A few months ago, my sister-in-law sent out a text asking who wanted to go see Michelle Obama. I said I'd be interested, mainly because I like spending time with the women in my family and thought this would be a fun outing. The day came around and I was excited, but only moderately so. We met for dinner, walked in chilly, crisp air to the venue, waiting in a LONG and disorganized line to get in, and took our seats just as the lights dimmed to start the show.
I'm not one to get starstruck. If I saw a celebrity on the street, I would look with interest, but I wouldn't scream and swoon and beg for autographs. However, I will fully admit that I was taken aback by Michelle Obama. I can't even explain the extent of her kindness, passion, humor and authenticity. You cannot fake that. She is a truly lovely person.
Luckily, my mother in law had some notecards so that I could furiously scribble notes to share with you. Michelle's message was simple and to be honest, nothing new. However, her delivery and the parallels to what I'm finding in my coaching practice were powerful. Her book, Becoming, (which I have not yet read in its entirety), is about the continual journey to authentically become your best self. As a coach, I have honed in on the "Big A" words: Awareness, Authenticity, Action, Accountability, and Abundance. I truly believe that many people jump from awareness to action without spending enough time getting in touch with their authentic selves. People take action based on their observations of others and often end up right back where they started because that action is not in line with their true values or core selves. Michelle Obama's message centered around the importance of "reaching continually toward a better self"...in other words, on becoming who you are truly and uniquely capable of being.
Here are some of the biggest take aways from her talk:
I don't want this post to get too long, but she had so many gems, it's hard to pick the best ones. However, one last message resonated with me, and it relates to the first bullet point of hope versus fear. It's important to mention that she did not at any point say one nasty or cruel or insulting comment about anybody (except for teasingly calling Barack a few names when talking about challenging times in their marriage). While she has been dragged through the mud, she never stooped to the level of insults or name calling. In fact, she said, "when they go low, we go high." Furthermore, when talking about her very public time in the White House and all the interactions she had in her role as First Lady, she said the following: "At our core, I saw this country for all its beauty and tolerance and openness. It made me hopeful and it continues to make me hopeful." This speaks to the fact that our brain will find evidence to support our thinking. If she chose, she could easily find evidence of a closed off, hateful world. She's been called an "ape in heels," for goodness sakes. But she chooses to see the good and the hopeful. She also said, "It is our stories and our day to day connectedness that defines us. It's hard to hate up close." Ponder that, my friends.