Oprah Winfrey
Photo: Fabrizio Ferri
In my early years of television, I was often overwhelmed by people's view of me as a benevolent caregiver. Some would spend their last dime on a bus ticket to get to me, children would run away from home, abused women would leave their husbands and just show up at the doorstep of my studio, all hoping I'd help. I found myself writing check after check, and over time, that wore on my spirit. I was so busy trying to give all that everyone else needed me to offer that I lost touch with what I had a genuine desire to give. I finally had to stop and consider what I believe is one of the most important questions a woman can ask herself: What do I really want—and what is my spirit telling me is the best way to proceed?

My answer eventually led me toward my passion for serving women and girls. I began to realize that in order to be most effective, I had to be extremely focused on using my time, my concern, my resources and my compassion to uplift a generation of courageous women who own themselves and know their strength.

Those years of becoming focused taught me a powerful lesson about tuning in to my gut—that inkling that says, Hold on. Something's not right here. Please pause and make an adjustment. For me, doubt often means don't. Don't move. Don't answer. Don't rush forward. When I'm mired in confusion about what the next step should be, when I'm asked to do something for which I feel little enthusiasm, that's my sign to just stop—to get still until my instincts give me the go-ahead. I believe that uncertainty is really my spirit's way of whispering, I'm in flux. I can't decide for you. Something is off-balance here. I take that as a cue to re-center myself before making a decision—a reminder from above to wait for confirmation. When the universe compels me toward the best path to take, it never leaves me with "Maybe," "Should I?" or even "Perhaps." I always know for sure when it's telling me to proceed—because everything inside me rises up to reverberate "Yes!"

What Oprah Knows for Sure