As a brilliant businesswoman and inspirational celebrity, Oprah Winfrey can seem like someone who has it all together. But even Oprah has had her moments of doubt and confusion.

In a heartfelt and fascinating interview with LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner recently, Winfrey opened up about some of them--and about the author who helped her find her way. In the course of the 15-minute conversation, Winfrey talks about her early career and an episode of her show that went awry. She had invited on members of the Ku Klux Klan to discover the roots of their hatred, but things didn't go as planned and the panelists ended up hijacking the show to promote their agenda of hate.

It was an incident that caused Winfrey to really reflect about her show, her career, even her life--and their greater purpose. To help her do that, she turned to best-selling author and spiritual teacher Gary Zukav, she tells Weiner.

What's your intention?

"The number one principle that rules my life is intention, and I probably discovered that around 1989, after reading Gary Zukav's book and then bringing him on the show," Winfrey says. Her bottom-line intention, she reveals, is to be a force for good in the world.

But that wasn't so clear back when she was interviewing those KKK members. At the time, she explains, she was thinking less about what sort of energy each segment she taped was putting out into the universe. She claims that Zukav and the principle of intention fundamentally changed how she ran her budding empire.

"After reading Gary's books, I literally had a big meeting with all my producers, and I said, 'We're now going to be an intentional television show,'" Winfrey explains. "And they were like, 'What is that?' 'We're only going to do shows that come from a motivation that we're going to show people the best in themselves. Sometimes you have to show people the worst in themselves in order to show them the best in themselves, but the idea behind it--the vision--is that we're going to be a force for good ... that's the bottom-line intention.'" 

It's a powerful statement of her vision for her life and her work. It's also a reminder of how energizing being so clear on your purpose--knowing absolutely the reason you get up and do the things you do each day--can be. Your intention could be wildly different from Winfrey's, but her experience suggests that spending the time to reflect on your fundamental goals (Winfrey mentions that journaling helped her clarify her thoughts) can yield immense benefits. Perhaps Zukav's books could help you figure out your intention too.

What's your bottom-line intention?

Published on: Nov 17, 2015
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