This One Tip from Oprah Will Help You Take Control of Your Success


So many times, especially in business, we find things that can drag us down.

We knock on doors, we keep knocking on doors, and yet they close, close, close.

Am I Good Enough?

We want to make more connections. We want to make more sales. We want to have more customers, and we struggle without having any growth, and we beat ourselves up.

We beat ourselves down. We get into self-doubt, right?

We look into that mirror and say, hey, I don’t look as good as I’d like to look. I think I’m too fat, or I’m too skinny. I’m not funny, or I’m not as smart as the other guy. We start to think we’re just not good enough.

And what’s the common factor to all those feelings? Control. We feel out of control, don’t we? We feel powerless, like something or someone else is directing our lives, and we wonder how to rein it in.

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Oprah Winfrey gave an interview about 20 years ago, and was asked if she had ever felt that way.

Here she was, a millionaire by age 32 with the highest-rated show in television history, and at the time of the interview she was the only African-American on the Forbes 400, with a net worth then of $800 million (now about $3 billion). Did she ever feel powerless?

Take Control of What You Can

“All the time,” she answered. I couldn’t believe it. But she had learned all kinds of strategies to overcome her self-doubt, to take control of events around her, and as I read the interview, one of those strategies really jumped off the page at me.

Oprah said that one thing she does all the time is she signs all of her checks. That might not sound like a big deal if you’re a sole proprietor or run a typical small business of 10 or fewer people. But this was Oprah! She didn’t let anyone else sign her checks; she knew every single nickel and dime that went out the door.

And so I started signing every check. I was amazed at how many errors I caught. I was amazed at the areas I was spending money where I didn’t need to be spending money.

I was amazed at things that I was overpaying for that I didn’t need to be overpaying for. And I realized that I have to watch the small stuff, if I really wanted to take hold of the big stuff.

Engage Your Motivation

Sometimes we get into the mechanics of what we do and that’s not a bad thing. Of course, we need to know the fundamentals. We need to know how to do what we have to do, and how to do it well and efficiently, but too often, we don’t look at the “will” part or the “spirit” part or the motivation part.

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And having your spirit up is as important a part of your success as any business or sales knowledge you’ll ever have. And the best way to have your spirit up is to be engaged. You have to be the one to sign the checks.

We have to look at every little detail of what we do in our business, and in our lives. Do not overlook anything. And one of the most important little details is YOU.

Be sure that you’re the one that signs every check that goes out the door, both literally and metaphorically. I promise you’ll feel more in control of your business and, more importantly, in control of your life. But don’t take my word for it, even Oprah says so.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton is an entrepreneur and NFL Hall of Famer, and the founder of and Tarkenton Companies. With a passion for small business, he’s started more than 20 businesses during and after his NFL career. Fran is a small business coach for entrepreneurs and business owners, providing advice and guidance through sites such as,, and more. He has written about business issues in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. New and World Report, and USA Today, along with regular appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. You can follow Fran on Twitter @Fran_Tarkenton.