Have you ever wondered what Albert Einstein and Oprah Winfrey, might have in common? These 3 commonalities never occurred to me until recently.
Oprah Winfrey began her career as a television host, and became one of the most successfully syndicated talk show hosts in American history. Awarded handsomely for her work on the show, and for her work as a philanthropist, Oprah became one of the most sought after women of all time. She gained so much notoriety about how she and her guests shifted how we view the world, that when she ended her show in 2010 she started a network of her own called, OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network) in 2011.
And what did Albert Einstein do? He is quite possibly the most famous scientist who ever lived. He was a theoretical physicist, a mathematician, and widely known as a genius. He developed the theory of relativity and won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his work on the photoelectric effect. Einstein’s contributions amounted to a radical shift in how we view the world.
Outside of their notoriety and charisma you might not be aware of what these two leaders have in common. Before I share it with you, I want to tell you about a 30-yr-old man who exudes similar traits.
This well dressed young man walked through my door like a well-built muscle machine. He was well mannered and had an air of total confidence. My initial thought was that he looked like he just rolled off the cover of BEST LIFE magazine, looking all GQ and perfect.
He had just returned from an over seas tour of duty. He was working as a Reservist for the United States Air Force and was very happy to be home. Since he was wounded during the war in Iraq when he was full time, I somehow believed being a reservist meant he’d be safe so I was happy to see him home too.
We sat down to eat lunch together and talked about the things he learned and the great things he could anticipate in his future. While listening to him I began to think, “I’ve never seen more talent wrapped up in one body in my entire life; from great musical ability, to great leadership expanding from a unique and brilliant mind. Knowing this man his whole life, I’ve always believed he had greatness in him, I just never knew whether he believed it for himself.
I suppose some might say a mom will always look at her kids as though they’re the best thing since sliced bread, but when you really step back, when you hear it often from others, when you know you had very little to do with it because it comes naturally, you can really tell its in there alive and well.
So What Are The 3 Commonalities of Oprah, Einstein and My Son?
1. Trails and tribulations in their early years
Einstein felt alienated and struggled with rebellion against the rigid education he received. He also experienced speech difficulty which brought humiliation early on.
Oprah was raped at the age of 9 by a cousin and later by others in an ongoing cycle of abuse. She eventually became pregnant at age 14, and lost the child 2 weeks after delivery.
My son grew up without his father being present for much of his life, be it for reasons of career choice or simply not being emotionally present. Anger and rebellion got him expelled from school in first grade.
Oprah told People magazine she had a meltdown last summer because people were counting her out even after 25 years of great success. She said she knew that failure is a great teacher but that she truly didn’t want to fail. Her long time friend Stedman Graham told her that she needed to put in the work if she wanted it to turn around. With hard work and great support Oprah was able to do just that.
Einstein’s career was also a sequence of failures, from the rejection of his doctoral thesis in 1901, to his submission of ideas put forward by one of the great theoretical physicists of the end of the nineteenth century. Failing was as important to his learning as was succeeding.
My son hates to fail but he’s also learning that in order to be great at anything you must fail over and over again and work hard to turn things around.
3. Believing AS IF
Oprah knew she would never be a maid the way her grandmother was. She knew she would do something greater with her life, she just didn’t know what. She acted AS IF she was already living something bigger and greater for her life and never let go of that dream.
Someone asked Einstein if he was religious while at a dinner party one evening. He replied, “Yes, you can call it that. Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind the discernible laws and connections there remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. To that extent, I am, in fact religious.” (Excepts from Walter Isaacson’s Biography, submitted by Raymond Fontaine, Ph.D., April 2007) Einstein lived AS IF as well, in a little different way.
When my son was young, he would make off the cuff public public speeches that sounded like an 8-year-old politician delivering an acceptance speech. He would write songs on the piano and play them as if they were already hit singles. Although others would laugh at him or think it was foolishness, I could see and hear greatness in him.
Neither Einstein nor Oprah, nor my son were raised AS IF they had greatness inside of them. They grew into their greatness as they were continually refined by fire. And so will YOU be.
If you’re raising your kids “AS IF” right now, Congratulations. If not, there’s no time like the present to begin. It will take shifting your own beliefs about yourself first because there is greatness in all of us. While experiencing trials you will be refined by the fire to show you what you’re truly made of.
You never – ever have to be perfect at a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. You only have to move ahead one small step at a time. And if you fail, you’ll learn what not to do the next time.
In the mean time, remember to seek answers inside your spirit. And if you’d like a good book to read that can help you navigate life, get a complimentary copy of my latest book, Let The Real YOU Show Up. You can access it by signing in to the right, and always remember to be patient and kind to yourself.
Tailored to any audience, Kellie speaks on successful head and heart connections that develop sustainable relationships and businesses.