When Barack Obama became president in 2008, little did we know that the First Lady would become an icon and role model in her own right. From her inspiration public speeches to her amazing arms (talk about arm candy!), Michelle Obama quickly became a First Lady to be reckoned with.
Currently on a book tour to promote her new memoir, Becoming, we’ve fallen in love all over again. It got us to thinking, if we were all a little more Michelle in our life, perhaps we could also achieve great things. So next time you have a dilemma, just think WWMD (What Would Michelle Do)…
Know your priorities
“At the end of the day, my most important title is still 'mom-in-chief.' My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the centre of my world.”
As women we wear so many hats every day and it’s easy to get super stressed about juggling everything, so be more Michelle, and focus on those that really matter to you. The rest is just the stuff you have to do to live – it’s your priorities that give life meaning.
Laugh at yourself
“I’m kind of sarcastic!”
From mum dancing on Jimmy Fallon to singing with James Corden on Carpool Karaoke, Michelle has never been afraid to show her silly side. When times get tough, whether at work or at home, being able to laugh at it and the situation, will definitely help see you through to the other side.
Lead by example
“Lead by example with hope; never fear.”
During her time as FLOTUS, Michelle was never afraid to get stuck in with many of her initiatives. Leading by example doesn’t mean big gestures – show your kids that technology doesn’t rule by switching off your phone, show your colleagues that collaboration is vital by listening to their thoughts… you get the idea.
Always set your sights high…
“Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude.”
Michelle went to Princeton even though some of her teachers tried to dissuade her from applying, believing she was setting her sights too high! Thank god she didn’t listen - so when people try to tell you you’re wrong, perhaps do it anyway and prove THEM wrong instead!
… But be realistic
“Marriage still ain’t equal. I tell women that whole ‘you can have it all’ - mmm, nope, not at the same time, that’s a lie.”
When Barrack first started down the road to Presidency, Michelle wasn’t convinced that it was the right move for them. However, she supported him, even though it meant giving up her highly paid job to take on First Lady duties. While we’d like to think life is give and take, sometimes it will be all take – accept it and make the best of it.
Use the bad times to motivate you
“Instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage or exhaust you, let them inspire you. Let them make you even hungrier to succeed.”
The death of Michelle’s father in 1991 left a “hole in her heart” but his loss has motivated her to succeed every day. The truth is, that being human we will all suffer loss and bad times, but the secret is not to let these take your life down a negative path. Channel the pain, live life for those who have gone and you’ll achieve more than you could ever imagine!
Don’t be afraid to fail
“Failing is a crucial part of success. Every time you fail and get back up. You practice perseverance, which is the key to life. Your strength comes in your ability to recover.”
It may look like Michelle has lived a gilded life, but just like us, she’s gone through ups and downs from a miscarriage early in her marriage to Barrack to being bashed by the press as First Lady. What doesn’t kill you, really does make yourself stronger so next time something doesn’t go your way, take a deep breath and get back out there.
Pay it forward
"When you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed."
Michelle believes deeply in encouraging young people with their learning and continues to inspire the younger generation. You might not be able to address classrooms full of school children with inspirational speeches, but there are so many other ways to pay it forward. Got a talent? Share your skills within the community. Love reading? Go to a primary school and read to them. Got spare time? Volunteer for a charity. Not only will you be helping others, but that rosy glow feeling of giving something back will also keep you feeling warm for a long time.
Surround yourself with like-minded people
“Walk away from friendships that make you feel small and insecure, and seek out people who inspire you and support you.”
Sadly our contact list does not include high profile friends like Oprah Winfrey and Missy Elliot, but we’re totally on board with Michelle’s theory of only having supportive pals. No one has the right to make you feel guilty or bad for making certain decisions – cut those moaning minnies out of your life and instead find those people who will make you feel special and loved.