I used to ask God to help me master a new virtue every year. The year I requested strength, I was confronted with one exhausting "suck-your-blood experience" after another...after that year I quit asking. Now I just take what comes. I've learned to rely on the strength I inherited from all those who came before me—the grandmothers, sisters, aunts and brothers whose spirits were tested with unimaginable hardships yet survived. When I walk into a boardroom or stand before an audience or just move through the world, I bring all my history with me—all the people who paved the way for me are part of who I am. I take my greatest strength from their strength.

What I know for sure is that there is no strength without challenge, adversity, resistance and often pain. The problems that make you want to throw up your hands and holler "Mercy!" will build your tenacity, courage, discipline and determination. Strength comes from our ability to stand up, face resistance, and walk through it.

As you walk into what you fear, know that you already have the enduring power you're asking for—then say "Thank you," because you understand your deepest struggle will produce your greatest strength.

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During difficult times, Oprah often turns to a gospel song called "Stand" written by Donnie McClurkin.

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