Michelle Obama has a history of making pithy, inspirational remarks. Earlier today, the former First Lady spoke at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, Connecticut. During that speech she encapsulated in six short words the key to being truly successful:
"Focus on what you can control."
Why is this quote so important? Because when you direct your attention to things you can't control, you're wasting your energy. However, when you focus on what you can control, you're moving closer to your goals.
The most common case of focusing on the uncontrollable in business is trying to bend other people to your will. The manager who orders people about never gets very far; it's the leaders who inspire that change the world.
When you're building a business, you can control how you use your time and resources but you can't control your customers. You can't force them to buy; if you try, you won't have customers. All you can do is provide great products and services.
Similarly, beyond deciding how to adapt to whatever the future might bring, it's mostly pointless to worry about politics or the economy. Vote, by all means. Call your senator or congressman, sure. But getting upset and angry ... not useful.
The same thing is true about your health. You can control what you eat and how much you exercise and the medicine you take, but you never know when you might have a heart attack or something worse. Worrying, if anything, makes you even less healthy.
While I definitely feel that these six short words are the gist of great wisdom, I would be remiss if I didn't include some other inspirational Michelle Obama quotes to give them context. Here are my favorites:
"Being smart is cooler than anything in the world."
"Choose people who lift you up."
"Find people who will make you better."
"Remember who you always were, where you came from, who your parents were, how they raised you."
"Success doesn't count unless you earn it fair and square."
"Success is only meaningful and enjoyable if it feels like your own."
"The one thing people can't take away from you is your education."
"There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made."
"When you're not engaged in the day-to-day struggles that everybody feels, you slowly start losing touch."
"Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude."