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Have you ever wondered why some people strive to do great things, others settle for the best thing that comes along, and still others have no ambition at all?

If you think of it logically, you’ll probably conclude that it mostly has to do with your upbringing.  If people close to you do big things and encourage you to do the same, you will at least try to meet their high expectations of you.

But if that were true, almost all successful people would have successful children. And children from poor families with little to no support would rarely strive to do better. But we’ve seen both of those instances disproven time and time again.

In their recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, she told the Tom Joyner Morning Show that when she was a little girl, she thought she would grow up to be “something like Dr. Martin Luther King.”  She wasn’t sure what that entailed, but saw herself speaking in front of large crowds of people. Winfrey said when her grandmother chided her about not hanging clothes on the line properly, because she would need to know how to do it later, she said to herself, “No, I won’t.”

How does a seven-year-old living in a rural community surrounded with people who look like her in subservient positions become so assured that her future will be better?   

Congresswoman Barbara Jordan lived in a very segregated area of Houston, was forced to live in substandard housing and attended substandard public schools. Despite those obstacles, she said she knew as a young child, that she had no intention to become a run-in-the-mill person. She became a civil rights leader and the first African-American elected to the Texas Senate.

How Did Oprah Know She Would Do Big Things?  was originally published on

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