Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010

Oprah Winfrey

What is the best and worst decision you've ever made?
Every right decision I've made has come from my gut. And every wrong decision I've ever made was a result of me not listening to the greater voice of myself. Feelings are really your GPS system for life. When you're supposed to do something or not supposed to do something, your emotional guidance system lets you know. The trick is to learn to check your ego at the door and start checking your gut instead.

I was always happy doing my talk show, but that happiness reached a depth of fulfillment of joy that I really can't describe or measure when I stopped just being on TV and looking at TV as a job and decided to use television — to use it and not have it use me, to use it as a platform to serve my viewers. That alone changed the trajectory of my success.

What was your dream job as a kid and why?
If I wasn't doing my show, I've often said that I would be a fourth-grade teacher because of Mrs. Duncan, who was my fourth-grade teacher. She inspired me to learn and created a sense of self-esteem for me.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Don't be afraid. Believe in yourself. All you have to know is who you are. There is no such thing as failure. What other people label or might try to call failure, I have learned is just God's way of pointing you in new direction. You may take several paths that end up on what might be a dead end for you if you haven't found your calling within yourself yet.

Your calling isn't something that somebody can tell you about. It's what you feel. It is apart of your life force. It is the thing that gives you juice. The thing that you're supposed to do and nobody can tell you what that is. You know inside you.

What woman inspires you and why?
A couple of years ago, I interviewed Monica George, and I have never forgotten her irrepressible spirit and unflinching determination to live life to the absolute fullest.

Imagine going into the hospital to have a baby. You have the healthy baby and you expect to be coming home with this tiny little bundle of joy with little arms and legs and instead you go home without your arms and legs — the arms that were going to hold this child and legs that were going to walk with her in the park because of flesh-eating bacteria you acquired at the hospital. Monica had 37 operations in two months, but she is now back home with her girls, home without a trace of self pity, home with a smile on her face and a peace in her heart.

And when I first talked to her [in 2008] she said, "Sure, sometimes it hurts that she is not able to paint Sophie's nails and toenails and do the things that mothers and daughters do," but she also said, "What good are you to your children if you are miserable?"

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
We are all here with hope that in our generation, as in others before — despite our difficulties and despite our mistakes, despite hostile resistance and sometimes cruel opposition — that the best of the American character, the highest of American ideals, and the brightest of American dreams might be realized. The challenge is to carry on that legacy.