Obama and You – Ways to Change the World


I’m one of the millions who’s flocked to DC to inaugurate a President and hopefully an era of hope. At a reception, I was telling someone about the leadership work I do, and he asked “Who’s your target audience?” I replied, “Everybody.” I titled my book Everyday Leadership, because I fervently believe everyone can lead. So, here I am – like the entire nation and much of the world – watching one guy to see how he’ll lead us. I’m thinking: Shouldn’t we all be able to take something away from this phenom, in whom we have placed so much hope? Not just about what he’ll do for us, but about what we can learn from him as we lead. What’s your Obama takeaway? I don’t mean about politics and national leadership. I mean about you – in your world (because in a sense we’re all “world leaders”). I look at him and think, “wow, I’d like to be more like that,” and here’s the model that he sets that inspires me:


Courage. He had zero business running for President. He was too young, had spent too little time in the Senate, was too little connected, too poorly known, too much in the middle of raising young kids, too “left” on the war, and face it, too dark-skinned. Darn, if he didn’t run anyway!!! What do I think I have no business doing? I’m gonna do some of that.


Honesty. In his early memoir Dreams From My Father, he tells his story – all of it – even the part about inhaling. When the issue of race was dogging him, he spoke very deep truths, unafraid of the supposed societal gulf, not afraid to challenge the right or the left. He didn’t mince words. It should be no secret that high-priced political consultants tell candidates, “Don’t answer the question you’re asked; answer the question you want to answer.” Obama has done some of that, but for the most part he’s been quite direct. The older I get the more I find that honesty frees. It frees the teller and it frees the follower. I want to stop holding back.


Steadfast, measured confidence. He seems to play government leadership like Tiger plays golf, or Jordan played basketball. He’s unflappable, and that calms those around him. In my world – of too much work, teenage kids, Michigan’s economy, etc. – I act with what I believe deepdown: things will work out. I can help make some small contributions to making them work out, and I can stay cool while I do it..

If you watch the inaugural activities – whether you’re blue, red or purple – I invite you to open yourself to specific inspiration. Let Obama give you hope for America and the world, but also the inspiration to recommit in your world to

 Lead with your best self,