A couple of months ago I got a message from my best mate Sarah. ‘Fancy this…?’ it said. ‘This’ being; ‘Becoming: An Intimate Audience with Michelle Obama’. A resounding yes from me and two minutes later we had tickets and last night was the big night.
I’ve always admired what I’ve seen of Michelle Obama; she seems an incredibly classy woman; appeared to work tirelessly for various campaigns whilst at the White House; is an incredible support to her family and well, has this huge sense of fun (her Carpool Karaoke was fantastic!)
Before Michelle was introduced a couple of films about her life were played; and even in that ten minutes you couldn’t help feeling empowered by her – born to working class parents who were her and her brother’s biggest supporters (name checked later as being the sole reason for being who she is today); her drive to have the same academic career as her brother; her committed approach to working as hard as she could to get the life she wanted; her devotion to making the world a better place; and ultimately doing it all with style, grace and laughter.
There was also a super film featuring a hugely diverse group of adults and children saying what they have or want to become; things that seem big and things that seem simple but all personal to those individuals. I loved watching this and it reminded me a little of me a couple of years ago (and reiterated in my 2019 goals) when I said ‘I want to become self-employed and work with companies who hold the same values as me.’
Michelle comes across as a lady who whilst takes her work seriously doesn’t always take herself too seriously! She appears to be more than happy to add her humour and fun for serious causes. As part of the compilation film there were a number of instances where she’s dancing; doing impersonations; acting like a fool slam dunking basketballs and all of it appears truly authentic – which is a natural skill only a few leaders truly seem to have.
I imagine some of you are reading her book so I don’t want to give too much away however, much of the conversation was spent talking about how the Obamas made it to the White House (and to clarify, she was just as popular as him, so much so that they rarely appeared together to speak on the campaign trail because it would have been ‘wasted resource’ to have them both in the same place when they could be in two). She talked about the sacrifices they made, the abuse and criticism they received, the lessons they learned and how they kept themselves (and their kids) living as normal a life as they could.
This statement really resonated with me:
‘Becoming President / First Lady doesn’t change you;
It reveals you’
She meant that in time of increased pressure; with rare moments to call your own you’re likely to react naturally – if you’ve been putting on a game face that will soon show through – once again authenticity is key to success.
I’m pretty sure every one of the 15,000 strong audience last night took away different things from almost two hours of open, honest and inspirational conversation with the previous First Lady. As well as being authentic these are the other messages that resonated with me most; probably because I like to think I’m attempting to live by them already…
• Change is happening; it’s up to us how we deal with it or influence it
• If you want to succeed, work hard and don’t be complacent
• Take control of your own message
• Don’t listen to what people tell you can’t do; keep striving for what you know you can and want to do
• Be nice.
They’re not so difficult now are they? And well… just look at what she became…