Career Advice from Oprah
Advice for Talent & Job Seekers

The Value of Being Skilled: Career Advice from Oprah

Just how valuable is your skill to your career?

Oprah recently presented the students at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism with quite an unforgettable speech at their commencement ceremony.

Although she started off by highlighting the world’s many troubles, she then goes on to brighten the atmosphere by stating that the solution was simple and lies within “each and every one of [the students].”

While this assertion served to lift the spirits of everyone present, it was not the focus of her speech. Oprah reveals the vital centerpiece of her presentation with a few words of wisdom: re-learning old lessons may often prove to be more beneficial than glancing over new ones. With so many familiar yet crucial tasks in our everyday lives (such as remembering to recycle or to pay bills on time), it is easy to see the truth in Oprah’s words. Applying the same logic to jobs, Oprah explains that with an unfulfilling job, her best advice is to –

“Become so skilled, so vigilant, so flat-out fantastic at what you do that your talent cannot be dismissed.”

Although having a good work ethic has long been preached by teachers, parents, and leaders throughout our lives, it is one lesson that is absolutely paramount in achieving success. Even if being reliable, driven, and focused does not relieve the boredom and dissatisfaction found within a specific job, these qualities will serve for your benefit in the long run. Achieving the highest degree of dedication, passion, and motivation in any situation is within your control in order to obtain the position, recognition, or promotion you desire.

But the most relevant and prominent advice Oprah gave in our speech is something we can’t reiterate enough.

“Your job is not who you are. It’s just what you are doing on the way to who you will become…Stop comparing yourself to other people…when all that you have been taught begins to fade into the fabric of your life, I hope what remains is your ability to analyze, to make distinctions, to be creative and to wonder down that road less traveled, whenever you have the opportunity, and I hope that when you go, you go all in,” – Oprah said.

Although this is not a revelation, it’s something that should constantly be motivating you to work towards something bigger and better. Becoming your best self in your career and becoming what she considers “unforgettable” will be the ultimate measure of your success. And if that’s something Oprah considers to work, then it must work!

And just to be clear, this skill must be developed in something you actually care for. Something that you are truly curious about and something that you can utilize your own personal gifts and personality attributes. And if you are working towards that skill development and it’s something highly interesting to you, then that will allow you to control your own destiny and achieve your dream career.

To hear more on Oprah’s career advice, watch the entire Commencement speech here: Oprah Winfrey | USC Annenberg Commencement 2018 Keynote Speaker.

And if you are looking for more career resources and tips on professional development, click here to read more of our blog: Career Blog.