Five Empowering Lessons From Michelle Obama You Need to Know
Michelle Obama went from a straight A student on the South Side of Chicago, to a corporate lawyer, to one of the most influential women in history — and now she’s sharing how she did it. She is just like you and me, a girl born to a middle class family, who had her own challenges in life, and who worked hard with resilience to achieve every milestone along the way.
She’s one of the most well-liked First Ladies of modern times, but that’s just breaking the surface when it comes to Michelle Obama.
It seems like she’s a woman who has it all: a prestigious education, flawless background, solid marriage to one of the world’s preeminent leaders, and a great track record as a mother. During her time in the White House Michelle Obama also became known as a consummate hostess and champion of many worthy philanthropic causes, and there are few in the spotlight who are able to shake off criticism as gracefully as she has.
Be it her job, family or children, Michelle Obama lived a life with many uncertain and difficult decisions to make.
But with each step she took, she learned newer ways to improve herself and create a legacy for people to look up to. Her obstacles and hardships have taught her many lessons and morals. She is a brilliant, charismatic, eloquent career woman, a powerful force for change who shines well outside the realm of her husband’s success.
Michelle Obama was the first African-American First Lady of the United States.
Through her four main initiatives, she has become a role model for women and an advocate for healthy families, service members and their families, higher education, and international adolescent girls education. She stood out as one of the most passionate and accomplished First Ladies in history because of her charisma, compassion and powerful speech-making.
Regardless of your political beliefs, it’s hard not to feel inspired by Michelle’s achievements.
For smart and ambitious women, there are a number of empowering tips to pick from Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama’s story encompasses various lessons. The following is a short account of what resonated most with me as most inspiring insights. Here are five lessons from Michelle Obama that touched my soul and hope would touch yours too!
Lesson #1: Don’t Think What Others Think of You
To find your true identity and explore yourself, the most crucial of all life lessons by Michelle Obama is to never bother with what others think of you. How can you think out of the box when you still feel the need to impress people in it? As normal beings, she too felt the need to be validated especially owing to where she came from. She often thought to herself ‘Am I Enough?’ But as she grew and faced reality, she realized that those people didn’t even deserve validation themselves.
As difficult as it can be to drown out influencing voices, your future belongs to no one but you.
When you’re faced with a big decision, try to think more about what you actually want than what other people might want for you. Having a voice always matters. You need to let people know who you are, what your opinions are and what you believe in. The way in which we express ourselves has changed overtime. Earlier, everyone talked. Now, everyone posts on social media. And social media brings a pressure on us to be what the world wants us to be, and not our true self’s. And so we mold the definition of our being to be aligned with what is “trending”. Forgetting our true self. And opening avenues for people to define us.
Thus, having a voice matters. And what we are going to project about us using that voice, also matters.
So let’s self reflect, understand who we truly are, and take a stand for ourselves, rather than being defined by others. Following a success-driven path on a straight-and-narrow road landed her in the corner office of a swanky law firm with the prospect of climbing even higher up the ladder. But then she met Barack, an unpredictable, out-of-the-box thinker with a wild drive and no clear path. Falling for Barack was a challenge ideologically and emotionally. It meant rebelling against predictability. Against the establishment. Against the perfection impression she hoped to project. Allowing herself to fall in love with him was the start of her swerve off the predictable path into a windy, challenging, imperfect, but deeply more satisfying one.
The only thing in your total control are your thoughts.
There is an infinite number of things that you cannot and will not ever be able to control, but you can control what happens inside of your head. Once you realize the power your thoughts have, you will be more careful with what you tell yourself and how you criticize what you do. Your words will reflect that desire burning inside because you will no longer have room for things that are not lit. Your words will no longer reflect discontent with the present situation, but hope and inspiration for what’s to come. Your thoughts will be that of someone whose fire is constantly burning.
Determine your own standard of success.
Don’t let your family or the outside world measure your success for you because it is likely to cause you to burn out and end up depressed. Figure out what makes you happy and build from there. That doesn’t mean be complacent. It just means that there are phases in life for each of us to enjoy and grow. Allow yourself time to grow and pace yourself along the journey. Brush it off and keep going. People will always have something to say, so the only thing that really matters is whether you actually listen to them.
Lesson #2: A Happy Face Works Wonders
Having struggled through many despairing incidents, staying hopeful is one of the strongest life lessons by Michelle Obama. She had lost two treasured people in the same year — her dad and her beloved college friend. It was an extremely tough phase for her to keep her hopes high. Yet, she took important decisions and reminded herself of the true purpose of her life and what she would want to be remembered for.
It can be easy to feel pessimistic about the state of the world or look at the negative in things around us.
But if we don’t look for the good, it can be harder to connect with others and create good things. As Michelle Obama was leaving the white house to let in the new president, she said even then she wouldn’t allow herself to become cynical. Her story proves that something extraordinary can happen to an ordinary person and that making progress means sometimes going backwards. With a positive outlook and effort, positive change will come.
Everyone wants to attain success in their life and for that, they persistently make efforts and incorporate various tactics which can bring out the bright side of their life.
It is said that every disappointing situation has a hidden opportunity to create desired results so one needs to have a positive attitude towards every situation. Having an optimistic mindset can truly change your way of living life as when a person has a positive approach towards life then it helps you grow in different ways. By creating positive energy around yourself, you can bring positive changes in your personal and professional life. It also helps in dealing with tough situations of life. When one keeps his mind optimistic then his sub-conscious mind also starts looking at the positive side of things which result in creating an overly positive life.
A positive attitude makes life look brighter and promising.
When you are positive, you tend to pull yourself out of any negative loop and don’t lose focus from what you really want to achieve. When you feel low on self-esteem and self-confidence, chances are you slip off that focus and motivation but it is positive thinking that helps you stay focused and motivated. You aren’t perfect. You’re going to make mistakes and experience failure in multiple contexts, at multiple jobs and with multiple people. Instead of focusing on how you failed, think about what you’re going to do next time–turn your failure into a lesson. Conceptualize this in concrete rules.
A positive attitude helps you cope more easily with the daily affairs of life.
It brings optimism into your life, and makes it easier to avoid worries and negative thinking. If you adopt it as a way of life, it would bring constructive changes into your life, and makes them happier, brighter and more successful. A positive attitude leads to happiness and success and can change your whole life. If you look at the bright side of life, your whole life becomes filled with light. This light affects not only you and the way you look at the world, but it also affects your environment and the people around you.
Lesson #3: Keep a Great Inner Circle
Women need each other. Whether it’s for a mood lift, a girls’ trip, to share miscarriage stories or introduce each other to fertility specialists as Michelle’s did. If you have girlfriends, try to stay in touch as much as you can. We all have busy lives, but these are the things that keep us going and feeling less alone in our struggles.
Your self-worth shouldn’t be dependent on others, but incredible things are rarely accomplished alone. Friends help.
For some reason, it takes some women forever to realize the power of female friendships. Michelle Obama, however, is not one of such women. In her book Becoming, she hails friendships between women and introduces us to as many of her friends as possible. I cannot help but agree that such friendships “are built of a thousand small kindnesses…swapped back and forth and over again.”
It’s human nature to be influenced by the people in your inner circle.
In fact, the odds of being successful are a lot higher if you’re surrounding yourself with people who are also successful. These people play a part in determining how you think, how you act, and ultimately how successful you will become. Take a look at your circle and you’ll see how they have attributed to your successes. They may be having a larger impact on your life than you realize…or would like to admit. Both personally and professionally – your strong relationships make you a stronger person.
Besides, everyone should be aware of the impact they have on other people.
Michelle Obama for instance discusses how different people can impact the strength of a girl’s voice. Both female and male role models have an enormous impact on whether girls feel worthy or confident, whether they dare to speak up and whether they dare to follow their dreams. She talks about her father as positive example, who raised her and her brother Craig as equals. My story could have been anyone’s story, Michelle Obama says. This part of Obama’s story teaches us to be humble and to treat people equally.
Although there is nothing wrong in developing yourself to be the best version of you, wouldn’t it be a tad better if we started thinking about others as well?
Specially in today’s world where there is so much competition everywhere, wouldn’t it be heart warming to mentor someone, to create opportunities for someone, to share your experiences, to guide, to become true leaders! Today we have diverse communities everywhere in the world. Not just diverse in terms of race, but also diverse in terms of thoughts and actions. If we started working together towards things that matter to us all, we can truly let go of biases and stereotypes that divide us and work towards common meaningful goals.
Lesson #4: Overcome Fear
Fear is one of the greatest obstacles between where you stand now and what you can achieve. Many skilled people have lost huge opportunities due to staying in the same place fearing what might happen if they move. Michelle Obama advises people to embrace change, no matter how scary it seems. The fear of newer and unpredictable incidents is certain but once you learn how to overcome it, there are abundant opportunities.
As easier it is said than done, Michelle Obama has chosen many hard paths and taken tough decisions to reach where she proudly stands.
When Michelle decided to try to move out of her successful law career and into something she was passionate about, she felt paralyzed by the unknowable nature of that change. Fortunately, Michelle had Barack’s “simple, buoying faith” to support her. If fear is stopping you from pursuing something you know you want, try to imagine Barack Obama encouraging you to just go for it. So whether you’re fresh out of school with a degree you’re not sure what to do with, or in an uncertain career or business path, don’t throw your hands up just yet. Be open to trying something else, and switching things up until you find what works. After all, in the end, all you have is your story, whether or not it’s perfect to anyone else.
You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.
So many times we strangle our inner voice, just because we fear of what might happen. We usually accept defeat without trying. We do need to account for realities and practicalities of our lives. For instance, we cannot just quit our jobs just to follow a passion, and become broke! But, we can revisit our inner callings from time to time, and start taking baby steps to make it a reality. We can take educated actions to fulfill our dreams. It does not always have to be dramatic! And it also does not need to be dormant, just because we hide behind fear.
Change is scary, especially when you want it badly but don’t know what it consists of.
That’s what typically keeps people stuck. They wait for the perfect road to unfold in their mind before they dare to step foot on it. But the truth is that clarity comes from action. Period. If you don’t get out of your head, you’re never going anywhere. That’s why I love what Michelle did when she decided to leave her job. All she knew was that she had spent her entire life working to become a lawyer, and that now that she was one, she no longer wanted to practice law. That realization could have frozen her in fear. Instead of worrying about all of that, she just got moving. By meeting people, sharing her story, and quizzing people on what they did, she opened up many unexpected doors that she was then able to decide whether to go through, or not.
With chronic fear, you’re not experiencing anxiety — you’re living in it.
The fear response becomes a maladaptive lifestyle, influencing everything you think, feel and do. Living in fear keeps you stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle of defeat and frustration. Conversely, when you put an end to the blame game and start becoming the master of your own destiny, endless possibilities open up to you. The reason for determining the source of your anxiety isn’t to give you an excuse to keep living in fear. It’s to help you assert power over those fears so that they no longer control you. Once you identify the source, you can change your story — and change your mindset. The first step is recognizing that you have a choice. You can blame outside forces for your emotions and continue to feel out of control. Or you can take charge of your life and learn how to stop living in fear.
Lesson #5: Own Your Success
Michelle Obama is here to spill the secret of becoming bold — by keeping your head up high and stop doubting yourself. Every one of us feels like they aren’t as good as the people with power and position. However, the truth is they are there because of you. They might be yearning for newer ideas that you possess. Don’t think of them as powerful beings just because they say the wrong things with confidence. Often, the people who are intimidated by you will make sure you feel little and uncomfortable.
She’s been growing up as a black girl in a middle-class family to being one of the most respected, i.e. First Lady of the United States.
The journey surely needed a strong voice to make sure people sit back and listen. If people doing the wrong thing express themselves with great confidence and are heard, imagine what the right people are capable of. You just need to shout louder to be heard. Michelle mentions that she learned a lot from her husband, Barack Obama on being bold with your voice. Barack Obama was among the people who were a little rebellious against what he felt was wrong which often impressed the masses and the rest is history!
Good or bad. Born with a silver spoon, or self made with struggles at every point of life. Your story is what you have. Own it. Nobody is less, nobody is more.
If you are born to a rich family, you do not need to feel guilty of the money and comforts you get and you also do not need to squander the money away on things that don’t matter. Own this privilege and make your life meaningful. If you are born with less privileges, not having a big home or maybe not having a big family. Own it. Because this is your story, and owning it will give you the motivation to earn those privileges.
In high school, Michelle aspired to attend Princeton University. When she approached her college counselor about it, the counselor told her she wasn’t sure Michelle was “Princeton material”.
Michelle, however, chose not to lower her sights and didn’t let one person’s opinion lead her away from what she knew about herself. Then, at 29, Michelle found herself wondering if she could ever juggle being an independent career woman while being a wife and mother. She stayed determined, however, and you know what happened after: she became a lawyer, the wife of the 44th US president, a mother of two, and a symbol of empowerment to millions around the world.
Michelle Obama uses visualization to help others reach higher, to imagine a future that stretches their imagination.
As First Lady she visited schools in underprivileged communities regularly, targeting girls in particular. She’d share her story of growing up in a modest neighborhood with limited means in order to connect with those goals. To create a real life anchor, a reference, in order to then show them where they could go from there. She did so not only figuratively, but literally. She invited the girls to Oxford, then brought them to the White House for an up-close-in-your-face look inside the walls of privilege. To unpack the reality of it. This process is all about creating fuel through familiarity and proximity, and it’s a cornerstone of drive and motivation, whatever the goal may be.
To be honest, after writing the article, I have developed a deep respect for Michelle Obama. Her life inspires me. Her strength gives me strength to take action on things that matter to me. Her way of life teaches me how to manage work and family, and enjoy both. Above all, It gave me a fresh perspective to look at the story of my life, and own it.
Michelle Obama is a new type of authentic leader; one whose sense of responsibility goes much further than herself or her direct environment.
Unlike many others, Michelle Obama’s achievements go beyond just being the wife of Barack Obama. She has broken out of that mold and works for the social issues that require her concern. The first lady of America didn’t shy away from raising her voice for a cause. Being a mother of two, Michelle’s strength shows from the fact that she maintains her family, lives up to the duties of being the first lady and an iconic figure all too well.
One of the first things you notice about Michelle Obama is her quiet, unapologetic sense of self.
She was able to demonstrate respect for others AND respect for herself. In a world that can sometimes treat powerful women harshly, it’s easy to develop a tricky relationship with your personal power. But if you want to lead, you’ve got to get that relationship sorted pronto. Resist the urge to play small in order to gain the acceptance of others. Never speak negatively about yourself. Only apologize when you genuinely mean it.
Hopefully these lessons from Michelle Obama do provide you with inspiration to find and believe in your story and to take the next step in your becoming.
These were the five empowering lessons by Michelle Obama that can edify your life. Michelle Obama’s spirit is truly worth embracing and spreading around. Which one of these lessons resonates the most with you? How could you use it to create more happiness and fulfillment in your life? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!
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