As 2016 ends and the U.S. government leadership transitions to a new regime, it is necessary to pause. Regardless of political affiliation, it would be unwise to overlook triumphs and insights gained during the last 8 years.

2008 marked a tremendous time and movement in America. A time where the “Audacity of Hope” grabbed our attention sparking us to believe that “anything is possible” and “change” comes from within. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle embodied the hope we had desperately longed for and waited a lifetime to see. Both, inspired us to be more than we dreamed.

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Whether you were the African American voter doubting you’d ever see the First Black President of the United States or the businesswoman waiting in line for the chance to“Rise and Shine,” you were ignited to believe. The moment felt new and different.

Or maybe you were the Immigrant waiting to be called a U.S. citizen? Maybe the Muslim wanting to be seen as more than “A Terrorist?” No matter who, all became engaged because of the contribution of this Chicago South Side power team.

These two great leaders had the ability to turn the mundane into the extraordinary. The more we grew to know them, the more convinced we were if they could be great, so could we.  They found a way to “Make America Great Again” without ever having to say a word. Despite political preference, in this time, true reflection on the Obama legacy should be captured and observed.

As they leave the Oval office and in honor of their legacy, for the next 21 days LonnaHardin.com will share Leadership Lessons from their time in office that can benefit all. leadership-1714497_1280

LEADERSHIP LESSON #1: Recognize The Potential For Greatness in Everyone, Even Those Who Can’t Serve Your Purpose Or Agenda.

I have never personally met Michelle Obama. However, I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse of her integrity, attention to detail, and character the President’s first term.

Mother’s Day was approaching. A close friend and artist, decided to feature First Lady Obama in a portrait. He used it to design a “Mother’s Day” card series.  I and a few others were asked to write a poem to be used on the inside. Since, the Obama Presidency was history in the making, I considered it an honor.

Once complete, my friend mailed the card series to the White House.  Truthfully, I was tickled.  Did he really think she would respond? Didn’t he know she was extremely busy? He had to know her importance.  Did he really think she would open it?

Regardless of my inner ramblings, I was highly flattered to be a part of the venture. Although slim, there was a slight chance the poem would be seen.

Within weeks, shocked and surprised, I received a phone call. Completely floored, Michelle Obama had hand written my friend a letter expressing her appreciation.
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How in the world could someone so great find the time to recognize such a small gesture? Did she know one tiny act of kindness would affirm my purpose and equally fuel my passion?

Although just a glimpse into the life of a true leader, this story offers a lesson in leadership. As powerful and great as Michelle Obama is, she still took the time to recognize, acknowledge and appreciate the greatness in someone who could do no more than offer her kind, rhythmic words and a smile.

Greatness happens every moment and minute. It can happen when cameras are off or on. Let those of us who work to be true leaders not become so full of ourselves that we forget to take the time to recognize and appreciate the greatness in those around us.  

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best, “A great man is always willing to be little.”