Experience. Facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.
You got to be open to taking some risks and not being afraid to fail.
I want you all to stay true to the most real, most sincere, most authentic parts of yourselves.
Michelle Obama’s Top 10 Rules For Success
Evan: She’s an American lawyer, writer, and first lady of the United States of America.
She is married to the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, and was the first African American First Lady.
She has become a fashion icon, role model for women, and advocate of poverty awareness.
She’s Michelle Obama and here’s my take on her top 10 rules for success.
As usual, as you watch if there’s something that she says that you really, really love leave it in the comments below, put quotes around it as well so that other people can be inspired as well.
Michelle Obama’s Rules
- Keep Moving Forward
- Be Authentic
- Work Hard
- Don’t Be Afraid To Fail
- Choose Your Own Path
- Earn Success
- Take Your Role Seriously
- Enjoy The Balance
- Do What Is Hard
- Have Fun
- Ignore the noise
- Love what you do
- Know who you are
Rule #1. Keep Moving Forward
Some of you have been homeless. Some of you have risked the rejection of your families to pursue your education. Many of you have lain awake at night wondering how on earth you were going to support your parents and your kids and still pay tuition.
And many of you know what it’s like to live not just month to month or day to day, but meal to meal. But graduates, let me tell you you should never, ever be embarrassed by those struggles. You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage.
Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages and I know that because I’ve seen it myself not just as a student working my way through school but years later when I became After I, Before I came to the White House and I worked as a dean in a college.
The resilience and the maturity that you need to pick yourself up
In that role, I encountered students who had every advantage. Their parents paid their full tuition. They lived in beautiful campus dorms. They had every material possession a college kid could want. Cars, computers, spending money. But when some of them got their first bad grade, they just fell apart.
They lost it because they were ill equipped to handle their first encounter with disappointment or falling short. But graduates, as you all know, life will put many obstacles in your path that are far worse than a bad grade. You’ll have unreasonable bosses and difficult clients and patients.
You’ll experience illnesses and losses, crises and setbacks that will come out of nowhere and knock you off your feet, but unlike so many other young people, you have already developed the resilience and the maturity that you need to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep moving through the pain. Keep moving forward.
Rule #2. Be Authentic
Next, I’ve always felt a deep sense of obligation to make the biggest impact possible with this incredible platform, so I took on issues that were personal to me. Issues like helping families raise healthier kids, honoring the incredible military families that I’ve met out on the campaign trail, inspiring our young people to value their education and finish college.
Now, some folks criticize my choices for not being bold enough, but these were my choices, my issues, and I decided to tackle them in a way that felt most authentic to me, in a way that was both substantive and strategic, but also fun and hopefully inspiring so I immersed myself in the policy details.
It did not define me
I worked with Congress on legislation, gave speeches to CEO’s, military generals, Hollywood executives, but I also worked to ensure that my efforts would resonate with kids and families and that meant doing thing in a creative and unconventional way.
So yeah, I planted a garden and hula hooped on the White House lawn with kids. I did some mom dancing on TV. I celebrated military kids with Kermit the Frog. I asked folks across the country to wear their alma mater’s t-shirts for college signing day.
And at the end of the day, by staying true to the me I’ve always known I found that this journey has been incredibly freeing because no matter what happened, I had the peace of mind of knowing that all of the chatter, the name calling, the doubting, all of it was just noise.
It did not define me. It didn’t change who I was. And most importantly, it couldn’t hold me back. I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values and follow my own moral compass, than the only expectations I need to live up to are my own. So graduates-
Rule #3. Work Hard
You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn’t have much in the way of money or material possessions, but who had given us something far more valuable. Their unconditional love. Their unflinching sacrifice and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.
My father was a pump operator at the city water plant and he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when my brother and I were young and even as a kid, I knew there were plenty of days when he was in pain and I knew there were plenty of mornings when it was a struggle for him to simply get out of bed, but every morning I watched my father wake up with a smile, you know, grab his walker, prop himself up against the bathroom sink and slowly shave and button his uniform and when he returned home after a long day’s work, my brother and I would stand at the top of the stairs of our little apartment patiently waiting to greet him, watching as he reached down to lift one leg and then the other to slowly climb his way into our arms but despite these challenges, my dad hardly ever missed a day of work.
He and my mom were determined to give me and my brother the kind of education they could only dream of.
“You got to be open to taking some risks and not being afraid to fail. Failure is the key to success” – Michelle Obama
Rule #4. Don’t Be Afraid To Fail
Interviewer: What has been the best advice you received from your teacher or professor?
Oh, I’ve gotten a lot of great advice from teachers, mentors, professors throughout the years. So, first of all, you got to be open to taking some risks and not being afraid to fail. Failure is the key to success so when you get to college, you got to raise your hand.
You have to be engaged. Don’t be the kid thinking, well, I shouldn’t be here and maybe I’m not smart enough and maybe, you know, no. You are more than capable of going to college, being successful and going on, doing whatever you want in life. I sit here because I am you all.
There is no difference between me and you. Working class kid growing up on the South Side of Chicago, growing up with doubts and fears just like all of you all do. I know exactly how you all are feeling and kids out there who are thinking maybe I’m not ready.
Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I can’t afford it. But what teachers and mentors have told me is that, yes you can and you must. So get in there and be bold with your intelligence. Raise your hand. Get support when you need it and know that we all got here because somebody helped us.
Rule #5. Choose Your Own Path
I want you all to stay true to the most real, most sincere, most authentic parts of yourselves. I want you to ask those basic questions. Who do you want to be? What inspires you? How do you want to give back? And then I want you to take a deep breath and trust yourselves to chart your own course and make your mark on the world.
Maybe it feels like you’re supposed to go to law school, but what you really want to do is teach little kids. Maybe your parents are expecting you to come back home after you graduate, but you’re feeling a pull to travel the world.
I want you to listen to those thoughts. I want you to act with both your mind, but also your heart. And no matter what path you choose, I want you to make sure it’s you choosing it and not someone else.
Rule #6. Earn Success
We learned about dignity and decency, that how hard you work matters more than how much you make, that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.
We learned about honesty and integrity, that the truth matters, that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules. And success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.
“I want you all to stay true to the most real, most sincere, most authentic parts of yourselves. I want you to ask those basic questions. Who do you want to be?” – Michelle Obama
Rule #7. Take Your Role Seriously
Interviewer: Do you feel like, and I’m sure you did feel, pressure to be the first African American First Lady to, there’s some kind of responsibility or …
Well, one of the things I know from sitting in this position that every First Lady feels some level of pressure. I mean, this is a big platform and you don’t want to mess it up. So I wouldn’t dare to compare my experience to any former First Lady, but I do take the role seriously.
I do, as I said in my convention speech, I know that kids are watching us and watching what we say, what we do, and Barack and I have tried to make sure that what kids are seeing is something that they can be proud of because it matters.
Rule #8. Enjoy The Balance
You’re getting advice from around the world, it seems. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie Blair. Did you happen to hear or read what she said?
Barbara: Well, she warns that you will have to learn to take a back seat and you will not be able to have any kind of a career and she says that that will be a very difficult thing to do.
Yeah, I think it just depends on the person. I have never been the kind of person who’s defined myself by a career or a job. I just never have. People used to ask me that during the course of the campaign. Is it hard for you to step off the track and devote your life to his dream? But the truth is is that I believe in this man as our president and his vision for the country and if that meant, you know, stepping away from my particular job for a year and a half or for four or for eight years if you do what you’re supposed to do, then, you know, that’s a small sacrifice to make.
And it’s enough to keep you fulfilled?
Oh, well I’ve got these great kids too. I mean, and the truth is, and Barack knows this about me. I love kids and I love my kids and this isn’t to say anyone who’s working doesn’t, but I enjoy the balance of having a job and having a set of projects and being able to have times to make sure that I’m in the girls’ lives and making sure that we have time as a family. I mean, that’s a full plate. I don’t view myself as being in a position where I’m twiddling my thumbs and wondering how am I going to get through the day. I’ve never experienced that in my life.
Rule #9. Do What Is Hard
We are playing a long game here and that change is hard and change is slow and it never happens all at once, but eventually we get there. We always do. We get there because of folks like my dad, folks like Barack’s grandmother.
Men and women who said to themselves, I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams, but maybe my children will. Maybe my grandchildren will. See, so many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice and longing and steadfast love because time and again they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard.
“You’ll experience illnesses and losses, crises and setbacks that will come out of nowhere and knock you off your feet, but unlike so many other young people, you have already developed the resilience and the maturity that you need to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep moving through the pain. Keep moving forward.” – Michelle Obama
Rule #10. Have Fun
♫ All the single ladies ♫ All the single ladies ♫ All the single ladies put your hands up ♫ Up in the club, ♫ Just broke up ♫ Doing my own little thing ♫ You decided to dip ♫ And now you want to trip ♫ ‘Cause another brother noticed me ♫ I’m up on him ♫ He up on me ♫ Don’t pay him any attention ♫ ‘Cause I cried my tears for three good years ♫ You can’t be mad at me ♫ ‘Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it ♫ If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it ♫ Don’t be mad once you see that he want it ♫ If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it ♫ Oh, oh, oh ♫ Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♫ Oh, oh, oh ♫ Oh, oh, oh ♫ Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♫ Oh, oh, oh ♫ ‘Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it ♫ If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it ♫ Don’t be made once you see that he want it ♫ ‘Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it ♫ I got gloss on my lips ♫ A man on my hips ♫ Got me tighter than my Dereon jeans ♫ Acting up ♫ Drink in my cup ♫ I can care less what you think ♫ I need no permission ♫ Did I mention ♫ Don’t pay him any attention ♫ ‘Cause you had your turn ♫ But now you gon’ learn ♫ What it really feels like to miss me ♫ ‘Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it ♫ If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it ♫ Don’t be mad once you see that he want it ♫ ‘Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it ♫ Oh, oh, oh ♫ Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♫ Oh, oh, oh ♫ Oh, oh, oh ♫ Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♫ Oh, oh, oh
James: Oh, I mean Beyonce.
Woo, what can we say?
We were both fully in the Bey-hive right there.
We just dropped the mic.
Swear to God. We were making honey in the Bey-hive.
We were in the Bey-hive.
We were making honey to put in our lemonade. Right there in that little pink sack. Yes.
Child: How old are you?
How old are you? I’m 51. What does that mean? What’s that look? Say that again. Give her the mic.
What was that, babe? I didn’t hear you.
Child: You’re too young for a 51 year old.
Thank you. You should come up and give me a hug. Come on up here. Come on, give me a hug for that one.
Thank you guys so much for watching. I made this video because Sweet Cherry asked me to so if there’s a famous entrepreneur that you want me to profile next, leave it in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do.
I’d also love to know which of the 10 rules had the biggest impact on you and why. What did you learn from this? What are you going to change as a result of watching this video? Leave in the comments and I’ll join in the discussion.
I also want to give a quick shout out to Cassandra L. DeLuca. Cassandra, thank you so much for buying my book. Really means a lot to me.
Those of you watching and you want a chance at a shout out in a future video, make sure to pick up a copy of the book and email in your receipt so we can keep track. Thank you guys so much for watching. Continue to believe or whatever your one word is and I’ll see you soon.
Ignore The Noise
And let me tell you, you should feel so proud of making it to this day and I hope that you’re excited to get started on that next chapter, but I also imagine that you might think about all of that history, all those heroes who came before you and you might also feel a little pressure, you know.
Pressure to live up to the legacy of those who came before you. Pressure to meet the expectations of others. And believe me, I understand that kind of pressure. I’ve experienced a little bit of it myself. You see graduates, I didn’t start out as the full formed First Lady who stands before you today.
No, no, I had my share of bumps along the way. Back when my husband first started campaigning for president, folks had all sorts of questions of me. What kind of First Lady would I be? What kinds of issues would I take on? Would I be more like Laura Bush or Hilary Clinton or Nancy Reagan?
And the truth is those same questions would have been posed to any candidate’s spouse. That’s just the way the process works. But as potentially the first African American First Lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations, conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others.
Have faith in God’s plan for me
Was I too loud or too angry or too emasculating? Or was I too soft? Too much of a mom? Not enough of a career woman? Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover. It was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge Afro and a machine gun.
Now yeah, it was satire but if I’m really being honest that knocked me back a bit. It made me wonder, well, just how are people seeing me? Or you might remember the onstage celebratory fist bump between me and my husband after a primary win that was referred to as a terrorist fist jab.
And over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited a little bit of uppity-ism. Another noted that I was one of my husband’s cronies of color. Cable news charmingly referred to me as Obama’s baby mama.
And, of course, Barack has endured his fair share of insults and slights. Even today there are still folks questioning his citizenship. And all of this used to really get to me.
Back in those days, I had a lot of sleepless nights worrying about what people thought of me, wondering if I might be hurting my husband’s chances of winning his election, fearing how my girls would feel if they found out what some people were saying about their mom, but eventually I realized that if I wanted to keep my sanity and not let others define me, there was only one thing I could do and that was to have faith in God’s plan for me. I had to ignore all of the noise and be true to myself and the rest would work itself out.
Love What You Do
Interviewer: Because we know how difficult your husband’s job is. What are the difficulties of being the First Lady?
You know, I find it really hard, in the face of what he’s going through and what I see happening to folks when they’re struggling, for me to even begin to complain.
I have the best job because I don’t have to make the hard decisions. The issues that I pick are ones that I feel passionately about. I get to pick and choose what I do which is why, you know, I love what I do. I get to spend time in this country traveling around, meeting-
You see me. I’m jumping rope and hula hooping.
Barack: It’s true.
So it’s hard for me knowing, you know, how, you know, what struggle is to even answer that with a straight face.
Know Who You Are
You know, one of the things that I always, I tell my mentees, I tell my daughters, is that our first job in life as women, I think, is to get to know ourselves and I think a lot of times we don’t do that . We spend our time pleasing, satisfying, looking out into the world to define who we are, listening to the messages, the images, the limited definitions that people have of who we are and that’s true for women of color, for sure.
There is a limited box that we are put in and if we live by that limited definition, we miss out on a lot of who we are but it takes taking the time to know who you are to be able to deal with the onslaught of negative messages that you’re bound to get.
So for me, I came into this with a pretty clear sense of myself and some of that comes with age, some of that comes with experience, some of that comes from being fortune enough to have been raised by a loving mother, strong, focused, and a father who loved me dearly so I fortunately came into this situation with a really clear sense of who I was.
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