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9 Life Lessons We Learned From Michelle Obama On Self-Worth, Squad Goals & Success

Workin’ Girl

Michelle Obama has the keys to success in every aspect of your life.


Back in June, the First Lady sat down with Oprah Winfrey at the United State of Women Summit and had a candid chat that every woman striving for betterment should watch!

The two very powerful ladies touched on key topics including confidence, mentorship, knowing your value, surviving the haters, giving back, and expectations from men. 

While the entire convo is a must watch (see below for the clip), here are Michelle's topmoments.

1. As women we need to figure out who we are first before the world does it for us

"One of the things I tell my mentees, I tell my daughters, is that our first job in life as women I think, is to get to know ourselves. I think a lot of times we don't do that. We spend our time pleasing, satisfying, looking out into the world to define who we are. Listening to the messages, the images, the limited definitions that people have of who we are. That's true for women of color for sure. There is a limited box that we are put in and if we live by that limited definition, we miss out on a lot of who we are. It takes taking the time to know who you are to be able to deal with the onslaught of negative messages that you're bound to get."

[Tweet "Our first job in life as women is to get to know ourselves. - FLOTUS"]

2. We should only surround ourselves with friends that lift us higher

"I always tell young girls, surround yourself with goodness. I learned early on how to get the haters out of my life. You've got to just sort of, surround yourself with people who lift you, who hold you up. For whatever reason - I was lucky I had people, I had parents who held me up. If you don't have that parent, that mother, that father, then you've got to find it. You've got to find those people because they're out there. I tell my mentees, there is somebody out there who loves you and who is waiting to love you and you just have to find them. That means you have to make room for them and if you're surrounded by a bunch of low life folks who aren't supporting you, then there's no room for the people who do love you."

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3. Sometimes you need a break from social media

 "When it comes to social media there are just times I turn off the world. There are just sometimes you have to give yourself space to be quiet, which means you have to set those phones down. You can't be reading all that. That's like letting somebody just walk up and slap you. You would never do that. You would never just sit there and go, 'Slap me in the face and I'm good with it.' No. Why would you open yourself up to that? That's one thing with social media, I don’t read that stuff. I learned that early in the campaign. I couldn't keep reading stuff about my husband and what people thought, and thought because I knew who he was, I knew what was going on in our home, in our lives. I didn’t need to read about it from somebody else."

4. The best revenge is success and good work

"People won't remember what other people say about you but they will remember what you do. When it came to this role I just said, 'Let me just be First Lady. Let me wake up every day and work hard to do something of value and to do it well. To do something consequential and to do something I care about. Then let that speak for itself.' That would shut up the haters because I would have a whole portfolio of stuff that defined me because it's what I did, not what you called me. The best revenge is success and good work. You don't have to say anything to the haters. You don't have to acknowledge them at all. You just wake up every morning and be the best you, you can be and that tends to shut them up."

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5. When you focus on serving and impacting others, the money and the success will come

"I left the practice of law to go into public service for selfish reasons. I wanted to feel happy and feel good every single day. I wanted to wake up inspired and ready to do something greater than myself. That's what service and giving, that's what this room means to so many. I just want to make sure that when people leave here they don't go back into their isolation. That they don’t go back to their phones looking down because this relationship isn't enough. You need to have people in your lives that you're connecting with, that you're helping. There's nothing that makes me feel better than knowing that I helped to change somebody's life. If you're doing that every single day, the haters, the doubters, none of that matters because you are getting so much by the work that you're doing."

Then Oprah followed up with:

Oprah: "The best success comes when you can actually shift your paradigm to service.  I figured this out early on in the show. I had read this quote from Dr. King. One of my favorite quotes from him that says, 'Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service.' I literally shifted, I used that quote to help me shift the way I saw the platform of television."

[Tweet "Not everyone can be famous, but everybody can be great. "]

6. There are different phases in life, and even when things aren't going the way you'd like, you can't give up. 

 "There are so many phases to life that this—even being First Lady and living in the White House—[is] still just a portion of a very bigger journey that I have yet to know the outcome. And I won't know it until I'm laying down.  It's just ever-evolving. And I think this experience has helped me to see that.  These are just phases.  And this has been a very interesting phase, and a very impactful phase, but there's more to come."

7. You can have it all, but it's hard to get it all at the same time. 

"I am always irritated by the 'you can have it all' statement. I grew irritated with that phrase, that expectation the older I got as you're trying to have it all. You're beating yourself up and feeling less than because you aren't having it all. It's a ridiculous aspiration. You all need to stop lying. Be real about the fact no one gets everything. That was one of the first rules you learned as a little kid. You don't always get your way. You don’t always get what you want all the time and that's true in life. What I've told many young people is that, you can have it all but oftentimes it's hard to get it all at the same time."

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8. Men have to be better

"[Men] be better. Be better at everything. Be better fathers. Good, Lord. Just being good fathers who love your daughters and are providing a solid example of what it means to be a good man in the world, showing them what it feels like to be loved. That is the greatest gift that the men in my life gave to me and we've talked about this. The fact that I've never experienced abuse at the hands of any man in my life, and that's sad to say that that's a rare reality. Men can be better at that."

"Men can be better husbands. Be a part of your family's life. Do the dishes. Don't baby-sit your children. You don't baby-sit your own children. Be engaged. Don't just think going to work, and coming home makes you a man. Being a father, being engaged, all that stuff is important. Be a better employer. When you are sitting at a seat of power at a table of any kind and you look around and you just see you, it's just you and a bunch of men around a table on a golf course making deals, and you allow that to happen, and you're okay with that, be better."

[Tweet "Don't just think going to work, and coming home makes you a man. - FLOTUS"]

9. Never be complacent

"We are never done. We can never be complacent and think that we've arrived now as women because I hear this from young women. Some of you young women who aren't feeling some of the pains that many of our predecessors have felt. You think, 'Well, there aren't any problems. Women's rights, we've got this all figured out. I'm already equal. I'm good.' Just you wait, you'll feel it. The work continues and for all the young women in this room, all the young men, we can never be complacent because we have seen in recent times how quickly things can be taken away if we aren't vigilant, if we don’t know our history, if we don’t continue the work. My hope is that people leave here inspired and ready to do something. Again remember, it's not what people say about you, it's what you do."

"The question is, what are you going to do? How are you going to be better? What are you going to change in your office, in your life, in your relationships? What are you going to change in your family dynamic and how are you going to empower yourself with the knowledge that you need to know what work needs to be done? We can't afford to be ignorant, we can't afford to be complacent. We have to continue the work."

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Watch the inspiring discussion below! 

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