learnings from michelle obama

Last night I was invited to see Michelle Obama's Becoming event in Vancouver. I had been so interested in hearing her the last time she was in my city, but tickets were tough to come by. This time around, I dropped everything to attend.  
  
Politics aside, there were some key learnings and real brain chargers that came from the evening. I left reflective, motivated and feeling proud. Here are some of my takeaways. 
  
I attended the event during one of my more action packed life moments. I recently went through a divorce, which while positive, still comes with a lot of reflection and contemplation. My kids left the same day as the event for 10 days away from me, which rocked me. Skoah is about to embark on a rapid growth plan which is highly positive, and equally thought inducing. And at skoah, we are a week from having lost one of our long time employees who passed away suddenly after working here almost 9 years. I was ready to gain some perspective, insight and a new paradigm.  
  
The first message that spoke to me was to own where you came from. For years, I felt uncomfortable with my untraditional business background. Meaning that I had no business background when I started. I was an Art History and Education Major. I was coming from a family of teachers, so I had to figure the business stuff out as I went along. I went into so many situations feeling intimidated and uncertain, until one day I actually listened to myself speak and realized I had an incredible business background, because in fact, I had to figure it all out and learn as I went. Now, 17 years later, I feel I've done an MBA. But the truth of it is, Michelle spoke about the value of where we came from and how we grew up is not our financial situation. It’s not about who we knew or where we were educated, but more about who we have become despite this, and in many ways, because of this. I am proud of growing up in a family where empathy, compassion, kindness and humbleness were foundational.  
 
As a Mom, many of Michelle's words spoke to my heart She said: 
 

"Believe your kids, always."

As a single Mom of 4, I immediately thought of earlier in the day when I had thought my son had done something he said he hadn’t. It's tough when you’re 1 on 4 to fully process situations while the kids are arguing, and I knew I had rushed to judgement. The truth is, I didn't believe him. When I heard this I went to that moment filled with regret and realized, had I believed him, I'd see where his thoughts came from. While the guilt was strong, the lesson was stronger. Thank you Michelle.  
 

"To give a child a voice, let them be heard from very early on."

I love to listen to how my kids see the world, and to hear their ideas and their beliefs and their plans. At times, I rush them, but this message stuck with me. I need to listen, listen and listen. I teach not by talking, but by showing. I learn what they are absorbing by listening.  
 

"Validate your kids worries, fears, happiness’s and joys." 

This week, one of my kids made a Rep soccer team and one didn't. I sat with the son who didn't and we discussed how things felt. I shared a story whereby my sister landed a role in a Ballet and I had not. It hurt. But validating the pain got him to acceptance. I need to do that more.  
 

"Tell them every day: You are smart, you are beautiful and you can do it."

For a long time, when my kids were falling asleep, I would whisper in their ears all of the things that made them amazing. I realized I had not done it for a while. I am so happy to have been reminded of this. As an adult, somehow we get to a place in many aspects of our lives where we just don't always feel like we are ‘enough’. Smart enough, pretty enough, kind enough, a good parent enough, etc. We are enough.  
 

"Give kids a vision of what is possible."

The truth is anything is possible, and even if it is impossible, we evolve in the process of possibility.  
 

"Kids react the way we show them they should react."

100% accurate. What we do, not what we say, is everything.  
  
My own mother was at the same event (not sitting with me). I texted her and said. "So much good parenting advice. I feel like an awful parent."  
She said to me "You aren't hearing what she is saying. You are awesome." 
  
Thank you Michelle for sharing your story, your life, and for stoking my mind to reflect and grow just when I needed to hear it.