From the editor

| November 8, 2011 | 0 Comments

It’s been a year of tumult, you will agree. Governments have toppled, leaders have been deposed and killed, the common man has risen up to protest soaring costs and fading prospects, and Mother Nature has reminded us, more than once, of her ultimate power.

In and amongst all this, a certain television superstar dubbed “The Queen of Talk” decided 25 years of hosting the most popular talk-show on the planet was enough. Her decision ranked right up there with other top news-making events of 2011.

For most of those 25 years, the world has been sharply divided between those who love Oprah, and those who cannot stand her and this was never truer than when the commentators closed in on her final show. The New York Post’s Michael Starr was savage, observing that, “Coming out to a standing ovation from her rapturous, squealing studio audience, Oprah held court on stage, alone, for the show’s full hour, striding back and forth and spewing fluffy, New Age-y aphorisms offset by occasional clips from past episodes.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman was slightly more sanguine. “The hour perfectly embodied how complex it is to analyse or critique the woman behind the message,” he wrote on his blog. “On the one hand, it’s hard to argue how deeply Oprah has touched her massive audience and how much good the self-help emphasis has done for so many people, celebrities included. On the other hand, for those outside the sphere of influence that Oprah holds over her worshippers (they are too numerous to be a cult), it’s impossible to miss some of the God-complex patina that she wears so proudly.”

I side with The Washington Post’s Sally Quinn when she says that Oprah “managed to touch something in a lot of people and changed countless lives by giving her audience a spiritual message that they could apply to their own lives. Her message was inclusive and pluralistic rather than exclusive.”

I’ll go one better than Quinn by suggesting that our planet is in such a fix that we need all the wisdom we can get. That’s why we include as much leadership debate in this magazine as possible. So what if Oprah’s show has been dubbed the 21st century’s ‘super-confessional’? I think that says as much about the viewer as the host, as much about the medium as the message.

Here’s the leadership – or personal growth – advice I took away from that final Oprah show. There’s a common connection uniting all of us on the planet. We all seek enlightenment. Moreover, we are all capable of offering meaningful guidance – leadership – to each other, but that’s not going to happen until we “start living from the heart of ourselves”. Once we align our calling, our passion, to our professions – and which teacher amongst us doesn’t get that one – we’ll stop wasting precious time fretting about what we cannot change, and start “using our light to serve the world”. We’ll use our platforms, our circles of influence for the greater good.

I’m also 100% with Winfrey when she speaks about Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion; that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Some call this Karma. No one leader among us is perfect – and what I love about Oprah is her willingness to acknowledge this and even to poke fun at herself – we all have bad days, and all of us have made some questionable decisions. But, if we can live according to the maxim “Do as you would be done by” (remember Charles Kinsgley’s The Water Babies?), how much more mindful, peaceful and successful we would all be.

Oprah was also spot-on when it comes to those who bully, and plenty of so-called leaders do. We all seek validation, but those of us who mete out meanness are masking a deeper sense of unworthiness. “Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it,” was Miller Williams’ advice to leaders who are ‘works-inprogress’. “What appears as bad manners, ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.”

Lastly, said Oprah, life is always speaking to you. It starts with a whisper, and may end up bashing you ‘upside the head’ before you get the message; to change, to forgive, to shrug off, to learn, to ask why, when or how. Start listening. Sounds like excellent advice to me.

Category: Summer 2011

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