Oprah Winfrey says this is the one trait you need to achieve extraordinary success

Oprah Winfrey
Rebecca Sapp | Getty Images

If you feel unsure about your future, you're certainly not alone. Even media mogul Oprah Winfrey faced uncertainty at various points in her career.

But the billionaire says that cultivating one key trait helped her discover her life's purpose and achieve extraordinary success: self awareness.

At a Stanford Graduate School of Business panel, Winfrey tells students that everyone has a calling, which goes far beyond their job description. You cannot determine what yours is, she says, "unless you take the time to actually know who you are and why you're here."

She uses herself as an example. As a burgeoning journalist in Baltimore Winfrey was demoted from her co-anchor position, and had a sense that she wasn't yet fulfilling her destiny.

Even after a successful 25-year stint in Chicago, during which her morning program, once in last place, became the highest-rated talk show in the area, she still felt unsatisfied.

This billionaire started with nothing, but she made it anyway
This billionaire started with nothing, but she made it anyway

"I started to feel [like] this isn't it. There's something more … that's calling me to what is a supreme moment," Winfrey recalls. "And everybody has that."

In order to find your "something more," the billionaire says that you need a level of self awareness that only comes from connecting with your inner voice. "I call it your emotional GPS system," says Winfrey.

Listening to this inner voice, she says, is why she's so successful. "I live a fantastic life," says the media icon. "I live from the inside out."

Late Apple founder Steve Jobs was also a huge proponent of listening to that inner voice, and attributed the tech giant's success to following his gut instinct.

"You have to trust in something," he said in a 2005 Stanford speech. "Your gut, destiny, life, karma — whatever."

Historical greats have held similar beliefs. Renowned physicist Albert Einstein once told a friend, "All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge … At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason."

Though a number of hugely successful people extol the importance of being intuitive, many are unable to harness this trait because they're too busy to hear their inner voice, says Sue Hawkes, author of "Chasing Perfection: Minimize Self-Doubt and Maximize Success."

To connect with yours, she suggests finding a "quiet space" that's void of any distractions and simply keeping still. Once you feel aligned and are fully introspective, that's when innovation happens, Hawkes writes.

Winfrey knows this first-hand. "Every decision that has profited me has come from me listening to that inner voice," the media mogul says. "Everything that I have, I have because I let it be fueled by who I am."

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