There are people in this world who possess a superpower: the ability to make you feel special and important the moment you connect. They inspire you to see yourself differently and to approach the world with more optimism and gusto.
Michelle Obama has that superpower.
I watched it in full force yesterday as she greeted members of the Pluralsight team and special guests (I was fortunate enough to be one of those guests. Thank you Benson!). It was a brief interaction, but I thanked her for her service and for all of the inspiration she’s given me over the years. She could see the tears welling up in my eyes and said, “Don’t you cry on me! It’ll make me cry and we can’t have that. It’ll ruin our make up!”
I stood in awe watching her hug every single person she encountered. I couldn’t believe how warm, humble, and sincere she was. I’m replaying the moment in my head, still in disbelief that it actually happened.
During her interview on stage, she talked about her passion for kids (including her own), experiences she had in the White House, what she’s been up to since (reflecting on the last 10 years, working on the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago), and how important it is for leaders and innovators to build diverse and inclusive teams.
I took so much away from her talk, but the most powerful message and reminder she delivered was this: we can choose to lead with fear or we can choose to lead with hope.
As we’re tested and presented with challenges, can we resist the temptation to take the easy route? When others go low, can we go high? Can we open our hearts and minds and treat each other with kindness and compassion so that together, we can give hope to each other?
My immediate reaction: Yes. Yes, we can.
Many thanks to Michelle Obama for her grace and public service. A special thanks to the team at Pluralsight for a memorable week in Salt Lake City. I continue to be wow-ed by the work you’re doing and your mission to lift up the human condition through education.