The reason I chose this as my first video project (https://youtu.be/N8tLhryYP6Q) is that I am very passionate about leadership, and one of the first families that I look up to is the ‘Obamas’. My journey with Barack Obama started long ago when he was vying for the first time and I was a young kid and I remember I used to take newspapers and then cut them and then place them in book. I still have that book by the way until today.
I think the reason I love the Obamas that much is because they remind me that no matter where I come from, I can still be someone: It doesn’t matter my background; It doesn’t matter where I am coming from – they rose from nowhere to the highest office in the land. My love for Obama has gotten me into several problems once in a while such that whenever I meet a boy, I try to picture “Can he be an Obama?”. Of course it gets me into trouble because there can only be one Obama and it makes me have very high standards in life. But I was encouraged when I read that Michelle was being told that she had let her very high standards drop for letting a personal smoker in her life. So, I am not the only one who has high standards.🙂
The lessons I am going to share are in no particular order. They are actually my opinions and I’m going to try and follow the book from the way it progresses. Thank you and I hope you learn something from it.
1.You can be great despite your background.
When Michelle starts describing her life from the first page, you don’t expect her to be a First Lady. She is just a young girl from the South side of Chicago, who is very ambitious but she is not even sure of what she is aiming at. The same as Obama, He is a skinny boy with a funny name with a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas – just a normal life.
When you are looking at their lives as it starts, you don’t expect them to rise to the highest office on the land. Michelle says that her dad and mum did not have a house that he and her brother Craig were their investment. Towards the end she writes; ‘There are portraits of me and Barack now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, a fact that humbles us both. I doubt that anyone looking at our two childhoods, our circumstances, would ever have predicted we’d land in those halls. The paintings are lovely, but what matters most is that they’re there for young people to see—that our faces help dismantle the perception that in order to be enshrined in history, you have to look a certain way. If we belong, then so, too, can many others.’ (p.459).
This is a very clear example where the two of them depict the picture that it doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter your race or your skin colour or even the circumstances that you were brought up with, you can rise to the highest point either in your career, your life – anything that you’re aiming to do. You can be the greatest and your past circumstances should not define you. We are not bound by where we come from, we can rise to be great all of us and I think what makes this couple a hope of many people is that they rose from nothing and so can you. You can rise to be the highest in whatever point you want. Whether it is your career, business, etc. You can be the greatest despite your circumstances. We are not bound by our childhood, we can all rise to be great.
2.Know what you want from the word go.
Michelle knew what exactly she wanted from the whole book and she even says;
‘I arranged my first real kiss, in fact, over the phone. It was with a boy named Ronnell.’ (p.64).
(I wish that was me, I wish I knew how to plan those kinds of things when I was young).
Even when she dumped David, she says;
‘It was confusing. I knew what I wanted but couldn’t find the words. I hoped that someday my feelings for a man would knock me sideways, that I’d get swept into the upending, tsunami-like rush that seemed to power all the best love stories… I wanted to believe that there was a guy who’d materialize and become everything to me, who’d be sexy and solid and whose effect would be so immediate and deep that I’d be willing to rearrange my priorities. It just wasn’t the guy standing in front of me right now.’ (p. 83).Y
ou see, she knew exactly that David and her were going nowhere and she dismissed Kevin as soon as she saw him in a funny mascot outfit. Even her parents doubted whether Obama would stay;
‘My parents knew better than to get too attached. They’d raised me to run my own life, and that’s basically what I did. I was too focused and too busy, I’d told my parents plenty of times, to make room for any man’ (p.22).
What I like again is that when she met Obama and he was not a phone call type of a guy, she told him,
‘…I informed Barack that if our relationship was going to work, he’d better get comfortable with the phone. “If I’m not talking to you,” I announced, “I might have to find another guy who’ll listen.’ I was joking, but only a little.’ (p.127).
From the word go, Michelle knew what she wanted. It is good to know what you want, and demand for it or ask for it, and if you don’t see a future with someone, leave… (I think that is very important for teenagers or anyone – just leave)
3.The environment of a child is very important to shape the future.
We can see at young age, Michelle’s parents did not try to impose their beliefs to their children, they let them be. She says;
‘She and my dad offered guidelines rather than rules. It meant that as teenagers we’d never have a curfew. Instead, they’d ask, “What’s a reasonable time for you to be home?”’ (p. 61).
So, you see the parents gave a very good platform for Michelle and her brother to understand themselves. Also she says about Obama;
‘It was Ann Dunham who’d introduced him to the richness of literature and the power of a well-reasoned argument.’ (p. 189).
We also see how Obama’s childhood gave him that importance of literature. Even at a young age, when she had arguments with her piano teacher, her parents never shut her off.That is very important especially for anyone who has kids – this is a lesson that it is good to let those kids be themselves, and discover themselves, and support them, and not shut them down.
4.It is okay to be different.
When Michelle was young, she was told that she doesn’t speak like a black, that means she had really good English and also when Deedee didn’t like Michelle, she demanded for her respect – they fought. So, it is always a good thing to stand out. The other thing was that Obama was white to some and black to some which led to confusion. So, Obama was standing out due to his mixed race. Michelle says;
‘I knew the stereotype I was meant to inhabit, the immaculately groomed doll-wife with the painted-on smile, gazing bright-eyed at her husband, as if hanging on every word. This was not me and never would be. I could be supportive, but I couldn’t be a robot.’ (p.233).
So, even when she became the First Lady, she said ‘no’ to being a robot. She didn’t follow everyone. She stood out and she was outspoken. I think that is very important. She also refused to move to Washington when a high profile woman call her. She said she wanted to remain in Chicago – What a woman! She also says that she watched Oprah and Ellen more than she watched political Meet the Press or Face the Nation. She was the First Lady and she did what she wanted. She didn’t let herself carried away by her life. She stood for what she believed in.
5.It is okay to be confused or to be in moments of doubt but keep moving.
If you read her book, there is a part that she says;
‘The first thing was that I hated being a lawyer. I wasn’t suited to the work. I felt empty doing it, even if I was plenty good at it. This was a distressing thing to admit, given how hard I’d worked and how in debt I was.’ (p. 140).
She also adds;
‘The second was that I was deeply, delightfully in love with a guy whose forceful intellect and ambition could possibly end up swallowing mine.’ (p. 140).
To add, she also describes how she had to find a new profession;
‘…and what shook me most was that I had no concrete ideas about what I wanted to do. Somehow, in all my years of schooling, I hadn’t managed to think through my own passions and how they might match up with work I found meaningful. As a young person, I’d explored exactly nothing.’ (p. 140).
She goes on to say;
‘I both credited and blamed Barack for the confusion. “If there were not a man in my life constantly questioning me about what drives me and what pains me,” I wrote in my journal, “would I be doing it on my own?” (p. 141).
‘I tried to think back and remember how it was that my life had forked away from the predictable, control-freak fantasy existence I’d envisioned for myself—the one with the steady salary, a house to live in forever, a routine to my days. At what point had I chosen away from that? When had I allowed the chaos inside? Had it been on the summer night when I lowered my ice cream cone and leaned in to kiss Barack for the first time’ (p. 435).
All these shows us that we all go through moments that we question ourselves but we should keep going and taking risks and decisions even when we are not sure of them.
6.You are good enough.
Michelle asked herself whether she was good enough a couple of times. This can be seen in;
‘My worries about high school, if they were to be cataloged, could mostly be filed under one general heading: Am I good enough? It was a question that dogged me through my first month, even as I began to settle in, even as I got used to the predawn wake-ups and navigating between buildings for class.’ (p.69).
She also says;
‘This was the doubt that sat in my mind through student orientation, through my first sessions of high school biology and English, through my somewhat fumbling get-to-know-you conversations in the cafeteria with new friends. Not enough. Not enough. It was doubt about where I came from and what I’d believed about myself until now. It was like a malignant cell that threatened to divide and divide again, unless I could find some way to stop it.’ (p. 70).
In another part, she says;
‘Because while I was social student who continued to lounge through communal mealtimes and had no problem trying to own the dance floor at Third World Center parties, I was still privately and at all times focused on the agenda. Beneath my laid back college – kid demeanor, I lived like a half closeted CEO, quietly but unswervingly focused on achievement, bent on checking every box. My to do list lived in my head and went with me everywhere. I assessed my goals, analyzed my outcomes, counted my wins. If there was a challenge to vault, I’d vault it. One proving ground only opened onto the next. Such is the life of a girl who can’t stop wondering, Am I good enough? and is still trying to show herself the answer’(p. 100).
And then also when she was the First Lady, she says;
‘Unlike Barack, I could be a doubter. I still held on to the worries I’d had since childhood. What if we’re not good enough? Maybe everything we’d been told was an exaggeration. Maybe Barack was less popular than his people believed.’ (p. 233). ‘For me, it revived an old internal call-and-response, one that tracked all the way back to high school, when I’d shown up at Whitney Young and found myself suddenly gripped by doubt. Confidence, I’d learned then, sometimes needs to be called from within. I’ve repeated the same words to myself many times now, through many climbs. Am I good enough? Yes I am.’ (p. 330).
Even this statement can be seen when she went and gave a speech to the students in UK, she told them they were good enough because they could see themselves like her. The society always tries to tell that we are not good enough – that said, we always have those moments that we ask ourselves are we good enough? Do we measure up? And from this book, it is clear enough that YOU’RE GOOD ENOUGH!
If you have doubts, you can overcome them by doing little accomplishments.
This can be found where she says;
‘With each little accomplishment, with every high school screwup I managed to avoid, my doubts slowly took leave. I liked most of my teachers. I wasn’t afraid to raise my hand in class. At Whitney Young, it was safe to be smart. The assumption was that everyone was working toward college, which meant that you never hid your intelligence for fear of someone saying you talked like a white girl.’ (p. 72).
She also says;
‘Though I was thought of as a popular First Lady, I couldn’t help but feel haunted by the ways I’d been criticized, by the people who’d made assumptions about me based on the color of my skin. To this end, I rehearsed my speeches again and again using a teleprompter set up in one corner of my office. I pushed hard on my schedulers and advance teams to make sure every one of our events ran smoothly and on time. I pushed even harder on my policy advisers to continue growing the reach of Let’s Move! and Joining Forces. I was focused on not wasting any of the opportunities I now had, but sometimes I had to remind myself just to breathe .’ (p. 408).
So, if you have doubts or moments of doubts, there more you try on doing something like Michelle did, the more you become better at it. If you have doubts, do something about it; keep on doing it and trying repeating it and it will be fine. Lastly, try to accomplish something, it makes you feel good.
7.Friendship is very important.
Michelle speaks so fondly from her childhood friends from Santita to so many friends and she says even when she would have a boyfriend, they are the ones who would hold them down. So, it emphasizes on the importance of friendships; that we are all social beings and we need people in our lives. Appreciate your friends and have the right types of friends who you can ran to.
8. People’s opinion about you don’t dictate your destiny.
One, I love her attitude. There is a counsellor who said she was not a Princeton material but she went and applied and sought for advice from another person who believed in her and later ended up in Princeton. She didn’t let the words of that counsellor define her destiny.
She says ‘Some were born poor or have lived lives that to many of us would appear to have been unfairly heaped with adversity, and yet still they seem to operate as if they’ve had every advantage in the world. What I’ve learned is this: All of them have had doubters. Some continue to have roaring, stadium – sized collections of critics and naysayers who will shout I told you so at every little misstep or mistake. The noise doesn’t go away, but the most successful people I know have figured out how to live with it, to lean on the people who believe in them, and to push onward with their goals.’ Also on Obama, He was criticized with so many people about his race, his birthplace etc. but that did not stop him from becoming the President. There is even someone who said that;
‘He went to Harvard and became an educated fool. We’re not impressed with these folks with these eastern elite degrees.’ (p. 202)
Can you imagine? There is also a senate minority leader who said;
4’ (p. 412).
But he didn’t become a one term president:
‘Barack would win all but one of the battleground states that night.’ (p. 417).
If anything, the Obamas prove that it’s against all odds that you can rise. These are people who are criticized by so many people for being different, for being black, etc. you know there were so many critics around them but they go ahead and prove that other people opinions about you does not define your destiny. You should always know who you are, and go for what you want, and know that critics will always be there – and you should not let them. You should just do your thing and rise to the top!
9.No matter how busy you are, please create time for your family.
They were there for their little girls as they were growing up despite their busy schedules and having a job.
Michelle had a job, Barack was campaigning but they still created time – even when Malia was sick. It is very important to create time for your family and your loved one. Don’t say you’re too busy; there might be protocols and all that but they would always try to have normal bad days, to meet the friends of their children, etc. It is very important to create time for your family.
10. Losing once doesn’t mean you will lose forever.
There is a part she says;
‘In March, Barack lost the Democratic primary in what ended up being a resounding victory for Bobby Rush.’ (p.203)
But that didn’t discourage him from rising to be the leader he is. Also Michelle failed in a test (yes, the remarkable woman fell in a test); She had a miscarriage and they had to go for in vitro fertilization (IVF). As you see, even if things were not working, these people were finding ways to go for it again. I think they teach us a very important lesson that in life we don’t always sometimes get what we want, sometimes we lose, cry, fail or even sometimes things may not go how we plan but that doesn’t mean we lose hope. Losing once or being in problem/challenge doesn’t mean that you let it stick to you It means that you keep moving forward, keep trying and find alternatives of how you can do the same thing.
11. Be cautious with money
‘Life on Euclid Avenue had taught me—maybe forced me—to be hard-edged and practical about both time and money.’ (p. 101).
She says there is time she went and volunteered something but she was very broke and that she felt so guilty about it. Also when they got into office, they were supposed to be;
‘given access to $100,000 in federal funds to help with moving and redecorating, but Barack insisted that we pay for everything ourselves, using what we’d saved from his book royalties. As long as I’ve known him, he’s been this way: extra vigilant when it comes to matters of money and ethics, holding himself to a higher standard than even what’s dictated by law. There’s an age old maxim in the black community: You’ve got to be twice as good to get half as far.’ (p. 340).
She brings it clearly that it is good to be watchful of your finances whether you are president, First Lady or just staring your career.
12, Finding a mate and falling in love is a beautiful thing.
Since Obama walked into that office and Michelle was supposed to show Him around and in their friendship development, it comes out like something beautiful especially in a generation where relationship and love are now viewed as something that is not to be waited for or someone should not aspire to be in a relationship because they are messed up. It gives hope to the young generation that falling in love is a beautiful process and it should happen naturally and I love that. (So, my Obama wherever you are please…)😇
13. Small things in relationship count
This is clearly where she writes;
‘So many of my friends judged potential mates from the outside in, focusing first on their looks and financial prospects. If it turned out the person they’d chosen wasn’t a good communicator or was uncomfortable with being vulnerable, they seemed to think time or marriage vows would fix the problem. But Barack had arrived in my life a wholly formed person. From our very first conversation, he’d shown me that he wasn’t self-conscious about expressing fear or weakness and that he valued being truthful. At work, I’d witnessed his humility and willingness to sacrifice his own needs and wants for a bigger purpose.’ (p. 131).
Another part she says;
‘And now in Hawaii, I could see his character reflected in other small ways. His long lasting friendships with his high school buddies showed his consistency in relationships. In his devotion to his strong willed mother, I saw a deep respect for women and their independence. Without needing to discuss it outright, I knew he could handle a partner who had her own passions and voice. These were things you couldn’t teach in a relationship; things that not even love could really build or change. In opening up his world to me, Barack was showing me everything I’d ever need to know about the kind of life partner he’d be.’ (p.131-132).
So what I get from her is that it is good to observe the small things like how do they relate with their family members, how do they treat their mum etc. because those small things like trust, how they handle other people, their dedication is what really counts. It’s not about material things.
14.The people you associate yourself with matter a lot.
‘Barack’s dedication to reading had brought out a new bookishness in me. I was now content to spend a Saturday night reading a good novel on the couch.’ (p.132). She also adds ‘The whole exercise of recording one’s thoughts was new to me a habit I’d picked up in part, I suppose, from Barack, who viewed writing as therapeutic and clarifying and had kept journals on and off over the years.’ (p.138).
The other thing is that she started campaigning because of Barack. So I think if you stay next to someone, you will try to coy their habits consciously or sub – consciously; that’s just how it is. We see Michelle’s life being directly impacted by being around Barack. She tries to copy some of the things that she had. Also Barack had to learn how to communicate because of being with Michelle. It is very important you choose the people you would want to associate with (with caution) i.e. your best friends, your spouse, your partners and anyone who you’re going to spent time around with because consciously or sub – consciously you are going to borrow some of the tings from them..
15.Life is to be cherished
One of Michelle’s friends (Suzanne) died at 26 years old and we can see Michelle reflecting about that. There is a place she writes ‘Life is short and not to be wasted. If I died, I didn’t want people remembering me for the stacks of legal briefs I’d written or the corporate trademarks I’d helped defend. I felt certain that I had something more to offer the world. It was time to make a move.’ I think from those two scenarios they showed us that life is to be cherished and there are many scenarios as well e.g. when Barack lost his grandmother and then his mother. Life is to be cherished. You should always appreciate the little days; when you have friends appreciate them and if you don’t like something like you career, change it because you should not live your life in such a way that when you die today, you’re going to regret that you wish you should have done so and so. Life is to be appreciated every day.
16. Change until you find what makes you happy.
We see Michelle moving from law and going to several offices working and whenever she would find the need to change, she would change until she found out that she could make an impact. In a society where were are taught to be rigid, to stick and to be stable; if you find that something is not making you happy honestly, just change/swap until you find what makes you happy.
16. We all have different clocks.
Barack when he short to fame, Michelle was invisible (the family was invisible) but there is a part she says;
‘I had Oprah Winfrey sending me encouraging texts.
Stevie Wonder, my childhood idol, was showing up to play at campaign events, joking and calling me by my first name as if we’d known each other forever.’ (p. 306).
And that she also saw Beyonce from performing. She met all these other people like Mandela at a later age. If you look at Oprah’s life, she shown at the limelight at 19. From the Obama story, we learn that it is very important to learn that we have different clocks: some will make it at 19, others at 20, others at 40 or 50 and once your moment has come, you will rise to the highest point that you can never imagine. There is another section she writes;
‘…I knew invisibility. I’d lived invisibility. I came from a history of invisibility. I liked to mention that I was the great -great – granddaughter of a slave named Jim Robinson, who was probably buried in an unmarked grave somewhere on a South Carolina plantation.’ (p. 445).
We see that when their time came, it put them in the national limelight. Do your thing, every day do something that improves you and chase what you love. Trust the process and don’t chase fame because when God has chosen you to walk in a particular path, the time will come whether you’re 60 or 50. You don’t need to compare your life with the life of others and I think that is something that I have to remind myself so much that we have different clocks.
17.Personal fulfilment is more important than money.
She had to move from law career to another organization where the salary was half what she was earning in law career despite the fact that she had debts to pay. I think personal fulfilment and doing what you love is more important. She didn’t put money as the first thing. Chase what you love and know that it fulfils you even if you earn less.
18. Everything that happens in your life happens for a reason
We see Michelle being exposed to politics at a very young age as Santita’s friend. So she seemed to learn from Santita about politics. This was not coincidence; God was preparing her for politics in the long run. Even when she became friends with Suzanne who never liked being neat. She later says she fell in love with a man who like Suzanne had never kept his belongings neat. She says;
‘Years later, I’d fall in love with a guy who, like Suzanne, stored his belongings in heaps and felt no compunction, really ever, to fold his clothes. But I was able to coexist with it, thanks to Suzanne. I am still coexisting with that guy to this day. This is what a control freak learns inside the compressed otherworld of college, maybe above all else: There are simply other ways of being.’ (p.93).
Another part she says about Obama that;
‘He’d grown up with far less stability than I had, but he didn’t lament it. His story was his story. His family life had left him self – reliant and curiously hardwired for optimism. The fact he’d navigated his unusual upbringing so successfully seemed only to reinforce the idea that he was ready to take on more.’ (p. 123)
We also see that Obama’s life had also prepared him to be self-reliant. Again she says;
‘Barack could pour his heart out through a pen. He’d been raised on letters, sustenance arriving in the form of wispy airmail envelopes from his mom in Indonesia. I, meanwhile, was an in-your-face sort of person—brought up on Sunday dinners at Southside’s, where you sometimes had to shout to be heard.’ (p.127).
Thus Obama started writing because that is how he was brought up.
It is imperative to note that all the projects that Obama involved himself with were meant to prepare him for the Presidency. Them ending up in the highest office in USA was not a coincidence – God had been preparing them in every journey such that Michelle and Obama were doing several community projects. This is to show every young person that it doesn’t matter whether they feel confused etc. every single thing that happens in your life do it with passion because it is preparing you. (You may not see it now but later on, it will give you the best experience to where God wants you to be. To prepare you for something greater).
They had different believes about marriage because of their upbringing but they had to come together and discussed it after which they sorted it out. Then she writes;
‘What happens when a solitude loving individualist marries an outgoing family woman who does not love solitude one bit? The answer, I’m guessing, is probably the best and most sustaining answer to nearly every question arising inside a marriage, no matter who you are or what the issue is: You find ways to adapt. If you’re in it forever, there’s really no choice.’ (p.176).
She also says;
‘If Barack’s disregard for punctuality had once been something I’d gently teased him about, it was now a straight-up aggravation.’ (p.208).
As you see they had indifferences. There is also a norm that Obama would say he is almost home and they would wai2t for hours;
She also asked a question sometimes;
‘Would sharing him with the state of Illinois really be all that different? I couldn’t know one way or another, but I also couldn’t bring myself to stand in the way of his aspiration, that thing always tugging at him to try for more. (p.216).
From all these we see they had differences and would always embrace them. Learn to embrace differences with your family or friends. You will always not reason the same because differences are going to be there due to the different upbringing. The most important thing is to understand each other and even in their case if things get a bit out of hand, look for counselling. (They had to go for counselling and from it Michelle took control of her happiness and it was Obama to catch up. She learnt that she was being unrealistic with some of the things and also Obama had to improve on his communication.) Find amicable ways to solve indifferences because it is very important. (In today’s generation, people just give up when there is a problem in a relationship). From the book, you can learn how to solve indifferences because of our different backgrounds.
20. Speak up.
‘I couldn’t be shy or embarrassed about my needs. I still had roughly $600 of student debt to pay off each month on top of my regular expenses, and I was married to a man with his own load of law school loans to cover. The organization’s leaders were almost disbelieving when I informed them how much I’d borrowed in order to get through school and what that translated to in terms of monthly debt, but they gamely went out and secured new funding that enabled me to come on board.’ (p. 182).
In another part she says;
‘I negotiated to come back only half-time, figuring this would be a win-win sort of arrangement—that I could now be both career woman and perfect mother, striking the Mary Tyler Moore/ Marian Robinson balance I’d always hoped for. (p.197).
‘I walked out of the interview feeling pleased and fairly certain I’d be offered the job. But no matter how it panned out, I knew I’d at least done something good for myself in speaking up about my needs. The was power, I felt, in just saying it out loud.’ (p. 206).
When they were campaigning she says;
‘I told Plouffe early on that while I was happy to campaign, part of the deal had to be that they’d get me back to Chicago in time to put the girls to bed at night.’ (p. 236).
I think this mostly applies to women or anyone: But if you look clearly Michelle knew exactly what she wanted and she would speak up i.e. When she needed an increase in salary, when she needed half-time in order to be a full mum and when she needed to be home to put the kids on the bed. Always speak up – you cannot know how much you would get until you speak up. Don’t just be afraid and keep quiet that if you ask people will think that you are too demanding – No, No, No. If you are a young woman, a woman or a man and you have your needs just speak up. It is very important because we can see as she negotiated her way up, she would always get what she wanted but that wouldn’t have come up if she didn’t speak up.
21. Be optimistic.
Whenever Michelle would ask Barack about something he would say ‘Don’t worry, we will figure it out’. There is also something that made me re-read it several times which was when she asked about how they will finance their campaign;
‘Well, I’ll write another book and it’ll be a big book, one that makes money. his made me laugh. Barack was the only person I knew who had this kind of faith, thinking that a book could solve any problem. He was like the little boy from “Jack and the Beanstalk,” I teased, who trades his family’s livelihood for a handful of magic beans, believing with his whole heart that they will yield something, even if no one else does.’ (p.216).
Barack saying that he would write a big book that would make money was a very high level of optimism. I salute him! She also writes;
‘He was dreading the thought of leaving me and the girls for long stretches, he said, but he also kept reminding me of how secure our love was. “We can handle this, right?” he said, holding my hand one night as we sat in his upstairs study and finally began to really talk about it. “We’re strong and we’re smart, and so are our kids. We’ll be just fine.’ (p.227).
As you see, Barack optimism is very admirable. She says;
‘It was about making politics better for the future—less money –driven, more accessible, and ultimately more hopeful. Even if we didn’t end up winning, we were making progress that mattered. One way or another, their work would count.’ (p.247).
They were so optimistic even if they were not going to win the polls they would make a change and make politics more affordable. When she had issues because people were attacking her, she talked with him and he said;
‘“Look, it’s because your crowds are so big,” he said. “You’ve become a force in the campaign, which means people are going to come after you a little. This is just the nature of things.”’ (p. 310).
Lastly, she says;
‘As he did pretty much every time we spoke, he thanked me for the time I was putting in, adding that he was sorry I had to deal with any fallout at all. “I love you, honey,” he told me, before hanging up. “I know this stuff is rough, but it’ll blow over. It always does.”’ (p.310).
Also when Michelle went to see some of the fighters in a hospital, there was that notice that says don’t go there pitying them. From the whole book, we note that Obama is very optimistic that things are going to work out whether they have money or not. I think is very important that if you are going to do anything, be optimistic. It is what kept the Obamas moving forward giving them hope.
22.Do small things every day that improves you and add value to you as a person.
This can be seen from;
‘Over years, I’d watched him inhale books, newspapers, and ideas, sparking to life anytime he spoke with someone who offered a shard of new experience or knowledge. He’d stowed every piece of it. What he was building, I see now, was a vision—and not a small one, either. It was the very thing I’d had to create room for in our shared life, to coexist with, even if reluctantly. It aggravated me sometimes no end, but it was also what I could never disavow in Barack. He’d been working at this thing, quietly and meticulously, as long as I’d known him. And now maybe the size of the audience would finally match the scope of what he believed to be possible. He’d been ready for that call. All he had to do was speak.’ (p. 218).
As observed, even when he went to give the speech that had put him in the national limelight, he had been reading and so he was ready. It is always good to do things that improves you every time: read newspapers, read books, write, research on the topics you are interested in, etc. When the time for Obama to go and speak in public came, he was ready for it. There is a part she says;
‘This was how Barack operated anyway. The more pressure he was under, the calmer he seemed to get. He’d written his remarks over the course of a couple of weeks, working on them in between Illinois senate votes. He memorized his words and rehearsed them carefully, to the point where he wouldn’t actually need the teleprompter unless his nerves got triggered and his mind went blank.’ (p.218).
Even before campaigns and giving speeches, he was always ready – he would read and practise thus sharpening his skills. If you want to be a leader in the next 30 years, you better start practising now as evidenced by the Obamas: all those things that happen were no coincidence, it was things he was ready for that is why he is eloquent. He would read, write and research.
23.It is not all about glamour and fame.
Leadership and any achievements come with those fair challenges. Let’s get this right, for anyone who know the Obamas, they are the ultimate couple. They have dogs, two beautiful girls, fame, leadership, eloquence, class, style etc. They have graced TV shows, magazines etc. Thus they are the kind of people we would wish to be because everyone is working towards something. After reading Michelle’s book, I realized that we all see the smiles and all that but there is so much beneath all that. It gives you a glimpse of what achievement is all about that. First, they have to give away their normal life and Michelle is being criticized for being too tall, too dark. She also labelled for being black angry woman. She is even criticized for minor things like her clothes. Obama is also criticized for choosing to stay with his sick girl Malia over going to vote. There are shootings after they won and even before they won. Michelle says;
‘He would later give an interview to a local paper, estimating that during the six or so months he campaigned for Congress, he spent less than four full days at home with me and Malia.’ (p.198).
‘Barack’s other opponent, a fellow state senator named Donne Trotter, took his own shots, telling a reporter that “to use your child as an excuse for not going to work also shows poorly on the individual’s character.” (p. 201).
‘A news chyron on the same network had referred to me as “Obama’s Baby Mama,” conjuring clichéd notions of black-ghetto America, implying an otherness that put me outside even my own marriage. I was getting worn out, not physically, but emotionally. The punches hurt, even if I understood that they had little to do with who I really was as a person. It was as if there were some cartoon version of me out there wreaking havoc, a woman I kept hearing about but didn’t know—a too-tall, too-forceful, ready-to-emasculate Godzilla of a political wife named Michelle Obama (p.312).
‘It occurred to me what a sad thing this was. Barack had lost his mother at the very genesis of his political career, two months after announcing his run for state senate. Now, as he reached its apex, his grandmother wouldn’t be around to witness it. The people who’d raised him were gone.’ (p.324).
There is also another part that a gunman walked into an elementary school and shot students. There was a girl was short at Chicago, etc. The lesson we learn from this is that if you see public figures on the screen and people who have achieved it, it’s not about fame and glamour. There is so much more they have had to endure to be where they are.
24.As a leader and person in any capacity; don’t just console, come up with solutions.
When Hadiya Pendleton was shot, Michelle invited the mother to the State of the Union speech a few days after the funeral. She also took some girls to White House and stayed with them. She would write letters to schools, give speeches, etc. She would become a mentor to young people. She even started projects for kids not to be obese. So, if you are a leaders or any position of influence just not offer solutions with words, try to come up with practical solutions where you can teach people about different things. I think that is the most important thing any leader would do. I really admire her for that – for coming up with solutions, for trying to relate with people. There is a part she says she went to listen to young students who had stories, she knew it wouldn’t help them but being there helped and she gave them words of encouragement. Whatever little capacity that you have, just go out there and do it.
25. You should not be afraid to call someone when they are wrong.
From her book, Michelle calls out Trump for the things that she thinks he didn’t do right. She also goes on to explain the things she thinks he would have done better as a leader. Especially in our society we have this situation where when someone rises in power we try to sugar-coat what they are doing but she is not afraid of calling him out and saying that he was a bully. If you are a leader and you get a chance to call someone else, please tell them your mind. Michelle is very outspoken and she really brings out what she thinks of Trump. (I found it hilarious at some point but she brought out her real emotions; at some point she had to stop smiling. It also shows that she is human and when you are a leader speak up when someone is not doing the right thing even if it is in a book or they are at a leadership position)
26.Tell your story.
‘So many of us go through life with our stories hidden, feeling ashamed or afraid when our whole truth doesn’t live up to some established ideal. We grow up with messages that tell us that there’s only one way to be American—that if our skin is dark or our hips are wide, if we don’t experience love in a particular way, if we speak another language or come from another country, then we don’t belong. That is, until someone dares to start telling that story differently. I grew up with a disabled dad in a too-small house with not much money in a starting-to-fail neighborhood, and I also grew up surrounded by love and music in a diverse city in a country where an education can take you far. I had nothing or I had everything. It depends on which way you want to tell it. (p.455).
She also writes;
‘There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.’ (p. 459).
It is important to share your story. Try to write your story differently and tell your story. Them trying to share their story with the world has inspired so many young people even someone like me who we’ve never met and I’m not even sure whether we will ever meet but it has inspired a lot of young people that you can come from nowhere to the greatest office. Share your story no matter how you feel it is not good, no matter how you feel it is very painful – share it because you don’t know who you are going to touch or who you are going to inspire.
27.It’s okay to be a minority or different.
Finally, the last one and the most important lesson I have learnt from the whole book it’s okay to be a minority. It’s okay to be different. Michelle is a black woman and the first black First Lady and throughout you can relate if you are minority. She says;
‘This is doable, of course—minority and underprivileged students rise to the challenge all the time—but it takes energy. It takes energy to be the only black person in a lecture hall or one of a few non-white people trying out for a play or joining an intramural team. It requires effort, an extra level of confidence, to speak in those settings and own your presence in the room…I was cautious. I stuck to what I knew. It’s hard to put into words what sometimes you pick up in the ether, the quiet, cruel nuances of not belonging—the subtle cues that tell you to not risk anything, to find your people and just stay put’ (p. 87 – 88).
For all the lessons that I have summarized, this was the most personal to me for many reasons that I will summarize later. I am a minority in several ways that I have really struggled to fit in. I don’t like bringing it out – I sort of hide it but have some aspects about my life that put me in a minority side and I have really struggled. However, after reading her story and the way she puts it; it’s okay – you can try to write the narrative differently. I might be a minority in one way or another but it doesn’t make me different: I can be the first lady with such a challenge which I will share later. Michelle takes us through a journey of having a father with a disability, of growing up in Chicago and being told she doesn’t belong. She rises through all these to become not just a First Lady but a phenomenal woman who preaches hope and love.
What I can advise any young person is that if you have watched this video to the end, thank you very much and the most important thing is that it is okay to be a minority/different. It is okay to have challenges that put you aside. It is okay not to belong. It does not limit your greatness. It should actually inspire you to strive higher and higher to be the greatest that God created you to be. You should not be limited by who you are.
If you watched to this video to the end, I want to tell you: Thank you very much. It is a book 466 pages. If you have not taken time to read that book please do, it will inspire you in so many ways. I had to read it 3 or 4 times and that’s when I decided that I should a summary about it.
I think we should share more on becoming vibe.
Become the phenomenal woman that God created you. Become the phenomenal man that God made you. Become the First Lady. Become President. Become a Doctor. Become that professional you would want to be. Become the News Anchor. Become the next Oprah (yes, hi Oprah…). Become whatever that God created you to be. You can always be; it doesn’t matter where you come from. It just needs your resilience and to do small things