Discover Michelle Obama’s take on building meaningful friendships

Photo Courtesy: X

Photo Courtesy: X


As we celebrate the birthday of the exceptionally inspiring, Michelle Obama today, let’s take a moment to dive into her wisdom through her podcast titled ‘Michelle Obama: The Light Podcast’ available on Audible

This series is an extension to her book The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times where Michelle, along with her esteemed friends, shares profound conversations during her six-city U.S. book tour, exploring themes like friendships, vulnerabilities, personal struggles, and more.

Here are a few highlights and thought-provoking insights from the podcast.

Building Meaningful Friendships

In conversation with legendary poet and teacher Elizabeth Alexander, Michelle Obama reflects on their 30 years of friendship. They discuss their shared journey of motherhood as they grew to adulthood, the twists and turns of careers, growing older, and their retreat at Camp David with other friends. Michelle emphasizes, “Whether I met you three months ago, or three decades ago, if we've built a meaningful friendship, I will work hard to foster our relationship and be there for you when you need me. I've got your back because I know you got mine. And one of those people I know without a doubt that I can count on is my dear friend, Elizabeth Alexander. It felt like a warm blanket to sit down with her for a long soulful conversation about friendship, fostering them, nurturing them, and the deep humanity that lies within them. Now I've known Elizabeth for 30 years, since long before the presidency was even a glimmer in Barack’s eye. She's a distinguished poet, writer, and academic. But to me, she's even more than that. She's an authentic and genuine friend, and she'll always have a spot at my kitchen table.”

Striving for Excellence and Parenting
Gayle King and Michelle Obama open up about parenting and striving for excellence as a pursuit. Michelle Obama encourages young people to take charge of their lives and make excellence a practice, “Excellence is a thing you practice. You practice who you want to be, every single day. I try to tell my girls this - if you want to be a professional and be on time, you have got to start doing that when you're seven or nine. You don't wait until you get to a position to try to show up. So I have been practicing getting things right for a long time. So I don't know how to be late,” said Obama.

When asked about parenting their two girls, she said, “I treated parenting my girls like my parents parented me. I wanted them to be independent early. I wanted them to be able to wake themselves up, make their own beds, they had to do their own homework. There was no helicoptering because I wanted them to rise and fall on their own merits.”

The Power of Small
America’s favourite former First Lady shares that she grew up in circumstances where bars were set quite low for women of colour. She did not let these conditions overpower her, and credit due to her parents for always making her feel seen and heard at home. She used it as an opportunity to prove to the world what she was capable of.

As she goes on to detail her approach to life, Michelle uses her wit in sharing some insights. She compares knitting to taking on tasks in life and suggests instead of overwhelming ourselves with what we cannot control we must focus on the smaller tasks at hand. She goes on to share an anecdote of when she was overwhelmed while preparing a speech, she says, “I am trying to go big, I am trying to think of a big speech and I don’t have that platform in quarantine. But I can focus on what’s in my lap. Let me look at what I uniquely can control. The truth is what’s in our lap. The fact that yes, there are riots going on but there are people who are also coming out and marching. They saw brutality but the country remembered for a time they had come together around Black Lives Matter. There were all these emergency workers sacrificing themselves in this quarantine. People were giving, we were a better nation than we were being taught. But we lose sight of the beauty of what’s small because we are taught that big is better. This is where great becomes the enemy of good. And you don’t have the power to change the world until you do the thing that you can actually control, the thing in your lap. Let us now value the power of small.”

Decoding Fear
In conversation with Ellen Degeneres, Michelle Obama elaborates why we must overcome our fears and step out of our comfort zone to get ahead in life. “There is a fear that keeps us stuck. The fear of others, the fear of somebody who is not like you, the fear of somebody who has a different skin colour than you. That is an irrational fear. If we don’t learn to decode it and to know when our fear is keeping us safe from when it is keeping us limited and narrow and small. If we don’t start thinking about how we process fear, I know I have had to. I’ve had to learn to determine when my fear is rational and when it's just me not wanting to do something that makes me uncomfortable.” She goes on to add, “Learning to be comfortably afraid is learning to rationally deal with your fear so that you can get to the other side. When you get to the other side, nine times out of ten there is a lot of growth, opportunity and possibility if you can decode it properly.”

Michelle’s classic wit, candour, and compassion infused in her anecdotal learning as she engages in an insightful yet fun banter with exceptional luminaries is bound to lighten up your world.