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18 Oprah Quotes to Motivate and Inspire

Oprah Winfrey is, for many people, a beacon of inspiration and hope; she’s a media mogul with a storied past and a spirit of generosity and wonder that is nothing short of infectious. Winfrey’s drive and strength allowed her to overcome an incredibly difficult youth, and her characteristic empathy and message of empowerment have made her a role model throughout her remarkable rise to fame.

Growing up, Winfrey had an unstable home life, enduring abuse from a young age and living in extreme poverty for much of her childhood. She was raised by her grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee, who taught her how to read and write, skills that would help catapult her toward success. Winfrey has recalled setting her sights high from an early age: “I remember a specific moment, watching my grandmother hang the clothes on the line, and her saying to me, ‘You are going to have to learn to do this,’ and me being in that space of awareness and knowing that my life would not be the same as my grandmother’s life.”

Since then, Winfrey has worked hard to create a life for herself that might have been unimaginable to her grandmother: She hosted the hit daytime talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show for 25 years; launched her own production company, Harpo Productions, in 1986; founded a school for underprivileged girls in South Africa in 2007; created a whole new television channel, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, in 2011; and she has five published books to her name. She was for a time the only Black billionaire, and has donated millions of dollars to charitable causes around the globe.

Through it all, Winfrey has managed to stay focused on the humanity driving her efforts, and draws strength from the challenges she’s had to overcome. Here, we highlight 18 motivational quotes from Lady O herself, in hopes that they will inspire you to similarly tackle life’s obstacles with grace, wit, and humor.

Know what sparks the light in you. Then use that light to illuminate the world.

No gesture is too small when done with gratitude.

The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but on significance — and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.

Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.

Follow your passion. It will lead you to your purpose.

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.

Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.

Often we don’t even realize who we’re meant to be because we’re so busy trying to live out someone else’s ideas. But other people and their opinions hold no power in defining our destiny.

Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.

What material success does is provide you with the ability to concentrate on other things that really matter. And that is being able to make a difference, not only in your own life but in other people's lives.

Every time you state what you want or believe, you're the first to hear it. It's a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don't put a ceiling on yourself.

Wherever you are in your journey, I hope you, too, will keep encountering challenges. It is a blessing to be able to survive them, to be able to keep putting one foot in front of the other — to be in a position to make the climb up life’s mountain, knowing that the summit still lies ahead. And every experience is a valuable teacher.

The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.

Whatever our dreams, ideas, or projects, we plant a seed, nurture it — and then reap the fruits of our labors.

Your calling isn’t something that somebody can tell you about. It’s what you feel. It is the thing that gives you juice. The thing that you are supposed to do. And nobody can tell you what that is. You know it inside yourself.

Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.

The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you're willing to work.

Your life is big. Keep reaching.

Photo credit: Afro Newspaper/Gado / Contributor/ via Getty Images

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About the Author
Joyce Chen
Joyce Chen is a writer, editor, and community builder based in Seattle, Washington.
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