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04/21/2014 09:47 am ET | Updated Mar 12, 2015

What Oprah Knows For Sure About Asking The Right Questions

Debbie Yazbek

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By Oprah

What I know for sure, sitting high atop the perch of broader perspective at 60: Whether you're trying to create a great conversation or a great life, it's the questions that count.

Ask the right questions, and the answers will always reveal themselves.

I'm supporting hundreds of girls through college right now, most of them in South Africa, 19 in schools across the United States. Understandably, their top two questions are, "What do I want to do?" and "What should my major be?" At this stage, connecting your interests and passions to work that will let you earn a living is the key to career success. But as I often tell my girls from atop my "Mom O" perch, a career is not a life. What you want to do should emerge from who you want to be. Who do you want to be? That, to me, is the essential question.

Years ago I was in a disagreement with Stedman about something I no longer recall (and, even if I did, probably wouldn't put in print). He had done something that hurt my feelings or was somehow very upsetting to me. And I'll never forget his response. He said, "I'm sorry. This isn't the man I want to be. I can be better."

Whoa, that registered big-time on my respect meter. And caused me to do some personal soul-searching. I thought about those words for weeks afterward.

What kind of woman do I want to be? One who willingly gives and receives love. One who is compassionate. Understanding. Positive. Forgiving. A woman who makes responsible choices. I want to live with a heart open to life.

Everything I do -- my work on TV, my engagement with my school, my interactions with business partners and personal friends -- arises from who I choose to be.

And daily, we each get to choose.

Who are you when fear shows up in one of its many masks (anxiety and jealousy are two of the most common), making you question whether you're good enough, thin enough, young enough, smart enough, enough? Can you hold on to the center of yourself when the rest of your world is in chaos?

Who are you when success brings you prosperity, when you get to see and do things that some people can only dream of? Can you remain humble, clear, and mindful of others?

What kind of person do you want to be?

The answer for me is that I want to be in the space that stems from the Source of all things. No matter what highs or lows come my way. No matter the question, this is the answer that brings blessed assurance always.

My mantra, inspired by Acts 17:28: "In God I move and breathe and have my Being."

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