, you’ll have the strength to change your life for the better.

If you need proof, look no further than Oprah Winfrey. At one point, her only possession was big dreams for the future. Life had put just about every possible obstacle in front of her.

And yet, she rose above them all to live out her dreams.

If you’re in need of inspiration, her story proves that anything is possible.

Who’s Oprah Winfrey?

Oprah was born on a tiny farm in rural Mississippi in 1954. From the moment she entered this world, she faced many disadvantages. From poverty to being a black woman in the 1960s American South, life was already hard.

As if that wasn’t enough, her unmarried parents separated and she had to spend her early childhood with her grandmother. Even at a young age, she wanted to be a show woman. She would play-act in front of the farm animals and entertain herself this way.

At the age of six, she went to stay with her mother and half-brothers in Milwaukee. It was an extremely poor and crime-ridden neighbourhood, which was why she went to live with her father when she was 12.

For a brief moment, she felt happy and safe in her father’s home in Tennessee. This is when she first started to give speeches at churches and social gatherings. Her father supported her along the way and provided her with everything she needed.

However, her mother got her to come back and live in the Milwaukee ghetto. Oprah’s life as a young teenager in Milwaukee came with many negative effects, including repeated sexual abuse from different men.

Luckily, Oprah escaped this traumatic life and went back to live with her father again.

From this point on, things started to look up. While she was still in college, Oprah became the first black woman news co-anchor.

A few years later, Oprah moved to Chicago to become an anchor at A.M Chicago. It was a low-rated show, which is why Oprah suggested many changes. A few months later, her changes took effects and the show surpassed its competitors.

Eventually, the show got renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1985. This would be a massive success even if you didn’t take into account everything that Oprah had to go through.

But it was just the beginning of her rise to the top.

Oprah started her own production company in 1986 in order to have full control over the topics covered. It may not have been smooth sailing all the way, but Oprah achieved one major goal after another.

From running the most powerful book club in America to reaching millions of homes, Oprah became one of the most influential people in the world. Today, Oprah’s name is familiar all over the world.

Oprah rose from an isolated farm to become one of the highest-paid entertainers on the planet. She’s changed the lives of millions, both through her show and her outstanding charitable efforts.

Everyone can learn something from Oprah’s story. Here are some of her most valuable lessons:

1. Embrace Failure and Take Responsibility

Oprah never allows outside circumstances to dictate her life. She took not only control but also responsibility for everything that happened. Even after escaping her rough childhood and tasting success, many obstacles still stood in her way.

A great example is the way she turned around her show and station’s poor ratings. She didn’t try to manipulate people with fancy PR tactics. Instead, she worked hard to make positive changes. And all that hard work had paid off in spades, wouldn’t you think?

Whatever you do, there will always be mistakes and failures. It’s what you do about them that counts. Here’s the heart of the matter. Don’t fear failure but use it as an opportunity to do better and overcome.

2. Connect with People Outside of Your Community

Throughout her adult life, Oprah has been all about bridging communities and uniting people.

Paul C. Brunson, who worked with her, had the following to say:

‘Oprah spends a disproportionate amount of her time gathering information from communities of people outside of her core (different age groups, social classes, ethnicities, education levels, careers, etc.) and then she shares that information within her community.’

This is why she has had such a big influence. She breaks boundaries and connects people of all backgrounds.

To succeed, you’ll want to develop this trait as well. Keep an open mind and learn how to unite different people under your message. If you can make this happen, there’ll be no limits to your influence.

3. Seek Help for Your Weaknesses

Oprah’s grand success makes it look like she could do it all. But she’d be the first to tell people that she definitely has weaknesses.

However, Oprah has an incredible ability to form dream teams of people. She knows when to ask for help and who to turn to. As a result, she handles whatever she’s not good at in the best possible way.

Remember that you can’t and shouldn’t try to do it all. Rather than constantly thinking that you have to work on your weaknesses, you should play to your strengths and delegate everything else. It’s always better to rely on other experts to make up for your shortcomings. It’s going to save you the time and energy that you can devote to working on what makes you unique.

4. Don’t Stop Taking Risks

Oprah may have been set for life, but she doesn’t get complacent or stay in one place. She’s out there looking to expand her empire all of the time.

To do this, she continues to take risks. It’s just like Oprah to boldly accept challenges. You’re never going to come out ahead every time, but for Oprah, some of her biggest bets have paid off.

If you want to achieve big things, you can’t limit yourself by playing it safe. You need to step out of your comfort zone and chase after new opportunities.

This doesn’t mean that you should gamble and take spectacular risks. The point of taking risk is to ensure that you have a lot more to gain than lose. This is why you should always take calculated risks.

As they say, no risk no gain, so don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith every once in a while.

5. Practice Gratitude

You may think it’s easy for Oprah to say that we should be grateful for what we have. But don’t forget that she knows what it’s like to face the world with only your dream.

Oprah credits her practice of gratitude to giving her everything she’s ever wanted. For seemingly ever, she’s been keeping gratitude journals to remind herself of everything that she should be thankful for.

However, this doesn’t mean that she’s only grateful for the big things in life. In her own words:

‘Sometimes, I’m just waiting on somebody to hold the door and see if that makes the list. Some days you only have, ‘I’m still breathing.’ Because life gets in the way.’

Besides not staying in one place and always going for more, which we’ve established to be important, don’t forget to stop and be grateful for what you already have. This will change your view of life and show you that you have many reasons to be happy.

Anything Is Possible

Oprah’s story serves as an inspiration to everyone who’s just trying to go through life and make something of it. It shows that you can take control of your life and write your own story.

No matter what happens, embrace obstacles and use them as an opportunity to better yourself. Along the way, you’ll always be moving towards your biggest dreams until you turn them into reality.

If you need more motivation to achieve your goals, no matter how big, get in touch to book me for a speaking event.

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