The latest Forbes poll listing the most powerful women in the world is a fascinating close call for the number one spot. Oprah, it is said, is only too happy to concede the throne to Gaga now that her own legendary afternoon program is ending its run after 25 amazing years. Lady Gaga now occupies it, having narrowly surpassed Oprah Winfrey who has long reigned at the top of that list. Gaga, who is herself a mere 25 years old, at most a month or two younger than Oprah’s show, has made a meteoric rise to world fame that would be amazing for anyone her age.
What, if anything, do these two uncommon women have in common? They are each in their ways heroically passionate as global activists, and possess an original beauty. Their comfort in their respective bodies has been hard won and an incentive to encourage women to embody their own sense of self, because we all suffer the superficial measures of beauty that pop culture can impose.
In my work as a Life Coach, I am often in the position of helping people to connect with their intuition. Most of us live in such states of habitual fear when it comes to connecting our inner worlds with our outer lives. We often blind ourselves to the opportunity at the heart of each of our lives. In Oprah and Gaga we find two women who live fearlessly by the truth of what is within them. In very different ways, they each Embody their gifts of intuition.
In practical terms, this means they show up emotionally and truthfully, no matter how many eyes are upon them. They have the courage and the vulnerability to confide in their audience.
For Oprah, this has manifested most dramatically in the sensitive way she draws her guests into deep conversation, and has done from her very earliest days on the air. She has succeeded at this in large part because she has been so willing to reveal herself, and at profound levels. She has shared with us the story of her sexual abuse when still a child at the hands of an older relative. She has built upon this courageous disclosure to become, over the course of a quarter century, a passionate crusader against the victimization of women, especially female children, in all the forms such injustice might take.
In a sense, she opened a floodgate in our culture because she was able to take a subject cloaked in shame for women and men the world over and made it mainstream. Consider if you will, how much child abuse has become a central topic in our public discourse since 1986, and how much has come healingly to light because Oprah was so bravely willing to come out over this topic.
For Gaga, whose flamboyant hairstyles and elaborate masks and costumes might lead us, at least at first glance, to mistake her for just another flamboyant exhibitionist. Gaga has acknowledged her bisexuality and is an ardent champion for Gay Rights. She is able to be humorous, magnetic and charming in these acknowledgements.
Her inner life is expressed in the soulful intellect within her lyrics. “I’m your biggest fan / I’ll follow you until you love me,” she sings in Paparazzi. Or in Born This Way: “I’m beautiful in my way / Because God makes no mistakes.” These are the witty self-expressions of a person who fully recognizes the dangers of fame, but is determined to fully share with her audience a way to self-affirmation that glorifies the person listening as much if not more than it does the star up there singing. When up on that stage, no matter how outrageous her costume, Gaga is able to bare her heart, be vulnerable and much as Oprah did, speak universally to the wounds and fears suffered by her fans because she herself endured bullying and rejection when young.
Her intuitive insight has been that she is not alone in her suffering. That has been Oprah’s major contribution as well. Small wonder that Amazon crashed when Gaga’s newest album was released. As has been true of Oprah, Gaga has touched so many hearts that the orders were too great in volume to handle. People feel included when she performs; as too with Oprah, we feel acknowledged. That is leading with one’s vulnerability, living the truth of one’s intuitive gifts.
Oprah has set the bar high as an authentic leader—the people’s monarch, who has provided a dominant cultural platform for people all over the world. There is no doubt in my mind that her legendary work and consummate integrity will continue.
Both Oprah and Gaga share a philanthropic podium and their attitude of gratitude spills over to greater acts of generosity that truly touch our spirits.