Life Advice from Oprah Winfrey to Harvard Graduates (or anyone, for that matter)

by | Posted June 15th, 2013


Each year, popular and well-known colleges and universities manage to get some kind of famous celebrity to give a commencement speech about life, what to do now with your future, and all that jazz that comes with graduating and stepping off into the great unknown. This year, Harvard’s commencement speech was given by Oprah Winfrey, where she gave the graduating class of 2013 “a powerful message about failure, purpose, and the meaning of life, with a side of essential political awareness about gun control, immigration, and media ethics.”

Brain Pickings posted the video of her speech, as well as transcribed several noteworthy highlights that Ms. Winfrey addressed. The main point was the “inevitability of failure” and the growth it allows us if we approach it with the right mindset.

“It doesn’t matter how far you might rise — at some point, you are bound to stumble. Because if you’re constantly doing what we do — raising the bar — if you’re constantly pushing yourself higher, higher, the law of averages predicts that you will, at some point, fall. And when you do, I want you to know this, remember this: There is no such thing as failure — failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

I think this is incredibly important to remember, especially in today’s day and age where perfection and wanting to be “perfect” is pressed into our minds at an early age (get good grades, go to college, get a good job, work hard, etc.) many people think if they don’t have a job immediately after graduating, they’re a failure or they did something wrong along the way. As long as we’re continually striving for something more and doing more, we can never fail, and that is what Ms. Oprah Winfrey is trying to tell us.

Be sure to read the rest of her speech or watch the video for more positive and motivating insights.