by Michael P. Coleman

I’ve often said upon reading memoirs, from Tina Turner’s to Greg Louganis’, that if we could glean from a leader’s life journey how they did it — how they succeeded in the face of obstacles — we could achieve success in our own lives, independent of what path we choose or our own life’s work.

So when I was at a layover in Phoenix recently and discovered Oprah Winfrey’s recently-published What I Know For Sure, I was intrigued.  I downloaded the book and looked forward to what I thought might be relatively light, enjoyable reading during my business trip’s down time.  The book’s enjoyable, but it’s far from light if you really dig in.

With What I Know For Sure, Oprah’s made it easy for her readers by offering an opportunity to sidestep some of life’s land mines and get to the lessons post haste.  Winfrey’s taken a highlight of each issue of her magazine, its closing essay, and compiled the best of them into sections around the topics of Joy, Resilience, Connection, Gratitude, Possibility, Awe, Clarity, and Power.

What I Know For Sure is a quick, thoughtful, inspiring read.  There aren’t many surprises for members of Oprah’s tribe, but there are a few.  I found myself highlighting several sections, and forwarding segments to friends and family.  At times, Winfrey seems to revel in her role as spiritual guru, with passages like this:

“What I know for sure is that every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and step out and dance—to live free of regret and filled with as much joy, fun, and laughter as you can stand. You can either waltz boldly onto the stage of life and live the way you know your spirit is nudging you to, or you can sit quietly by the wall, receding into the shadows of fear and self-doubt.  You have the choice this very moment—the only moment you have for certain. I hope you arent so wrapped up in nonessential stuff that you forget to really enjoy yourself—because this moment is about to be over.”

And that’s just a part of the book’s introduction.  Can you handle the rest of What I Know For Sure?  I think you can.  In fact, I think you owe it to yourself to read it, and to begin living your best life.

Wow.  Thinking that last thought — let alone writing it — lets me know that I have seriously sipped some of Winfrey’s Kool-Aid over the years.  And it tastes just fine.

Print, electronic and audiobook versions of What I Know For Sure are available at iBooks, Amazon, and retail everywhere.  The audiobook version is read by Winfrey herself.  Click here for an audio sample.

Michael P. Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelance writer.  Connect with him at,, or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP


Similar Posts