TomorrowMakers

A First lady, mother, wife, philanthropist - Michelle Obama makes it look really easy. Here's how she can teach you a thing or two about managing your career.

You know she’s a former First Lady and wife of former President of the United States of America (USA) - Barack Obama. But you may also know her better for being a confident, compassionate and fearless woman who chose not to walk in her husband’s shadow but to make her mark in the world.

There is no doubt that she can teach you a thing or two.

So, on her birthday we talk about some lessons from Michelle Obama that can help you excel at work:

 

1. Create the conversation you want others to have about you
“Initially, the conversation [in the media] was about my shoes. Then every single article
written [about me] started with what I was wearing,” Michelle said, adding that her husband wore the same blue suit for eight years and nobody noticed.

Today, while her dressing style is still a popular subject, the media also talks about her initiatives to educate girls worldwide and fight obesity among children.

Lesson – Michelle Obama managed to shift the focus to what she wanted others to notice about her and her work. Similarly, you can ensure that your colleagues or superiors notice and talk about your skills, work ethic, ideas etc. Be confident, talk about things that matter, express your opinions, and raise questions/ doubts when you have them.     

2. Speak up
"I admit it: I am louder than the average human being and have no fear of speaking my mind. These traits don't come from the colour of my skin, but from an unwavering belief in my own intelligence," says Michelle.

Michelle Obama expressed her thoughts and opinions on almost everything – Donald Trump becoming USA’s president, racial discrimination, studying arts, nutrition, etc. She ensured her voice was heard over all the noise.

Lesson – Not all of us are fortunate enough to work in an organisation where credit is given to those who deserve it. Hence, it is essential for you to speak up rather than just sit back and hope that someone notices your work. Some tips to help you achieve this include- being serious about your work, participate in discussions and don't hesitate to revel in your success when it comes along.

 

3. Be yourself
“I’ve never tried to be anyone else in my life,” says Michelle. “You can’t do anything if you are not yourself. It’s all about your authentic self. I’ve always listened to my authentic voice,” she added.

That was the former first lady's answer when asked how she became who she is today. Perhaps this is why the world sees her as a genuine person.

Lesson - People can always see through you. If you try to be someone that you aren’t, it will eventually weigh down on your self-esteem and make others lose respect for you. Hence, don’t be afraid of being yourself. Be real and be honest; be the best version of yourself, and people will respect you for that. 

4. Surround yourself with positivity
"Do not bring people into your life who weigh you down; trust your instincts. Find people who will make you better," says Michelle.

When something negative about her appeared in the media, Michelle always steered clear of it. She never invested energy in thinking about it.

Lesson – While people who criticise you help you grow, people who are positive provide you with constant motivation to keep at it, even on your worst day. They also help you see past all the negative things being spoken about you. Hence, surround yourself with positive people at your workplace. And while you feed off their positivity, don't forget to return some of it as well. 

5. Focus on yourself
While talking about the role women play in the family and taking care of children, Michelle says, “We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own 'to do' list."

Michelle talked about why it’s important that women focus on their lives too – their health, their finances and their career.

Lesson – You will be able to relate to what Michelle said, especially if you are a working mother. You probably let a few things slide on the work front while putting out fires on the domestic front. But it is essential that you prioritise your work. Seek help to manage household responsibilities, and don't let them become excuses for arriving late, missing deadlines or doing substandard work. Set aside time to focus on your health and finances, and get some 'me time' too. All this can turn you into an excellent role model not just for your family, but for society as well. 

Conclusion

Despite having the president of the USA as her husband, Michelle Obama chose to create her own identity; a unique one that would help her relate to people on a different level. And that’s what makes her a powerful woman in the truest sense.

How I did it

Saurabh Mehta
CA

Exploring investment avenues and watching my portfolio grow is a hobby, and one that pays quite well.… Read more

Rohit Menon
Art Director

I’m a big spender. So I knew I had to be careful with my money as soon as I started working. If I weren’t,… Read more

Sneha Aswani
Publisher Alliance

I’m a housewife and my husband is a marketing director at an FMCG company. Since he’s very busy, he lets me manage all household expenses and for this he allowed me ready access to as much money as I might need.

While this freedom was great, it also meant I didn’t have to put in much… Read more

Khushboo Mittal
Finance Blogger

Having grown up in a joint family, cooking was a skill I never managed to pick up. So, when I moved to Mumbai for a job, I was suddenly left to fend for myself. I had to figure how to feed myself three times a day, seven days a week. I wasn’t worried though, I was going to Mumbai after all – the… Read more

MOST RECENT