Oprah Winfrey’s Inspiring Speech at Harvard: Failure & Life

Oprah Winfrey is a remarkable, inspirational icon and an innate leader, a motivator and a philanthropist.

Oprah’s show was one of the highest rated shows in television history, till date Oprah is counted amongst one of the most prominent and influential women.

Even though she was born into poverty and faced many challenges and obscurities, she still managed to gain amazing achievements.

These challenges appear to be the reason for her success and shaped the person she is today, someone that countless people all over the world look up to.

Here is Oprah’s Inspiring Speech at the commencement ceremony at Harvard, to tell students her story:

There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction. Now, when you’re down there in the hole, it looks like failure. … Give yourself time to mourn what you think you may have lost, but then here’s the key:

Learn from every mistake because every experience, encounter and particularly your mistakes are there to teach you and force you into being more who you are.

And then figure out what is the next right move. And the key to life is to develop an internal moral, emotional GPS that can tell you which way to go.

Oprah expressed it perfectly in her inspiring speech. We all come across moments in our lives when we feel stuck in some ruts, then inexplicably we go past that rut.

One way or another, life is flawlessly in concord with where we are, if we are attentive, we can see that we all have a purpose.

It may not be to be rich and famous, but when we complete the mission, there is a sanctified completeness that engulfs our inner health.

We all need to remember through thick and thin that “We are not without reason”.

We have also captured here some of the most inspirational and astute quotes from Oprah Winfrey, just like her inspiring speech, these words of motivation would also add a spark to your life. Enjoy!

Oprah’s inspiring quotes

“You can have it all. Just not all at once.”  Oprah Winfrey

“The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance – and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” ― Oprah Winfrey

“What I know for sure is that if you want success, you can’t make success your goal. The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant, and the success will naturally follow.” – Oprah Winfrey

“True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.” ― Oprah Winfrey

 oprahs-motivational-inspirational-quotes Inspiring Speech

“I believe that everyone is the keeper of a dream – and by tuning into one another’s secret hopes, we can become better friends, better partners, better parents, and better lovers.” – Oprah Winfrey

 “I trust that everything happens for a reason, even if we are not wise enough to see it.” ― Oprah Winfrey

“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.” – Oprah Winfrey

 “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” ― Oprah Winfrey

 “It isn’t until you come to a spiritual understanding of who you are – not necessarily a religious feeling, but deep down, the spirit within – that you can begin to take control.” ― Oprah Winfrey

 oprahs-motivational-inspirational-quotes Inspiring Speech

“Often we don’t even realize who we’re meant to be because we’re so busy trying to live out someone else’s ideas. But other people and their opinions hold no power in defining our destiny.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance.” ― Oprah Winfrey

“Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.” – Oprah Winfrey

 “If friends disappoint you over and over, that’s in large part your own fault. Once someone has shown a tendency to be self-centered, you need to recognize that and take care of yourself; people aren’t going to change simply because you want them to.” ― Oprah Winfrey

oprahs-motivational-inspirational-quotes Inspiring Speech

“I don’t think you ever stop giving. I really don’t. I think it’s an on-going process. And it’s not just about being able to write a check. It’s being able to touch somebody’s life.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.” ― Oprah Winfrey

Don't forget to share your views on Oprah’s Inspiring Speech at the commencement ceremony at Harvard below in comments.
About Kanika Gautam 116 Articles
Kanika is an ardent writer and a serial blogger in addition to being the founder of yourmotivationguru.com where she writes about growing the happiness ratio of life. She is also a technologist, bibliophile, speaker, educator and writer.


  1. Thanks for a great page.
    Do you know where/when Oprah actually said, “True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.””
    I’m looking for the source but it’s tough to find.

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