This post is part 1 of 9 in the series Oprah’s 25 years of lessons learned.

On her final show, Oprah shared her greatest lessons and hopes for her viewers. In this series of posts, Paul high­lights ten lessons Oprah learned, along with his related and unre­lated thoughts and stories.

Every­body has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the busi­ness of doing it. Every time we have seen a person on this stage who is a success in their life… they spoke of the juice that they receive from doing what they knew they were meant to be doing.

[A calling] lights you up and it lets you know that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing — to live from the heart of your­self. You have to make a living; I under­stand that. But you also have to know what sparks the light in you so that you, in your own way, can illu­mi­nate the world.…

Each one of you has your own plat­form. Wher­ever you are, that is your plat­form, your stage, your circle of influ­ence. That is your talk show, and that is where your power lies. In every way, in every day, you are showing people exactly who you are. You’re letting your life speak for you. And when you do that, you will receive in direct propor­tion to how you give in what­ever plat­form you have.…

Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world.” — Oprah Winfrey, May 25, 2011

Read the complete Oprah Show finale tran­script →

Some days months I think this is all hooey.

The human quest to make meaning — espe­cially the need to under­stand why am I here, what’s my role, where do I belong — can be so consuming for me. Just for the sake of feeling safe, sound and secure.

It drives multi-indus­tries of life coaches (my hand is raised), ther­a­pists, spir­i­tual gurus, reli­gions, mentors, brand strate­gists (hand up), news commen­ta­tors, movie direc­tors, creative types (hand up) and billion­aire after­noon talk show hosts (wish my hand was up). I’m grateful that that human need to find meaning has been a provider for my life all these years.

I feel safe when I’m searching for my purpose. I feel safe when I’ve discov­ered my purpose. And I certainly feel safe when I’m living my purpose — espe­cially when life is chal­lenging.

When I think about finding my life purpose, my assump­tion is “once I find it I’ll never let it go, never loose it, always use it.” My life purpose will make every day a jump-out-of-bed, gee-what’s-in-store-on-this-exciting-morning expe­ri­ence. Every day until the grave.

I do wake up to on-purpose days, even months of on-purpose days. And then those days disap­pear; they may have been disap­pearing for months. When I notice the purpose-filled days are gone, it’s as if they vanished overnight.

Utter chaos then breaks out in my brain and stomach and I have no idea where I am. I feel lost, rudder­less. No creativity. No energy. No life­line. What the hell happened? Have I lost my way?

Or am I now in hiber­na­tion to prepare for what’s next? Inten­tional hiber­na­tion works for me and I’ve learned to plan that peri­od­i­cally for renewal.

What I’m writing about here is unin­ten­tional months of waiting for some “a-ha” moment to reveal a new life purpose, to answer “what’s next?” Living with ambi­guity is still uncom­fort­able, prob­ably will always be comfort-less for this guy who’s spent most of his life creating what I thought was the “safety” of a right-wrong, good-bad-so-be-perfect, all-or-nothing, black-white-no-complexity, keep-control world. Not taking any action creates even more ambi­guity.

As Oprah recom­mends, “Start embracing the life that is calling.” In the embrace, life has a chance to reveal, coax, re-ignite.

When the rhythms of nature, cycles of life, even days at the stock markets look like
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why do I expect that my life in total would look like this?
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