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Becoming by Michelle Obama
Date: Jul 31, 2020
As a girl or perhaps a young woman at the beginning of their career, what were your aspirations and who were your inspirations?
Michelle Obama is the inspiration to many girls and women in the USA and around the world. She became more well known when she became the first black First Lady of America, but she was working with and inspiring others for many years before this happened.
“Becoming” is a story about Michelle’s childhood, her journey into womanhood, the choices she made both personally and for her career and the events that led her to The White House. Throughout, the overall resounding message is the support that she had from her family and friends and also from her community both past and present.
Her parents brought her up to believe that it is the relationships that you have, that make you who you are, and that as an individual you are shaped by the experiences you have throughout your life. Michelle talks about how she feels she has a personal obligation that it is not enough for just herself to succeed, but to also care about those around you and to look out for them. Her strong family and community ties have instilled values so strong that she struggles to not live and breathe these values.
Those values at her core are that if something good happens to you and you have an advantage, you don’t hoard it. You share it. You reach out. You give back.
Michelle had her career path all mapped out - get a good education, go to Harvard law school and become a lawyer. However, after achieving that she realised that something was missing. She wasn’t happy. She realised that it was because she was ignoring the values and beliefs that she felt she needed to live by.
By now she was a working mum, with Barack by her side, with law school debts still to be paid off and still many years before the presidential campaign, which wasn’t even a thought in their minds at that point. In her book she chats about her relationship with Barack and how he was the lone voice telling her to “just go for it”. To erase her worries and go toward whatever would make her happy. So, she did.
You hear about her transition from a corporate lawyer to running a brand-new branch of a Not For Profit Organisation in Chicago which helps 18 to 30 year-olds find careers in public service. She saw the young people she helped start to discover their communities, their city and to find their voice. Michelle had finally found a role that matched her beliefs and values.
Their lives totally changed when Barack become the President of the United States. Not only was Michelle trying to create a new home for her two young girls in a huge building that felt nothing like a home, she was also trying to find her own path as the First Lady of America.
Michelle talks about the initiatives that she set up whilst she was the First Lady. From a vegetable garden in the White House so that school children could come and learn about growing things (apparently they extended the somewhat small vegetable plot quite extensively!), to asking musicians before an evening event to hold a youth workshop in the day, to inviting local school kids to the welcoming ceremony for foreign dignitaries so they could taste the food, to launching “Let’s Move” an initiative to help fight obesity in children. The latter ended up with her in a press-up competition with Ellen DeGeneres on Ellen’s show whilst promoting it. Michelle won.
She also started a mentoring program for school girls, providing them not only with a trusted mentor but also a safe group where they could discuss the challenges of growing up in their current community, their aspirations and to receive the encouragement that they could succeed and how they can do just that.
Michelle continues to live and breathe her values and beliefs and continues to work with others to ensure that as many people as possibly have the opportunities they deserve.
Michelle’s book really resonated with me because both personally and at Troy Accounting, we hold similar values and beliefs. We truly believe that our clients should pursue their dreams and we support them doing that by guiding them towards the opportunities available to them in their business. We love watching our clients grow and succeed - it’s what they deserve.