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Michelle Obama’s Top 5 Life Lessons

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Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is one of the most inspiring and influential women in history. Not only was she the first African American first lady of the United States, but she is also a fashion icon, acclaimed author, and social activist who has been putting people – especially young girls – first throughout her life.

Whether you agree with her (or her husband’s) politics or not, as a cultural figure she has done phenomenal things with her life that we can all learn from. She studied her way through Princeton University as an undergrad, for example; was a top student at Harvard Law School; and spent time as a hospital executive helping sick people get healed. She has also launched health food and empowerment initiatives for girls that have literally improved millions of girls lives throughout the world.

Given all of her amazing accomplishments, what are Michelle Obama’s top 5 life lessons we can learn from?

  1. We have to choose ourselves. Time and time again, Michelle Obama hearkens to the idea that we have to be authentic to our values, goals, and personalities. Too often in society it is easy to try to fit in out of fear of rejection and we don’t have to do this. Sure, if we don’t fit in some people will reject us, but other people will accept us. We should want to be around the people who will accept us for being who we truly are.
  1. We have to trust ourselves. In Michelle’s memoir and documentary of the same name, Becoming, she talks about the need to believe in ourselves, believe in our own voices, and trust that we matter to somebody somewhere. This lesson some people never learn, but if you and I learn it early we will be much better and stronger because of it.
  1. We have to practice who we want to be. Because of hurts, insecurities, and other things we’ve experienced in our lives, it can be easy to not know who we are – it can be easy to question our identities – so we will have to practice who we are according to Michelle. What this means is we will have to practice being brave, bold, original, and real even if we don’t feel these emotions at the time we’re practicing them. The more we practice, the more we become.
  1. We have to choose excellence in all that we do. In order to move into our destinies and prove our doubters wrong, we will have to be excellent at all that we do. We will have to speak, write, dress, and behave in excellence if people are going to take us seriously and if we are going to achieve success. This might seem like a given, but in practice it can be harder than it seems. Michelle believes that we must choose excellence over mediocrity every single time.
  1. We have to keep moving forward no matter what comes at us in life. Michelle Obama is certainly no stranger to controversy, pain, or opposition, but despite these things she continues to move forward regardless of what is thrown at her. Because she was the first African American first lady of the United States, there were many personal and professional questions thrown at her that she had to deal with. And when she dealt with them, she did so with class. For you and me, we can also learn to do this no matter what life throws at us – we must keep pushing forward and never accept defeat.

So there we have it, Michelle Obama’s top 5 life lessons. If we can choose ourselves, trust ourselves, practice who we want to be, choose excellence in all that we do, and move forward no matter what life throws at us we will be well on our way to implementing our first lady’s top 5 life lessons in our own lives.

Dr. Rob Carpenter - known simply as “Dr. Rob” - is a transformational author, filmmaker, and CEO whose mission is to entertain, empower, and uplift people and humanity.

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Disney

5 Things Beauty & The Beast Teaches Adults About Not Fitting In

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5 Things Beauty & The Beast Teaches Adults About Not Fitting In

One reason why so many Disney movies are timeless is because of the truths they teach us. Beauty & The Beast is no exception.

The film follows a booksmart daughter (“Belle”) of a local inventor who gets lost in the woods and is taken as a prisoner in a castle by a mysterious Beast. To find her missing father, Belle searches the woods and discovers the castle herself – before being taken prisoner by the Beast too. The Beast, who must get Belle to fall in love with him by his 21st birthday to break a curse over his life, tries to force her to but she escapes because he is too rigid and controlling – he is trying to force her to be something she is not through lots of rules and regulations. Eventually, though, Belle returns to the Beast after the local townspeople discover the castle and attempt to destroy it (Belle realizes that she does love Beast and wants to be with him the rest of her life).

While there is a lot to unpack to this film – about love, prejudice, and other things – one of the biggest lessons Beauty & The Beast imparts is on how to be okay with not ‘fitting in.’ This is important because regardless of whether we’re children or adults, not fitting in is something we will continuously struggle with so having more inspiration in this area of our lives is important. Here are 5 things the movie teaches us.

  1. We will fit in some places, but not in other places. Belle was seen as weird in her hometown because she read a lot, didn’t date, and seemed to keep to herself. As a result, she didn’t really fit in there because the townspeople thought women shouldn’t read and should just get married. On the other hand – unlike in her hometown – once Belle entered the castle with the Beast, she was more accepted and valued by the people there (the servants of the house) then she was by the people in her hometown. Likewise for us, some places and groups we will just not fit into (no matter who we are), but other ones we will (no matter who we are). Instead of us trying to be chameleons and change just to fit into a group we want acceptance from, we should simply find people and groups that will accept us no questions asked.
  1. Other people will always try to mold us into their image. Both the Beast (and Gaston, the local arrogant townsman who was smitten for Belle) tried to make her into something she wasn’t: their version of what an acceptable wife should be. The Beast, for example, wanted her to follow his rules (without seeking her input or perspective) and Gaston wanted Belle to just blindly follow him (to make her his trophy housewife). For you and me, other people will also try to get us to become what they want us to be according to their rules and dictates. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes this is bad. We have to recognize the difference between when changing as a result of others’ influence is in our best interest and when it isn’t. 
  1. Some people will go to war with the identities we’ve chosen for ourselves. Gaston could not stand that Belle chose Beast over him, so he decided to go to war against the Beast. But, in a way, he also decided to go to war against the identity and choices Belle made for herself too (that she chose to identify with everything that Gaston wasn’t – namely the Beast). In our own lives, some people will question, challenge, belittle, dismiss, and sometimes attempt to cancel the identities and groups we choose for ourselves because they don’t think they’re good for us. This will happen over and over in our lives, no matter who we are.
  1. Those who attempt to change us will often be changed by us. The ironic thing is that even though Beast tried to change Belle through his rules, he ended up being changed by her through her influence. She was able to get him to see that his assumptions and approach to her were all wrong and he transformed into a better person as a result. When people attempt to change you and me, they will likewise be in a position to be changed by us. Not all of these people will change, but many of them will – whether they know it or not (and whether we know they change or not). Our influence in their lives will be profound and it may lead them to adopt different mindsets, approaches, and behaviors toward us (and toward others in their lives) even if just subconsciously.
  1. Our happiness is defined by who we are – not who others are trying to make us to be. Belle was completely happy to be the weird booksmart daughter of an inventor and she never tried to be anything else. Even though Beast and Gaston tried to make her into one thing, she wanted to be something entirely different. And she stood firm. For us, this can be tough to do but it is possible. If we find happiness in ourselves (and not because we’re trying to make others happy or become who they want us to be) we will be better for it.

Ultimately, Beauty and The Beast is a phenomenal film we can learn many lessons from, especially around not having to fit in. When we recognize these lessons not only will we be in better positions to carry them out in our own lives, but we just might help influence others to carry them out in their own lives as well.

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Celebrities

The Top 5 Life Lessons of Reese Witherspoon

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The Top 5 Life Lessons of Reese Witherspoon 

Reese Witherspoon is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. She is the recipient of an Oscar, Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy, and many other awards. And she is an outspoken activist and big-time producer.

Reese was raised in the South and made her breakthrough debut in the smash teen-hit Cruel Intentions and has since then acted in many other beloved hits like Big Little Lies and Little Fires Everywhere

Given all of her success, what can you and I learn from her so that we can be more successful in our own lives? 

  1. To be successful like Reese Witherspoon, we should leave our comfort zones. Reese strongly believes that we need to step outside of the familiar, easy, and comfortable in order to stretch ourselves to be more and do more. If we don’t, we will never know if we can truly fly like eagles. 
  1. To be successful like Reese Witherspoon, we should connect with other talented people. The quality of the people around us are more responsible for our success or failure than we might realize. Reese feels her ability to befriend and develop deep working relationships with the best people she can find has helped her not only reach her dreams but exceed them. We should do the same. 
  1. To be successful like Reese Witherspoon, we should be prepared. Although this might seem like a given, it is often very surprising how infrequently people are prepared for meetings or getting the job done. In my own experience in Hollywood, for example, I’ve found that many people are not prepared and it has led to unnecessary inefficiencies and obstacles that could have been avoided had everyone been ready. This is why Reese believes we should do our research so we can hit the ground running on Day 1.
  1. To be successful like Reese Witherspoon, we should think creatively. Reese feels that just because things have always been done a certain way doesn’t mean they have to continue to be done that way. Instead, new ideas or approaches can be pitched and experimented with to see if they could be better. Too often in life, though, many people like to think inside the box because it is safer – but we should never be like them (we should adopt the mottos of “creativity or bust”).
  1. To be successful like Reese Witherspoon, we should prove naysayers wrong. Being from the South herself, Reese had a lot of doubters from both her hometown AND Hollywood who questioned whether a country girl could make it in the big city. Nevertheless, she proved their doubts wrong by not only succeeding but succeeding big. You and I can do the same thing. We don’t have to argue with people, we just have to let our work speak for us.

Of course, there are other life lessons from Reese Witherspoon but these are some of my favorites. If we can learn to leave our comfort zones; connect deeply with other talented people; be prepared for every meeting and occasion; think creativity; and prove naysayers wrong we can be well on our way to being more successful like Reese Witherspoon.

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Disney

4 Things The Lion King Teaches Us About Being Brave

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4 Things The Lion King Teaches Us About Being Brave

Growing up, The Lion King was one of my favorite movies. I thought of myself as “young Simba” and watched the film over and over again. Perhaps you did too. 

For me, what I identified with the most was not that Simba was African royalty or had really cool friends like Timon and Pubma. What I identified with the most was Simba’s bravery. 

It wasn’t that I thought of myself as brave. It wasn’t even that I wanted to be brave. It’s just that I admired that trait in him so much because even as a kid I believed it to be such an honorable quality. I believed that princes – and future kings – should be brave. I think we all do.

But as I got older, I no longer believed bravery should just be the province of royalty. I also started to believe that it should be a trait that all leaders should possess. Heck, I started to believe it should be a trait that all of us should possess really. 

I think I came to this conclusion because of the lack of bravery I saw in my own life – and in the lives of others, especially leaders. I thought if only we had more courage we could be in much different places in our lives, families, and communities. I just thought if only the world was braver it could be better.

Ultimately, The Lion King – which is about Simba losing his father and his homeland and fighting to reclaim it – can teach us much about how to be braver in our own lives. Below are 4 ways the film does just that:

  1. Bravery will require us to choose between confronting wrongs and staying comfortable. Although Simba was in a forced exile from his homeland, he found new friends and a very cushy existence with Timon and Pumba in the wilderness. Life was good and his catchphrase became Hakuna Matata (“no worries”). But when Simba’s old friend Nala from the kingdom comes to tell him about the wicked cruelty now taking place there, Simba’s no worries lifestyle is immediately challenged. He has to choose between going back to his homeland and taking on the wicked king (his uncle Scar) or living the good life with his friends. Likewise, for us to be brave we will have to choose between standing up for our beliefs so that we can right wrongs or being timid by remaining in our status quo existence.
  1. Bravery will require us to confort fierce opposition. For Simba to stop the wicked oppression going on, it meant that he not only had to take on his uncle but that he had to take on his uncle’s entire army. But how was he going to do it? After all, he only had a couple of friends who were his allies and no resources. Yet, Simba still decided to. In our own lives, if we want to be brave we will have to fight people, organizations, or systems that might have more power than us. We will have to fight our fear of being excluded, bad-mouthed, messed with, and even “cancelled.”
  1. Bravery will require us to accept that the outcome is not always guaranteed. In retrospect, it’s easy to believe Simba was going to be successful in stopping Scar from continuing to oppress the people (or animals in the movie’s case). But when Simba was fighting Scar and his forces, he didn’t know if he would fail. He didn’t know if he would lose his life. He didn’t know if his friends would lose their lives. For you and me, when we are called to be brave we won’t always know if we’ll succeed. We won’t always know if we will win or lose. 
  1. Bravery will require us to pursue victory for more people than just ourselves. Even though Simba was fighting to regain his legitimate right to be the king, his victory was for more than just himself. His victory was to redeem the loss of his father and to save his people/animals. Likewise for us, when we’re in situations that require bravery the stakes will not just be for us. No matter what we’re going through, there will always be other people who will win or lose if we win or lose even if we don’t know that.

Ultimately, the lessons from The Lion King are timeless. Choosing between staying comfortable and confronting wrongs, standing up to fierce opposition, accepting unknown outcomes, and fighting for more than ourselves are just a few of the things the movie teaches us about how you and I can become braver in our own lives. 

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