Michelle Obama got it wrong…

Posted Friday, 4th Jan 2019 by Tim Savage • Business Thinking

I’m currently reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography called “Becoming”.


It’s what I call a proper autobiography, written by the person, rather than ghost written.  It’s also deeply personal and tells the story of her childhood – where she came from and how her upbringing and roots have defined her.  I haven’t finished it yet but it’s one of those books that you will stay up far into the night reading because you cannot put it down.


It’s not showy, or Hollywood like.  Far from it, she is a remarkable lady who took a long time to find her calling and that’s what I wanted to talk about today.


As we all shake off the effects of Christmas and try to get back to work and focus again, there was a passage in the book that hit me right between the eyes.  Its message could not have been clearer – to all of us, whether you are employed, self employed, retired or any one of these things or even something else.


After pushing herself throughout her school years to be a high achiever (and by her own admission, constantly seeking approval for her efforts from those she loved), getting into Princeton University and then becoming a well-paid commercial lawyer back in her home town of Chicago – she suddenly realised that she didn’t enjoy being a lawyer…


All those years focussing solely on becoming a lawyer because she wanted to prove to her parents and family that she was making the most of her talent and indeed their considerable support – and then suddenly realising that it wasn’t her calling.  That she was bored, unfulfilled and deeply unhappy.


She’d done what she’d done – for others.  For her parents who were hard working people who had never gone to University.  For them, the racial discrimination in America had made that impossible.  She was the first, along with her brother, in her family to break that glass ceiling and go to a prestigious university.


Yet none of this achievement was giving her any happiness.


She realised after meeting Barack that she needed to follow her path – to do what made her happy – not what OTHERS wanted to her do.


How many times have you – as a business owner  – wondered if you were in the right business?


How many times have you – as an employed person – wondered if you were in the right job?


How many times have you – as a partner – wondered if the person you are with was the right person for you for the rest of your life?


True happiness in life means following your path – doing what fulfils you, what makes you truly happy.  To do otherwise, wastes huge amounts of precious time – the one thing we never know how much we have left.


The happiest people in the world sometimes earn very little, have very few possessions, and yet they exude a feeling that many others envy.  They’re happy!


I can think of a number of business owners who have closed down their businesses because they finally realised they had no passion for what they were doing.  They were doing it to earn a living.  You can do that being employed – without all the responsibility and hassle of running your own business


When Tracey and me went travelling for two years in 2014, we realised we had that perfect moment – and that if we didn’t do it then, we would probably never do it.


And as we start another new year, I was reminded of what I learnt by going away and doing what we did:


Whatever we did when we came back, we wanted to live by the sea.


Whatever I did in future, it had to make me happy and I didn’t want to ever work again with people I simply didn’t like!


I’m doing both!


What makes you happy?  What can you do this year to change your path and finally start doing what inspires you or that you are passionate about?


For me, this year, it’s about plastic waste.  Trying not to use it.  If I do use it, to dispose of it responsibly, and to pick it up wherever I see it.  I HATE LITTER.


In my Amazon business, we are trying to eliminate all plastic packaging – it’s not easy but we think it can be done.  One small step…


I hope you had a fabulous break and that you have come back refreshed and ready to go again.


As we come up to the first anniversary of my dear Pa’s death, I am reminded again of the fragility of life and the uncertainty of its length.


Promise yourself to make the very most of every minute you have left – however long that may be.


Happy New Year!

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