Michelle Obama became the first African-American First Lady in U.S. history – all while the odds were firmly stacked against her and her husband and through her role in the White House it became clear that there is something about Michelle many people loved and admired.
Infact, in the final Gallup poll published in the Washington Post at the moment the couple were packing up their bags and leaving the White House, the First Lady was so loved, her popularity surpassed Barack’s at the end of his term.
She stood out as one of the most passionate and accomplished First Ladies in history because of her charisma, compassion and powerful speech-making, but even before Michelle’s rise to fame during her time in the White House, she was already an accomplished lawyer, writer and community activist.
The former First Lady spoke at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, Connecticut where she encapsulated in six short words the key to being truly successful:
“Focus on what you can control.” When you direct your attention to things you can’t control, you waste your energy. However, when you focus on what you can control, you move closer to your goals.”
“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals,” she said.
She achieved several important milestones while in the White House, such as passing a bipartisan School Lunch program to provide free and reduced-price meals to more than 20 million low-income children.
In 2014, she also launched the Reach Higher Initiative to inspire young people across the country to put their education first. She also launched the Let Girls Learn initiative to fund girls’ education projects tackling everything from leadership to poverty.
To truly lead and inspire others means standing up for what you believe in and living by your values – regardless of opposing views or fear of rocking the “status quo” boat. In a 2015 commencement speech at Tuskegee University, she reminded black students to stay strong and persevere against the odds.
Michelle’s stance on social issues made her an iconic figure – and will remain her legacy. “There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made,” she said.
Work asided, Michelle Obama understands the importance of finding the right work-life balance. Rather than feel inundated with calendar requests, she recently said the secret to being happy and healthy is allowing herself to enjoy “me time.”
No matter what her accomplishments, which include raising her children, Malia and Natasha, Michelle has always made it a priority to manage her time so she could focus on what was most important to her. Her children are always at the top of that list.
Obama has come to understand the bright side of focusing on herself first. “I’ve learned that when I actually put myself on the priority list along with everyone else in my life, it actually benefits them, too,” she said.
During last year’s inaugural Obama Foundation Summit, Obama said that being “ruthlessly efficient” and “fiercely organised” were key to getting anything done.
“I have to plan my happiness. That’s the thing, we think happiness just happens and it can, but you’ve got to work in some happiness too,” she said at the Summit.