“I enjoy reading biographies because I want to know about the people who messed up the world.” - Marie Dressler
I’ve never been huge on biographies or memoirs. Wikipedia and IMDb have served as my stalking tools of choice. However, there was one that I couldn’t escape reading everywhere I turned -- Michelle Obama’s Becoming. This book changed me.
Typically, I read a minimum of two to three books at a given time (I get bored quickly and require lots of projects to keep any interest going), but while reading Becoming, at some point, it became the only book I was reading. Please let the record state that I’m back to reading three books, currently.
Also, I’m a serial “bunny ear over bookmarks” type of person. Although reading Obama’s book, I started using a bookmark! Let the record state that I’m still currently using a marker for one of the books I’m reading!
In all seriousness, journeying with Michelle was so personal and encouraging as she found her voice.
A few key takeaways for me and why I encourage (and have even forced!) others to read this work are as follows.
”If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s the power of using your voice.” / “If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.” -- Michelle Obama, Becoming
I received some fantastic advice that goes hand in hand with Michelle Obama’s quotes -- “never suffer in silence.” It was about standing up for myself in the workplace and being willing to voice my opinions. As a person who avoids conflict, this has been challenging. However, not saying something and that resulting in others defining me is a risk I’m not willing to take. Although I’ve only been in my role for a few months, I’ve already started putting this into practice, which has resulted in favorable decisions.
“Failure is a feeling long before it’s an actual result.” -- Michelle Obama, Becoming
Michelle demonstrates that “having a lot to say” and saying it is so important. Sometimes, we’re placed in uncomfortable positions, fear lingering in the background, or thrust into a spotlight where we don’t feel we should be or even feel we’re experienced enough to be. Using the strength of who you are, remaining positive, and making the best of a situation goes a long way.
“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.” -- Michelle Obama, Becoming
I recently finished an Executive Leadership Summit, and we discussed our personal brands. Personal brands and your personal story go hand in hand and can assist in helping you “make decisions based on hope and possibility” instead of fear.
“You reach back and give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” -- Michelle Obama, Becoming
I’ve always felt that it was imperative to be a resource to others, whether in their careers or financially. Some of my closest friends know that I’m willing to discuss investment strategies or higher education. However, it’s through working within management and mentoring that I’ve had the most fulfilling opportunities to help others succeed. Providing them with resources, (usually most importantly) listening to what’s concerning them, or offering counsel, are opportunities that Obama illuminated that we could probably all pour more into.
“Success isn’t about how your life looks to others. It’s about how it feels to you.” -- Michelle Obama, Becoming
Even after finishing Becoming, this quote still comes to mind regularly. What does Success feel like to me? With images of wealth flooding our social media accounts, it sometimes feels that having money is the only way to succeed. It certainly doesn’t hurt! However, I continue to soul search on this one, and I encourage others to do the same!
There were so many other incredible easter eggs throughout her book, and I genuinely hope you’ll take some time to check it out!