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you can't be friends with someone who wants your life

TRUTH: “You Can’t Be Friends With Someone Who Wants Your Life”

“You can’t be friends with someone who wants your life.” – Oprah Winfrey

I’m sharing this photo because in a life full of achievements, this moment *had* to have made Oprah Winfrey’s inner highlight reel.

Oprah is an extraordinarily accomplished woman.

She’s not superhuman. She has flaws. We all do, even our icons and heroines. I personally feel like she co-parented me (as a latch-key kid, her show was my after-school babysitter) — and still, I seriously disagree with her on some issues.

And: whatta career. Whatta life. Whatta woman.


That’s why that quote from her runs like a ticker tape through my head (so much so that I have to repeat it!): “You can’t be friends with someone who wants your life.”

I know this to be true. I know that when I’ve wanted someone else’s life, it made me transactional, strategic, subservient, and sometimes envious. In other words: not a safe friendship or business bet.

And I know that when friends, lovers or colleagues wanted what I had, we always ended in conflict and destruction. Always. #mimesis #girard

So screen for this. In yourself and others.

Best case scenario: it’s an indicator of a power imbalance that needs to be addressed — and it can be if you’re conscious of it and steward or share your power wisely.

(Read Cedar Barstow’s work on power, especially if you think you’re not a power-seeker. Her books, Living in the Power Zone (aff) and The Right Use of Power (aff), are game changers.)

Worst case scenario? Impending doom for everyone involved.

And in these urgent times, when there’s so much interlocking governmental, financial, social and environmental change we need to make, we’ve got to be building our resources and capacities up.

Not navigating interpersonal or intracommunal destruction. Not picking ourselves up off bathroom floors.

It’s hard to fight — or create — when you’re weeping on cold tiles.

So let’s do our work.
Let’s build our careers.
Let’s grow our lives.
And congratulate others on theirs.

(Belated congratulations, Oprah!)

photo: President Barack Obama awards the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Oprah Winfrey during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2013. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
#WeAreTheCultureMakers #TogetherWeRise

Kelly Diels teaches culture-making entrepreneurs & creators how to develop a substantial body of work that changes EVERYTHING -- your life, your industry, our world. (AKA Thought leadership for people who cringe at the phrase "thought leader".)  Her Sunday Love Letter can help you surface *your* unique method, step by step, week after week. www.kellydiels.com/subscribe

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