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Since the day the late Gene Siskel asked me, “What do you know for sure?” and I got all flustered and started stuttering and couldn’t come up with an answer, I’ve never stopped asking myself that question. This month marks a big breakthrough for me.

I’ve always known that at my core I’m a teacher. I’ve worked as a news reporter, anchorwoman, and talk show host, but each one of those jobs was only preparation for the real call on my heart. In all the years of The Oprah Show, I was happiest in the midst of aha moments, especially when I could share them.

Here are a few of the life-changing lessons I’ve learned along the way.

— What you put out comes back all the time, no matter what. (This is my creed.)

— The roles we play in each other’s lives are only as powerful as the trust and connection between us—the protection, safety and caring we are willing to share.

— Failure is a signpost to turn you in another direction.

— When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. (A lesson from Maya Angelou.)

— If you make a choice that goes against what everyone else thinks, the world will not fall apart.

— Doubt means don’t. Don’t move. Don’t answer. Don’t rush forward.

— If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, that will be enough. (From the German theologian and humanist Meister Eckhart.)

— The greatest thing you can do is to make somebody feel that they matter.

— If you watch the news and the images it bombards us with—politicians running amok, despair, all-around craziness—you might think there’s nothing you can do to make this world better. I know that’s not true. When a concerted mass of us start thinking differently, we will start to see change. It begins with your own awakening, your own desire for a life that’s not just lived on the surface but is rich and deep and high and wide. For sure, that’s how I want to live.

I’m going to keep learning until I take my last breath. And I’m stepping out to claim my calling. It’s 25 years in the making. I’m ready.

-Oprah

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