11 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama life lessons

Flickr/World Bank Photo Collection

Michelle Obama may have released her book “Becoming” in November 2018, but she started dropping knowledge years before that. There’s so much we can learn from her as a lawyer, businesswoman, mother, First Lady and overall fierce female. Below are just a few life lessons we’ve picked up from her speeches, book and interviews. She’s a wise woman when it comes to careers, family and more, and we hope she never stops offering us life advice.

1. Treat people with dignity and respect no matter what.

Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago, overcoming adversity at an early age. As she told her story at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, she reminded us that life will be challenging, more so at certain times than others. But we need to continue holding ourselves to higher standards and treat others with dignity and respect.

2. When they go low, we go high.

In 2016, just weeks before the election, Obama gave a powerful speech in New Hampshire. A large life lesson she hammered home? No matter what people say or how they treat you and act, continue taking the high road. Whether it’s with toxic friendships or bosses that drive you insane, don’t stoop to their level. Stick to your morals and values, continue treating them with dignity and respect, and then take the high road.

3. Stop caring about what others think.

Michelle Obama

Flickr/Fortune Conferences

Obama’s story presented in “Becoming” is a powerful one. As a young girl, she often cared what others thought of her and she let that guide some of her choices and decisions. While on the campaign trail and eventually in the role of First Lady, she was in the spotlight often. She cared a lot about what others thought, but she finally let it go and learned to trust her gut. If we can learn to trust ourselves and have faith that the decisions we make in life are right for us, then we shouldn’t worry about what others think.

4. Try not to worry about the punches.

While in the spotlight, Obama endured every type of criticism. In “Becoming,” she relates this back to when she was a child and a classmate of hers punched her when she least expected it. Before the punch, she was fully engaged in whatever she was doing in her classroom, unaware of anything negative coming her way. As an adult, she trusted she was doing what she felt to be right, even if it ended up being dissected on the evening news. Regardless of the instance, don’t worry about the punches that may come your way. Obama didn’t and she lived a much happier life because of it. We can and should do the same.

5. Everyone has doubters.

With that last lesson in place, it’s also important to know that everyone has doubters. Obama had doubters who didn’t think she could get into Princeton University. She also had doubters while on the campaign trail endorsing her husband for president. No matter who we are, we’ll always have doubters — those people who don’t believe in us or what we’re doing. But we’re not alone in having them and we can, and should, all push them out of our minds. Don’t let any doubters keep you from moving toward your goals.

6. Work hard for what you want in life.

Michelle Obama

Flickr/Gage Skidmore

At the 2008 Democratic National Convention, 10 years before sharing her full story with us in her book, Obama hammered home a lesson she learned early on: work hard for what you want in life. Hard work goes a long way in achieving what you want. Whether it’s a law degree, a dream job, paying down student loans or buying a home, you can achieve it all through hard work.

7. There are simply other ways of being.

Throughout her book, Obama makes it clear that she is a very detail-oriented person. If that’s you, then you’ll surely relate to the ways in which she lives her life. However, it’s also important to know that not everyone is like that. Interestingly, Barack Obama is much different than the former First Lady, but she was able to respect his way of doing things (even if they were grand and maybe a little messy) because she learned that there are simply other ways of being. Whether you’re detail-oriented or a total type B personality, respect the different types of people that surround you. They all bring something unique to the table and can help us all be better people.

8. Your word is your bond.

This lesson comes again from Obama’s powerful speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, though it’s surely something she’s lived by and taught her daughters for years prior. It’s important to say what you mean and keep your word. Whether it’s a promise or a statement, your word is your bond to others. It’s a reflection of your character and builds trust and respect among the people around you. Think hard about your word and stand behind it because once it’s said, you can’t take it back.

9. Growing up isn’t finite.

Michelle Obama

Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture

When Obama was a child, she told people she wanted to be a pediatrician. Once in college, she decided to become a lawyer. In her 20s, Obama moved on to work in nonprofits. Now, she’s a former First Lady of the United States and an author. In her book, she tells us to always remember that growing up isn’t finite. There’s no one answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You’re allowed to be multiple things throughout your life. Embrace the changes you make and understand that your path isn’t straight and narrow, and that’s completely okay.

10. Life is better when you measure the warmth.

Whatever you do in life, consider how it makes you feel. Obama explains in her book that success from landing a job or winning an election can feel good, but those successes can also be cold. They’re nothing compared to those moments that make you feel warm inside — like when you just know with your full being that life is as it should be. Don’t measure your life only in achievements. Keep track of the moments that make you feel full and warm, too, and you’ll know you’re moving in the right direction.

11. Your story is your own.

Between her speeches, her book and every moment in her life, Obama has taught us one undying life lesson through it all: Our stories are our own. Obama’s story is hers and only hers. She crafted it in the best way she knew how and she’s continuing to shape it in the way she wants. You should do the same. With hard work, good morals, respect, faith and the people you love surrounding you, you can achieve the story you’ve always wanted to write. It’s your life, so live it in the best way you know how.

Michelle Obama is a wise woman who we’ll surely continue learning from for years to come. If you have a favorite life lesson from this former First Lady, we’d love to hear it. Share it with us by emailing [email protected]


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