Oprah Winfrey’s recent Golden Globes speech has got people talking.
She was at her best when she took to the stage that Sunday night to accept the Cecil B. DeMille Humanitarian Award, illustrating to the rest of us how to leave your mark by following that age old journalism command: show don’t tell.
“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have,” she said. Then she proceeded to show us how.
Not but talking about her experiences, but by describing the experiences of others in a way that we could identify, or at the very least empathize, and in doing so make us feel part of a larger movement for change.
All of us sitting there on our couches, in front of laptops and, yes perhaps on linoleum floors identifying with what she had to tell us.
That’s Oprah’s truth: a steel resolve to convene a community built around empathy, compassion and love that is powerful and strong enough to overcome opposing forces of cynicism, hate and fear.
Her talent is to use language and emotion to connect with millions of strangers and connect us to each other.
She has the ability that all great artists, teachers, coaches and mentors have: to listen with deep curiosity in order to explore where a story – or person – wants to go. And to follow where it leads.
It is no small thing to follow. Often when someone starts to tell us their truth we are eager to jump in, to make suggestions, to prescribe the solution. Or, if their truth is different from our own, if it challenges it or finds fault, we refute their words. Belittle their opinion. Defend our position.
So yes, please be inspired by Oprah. Admire her oratorical skill. Follow where her story take you, down those online rabbit holes to learn more about Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks, about Sidney Poitier and Quincy Jones, about #MeToo and Times Up.
But if I may be so bold, I’d like to make a small addendum to Oprah’s message: the most powerful thing any of us can do is speak our truth – and listen with an open mind and heart when others do the same.