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  1. Blog
  2. Women to Know
  3. June 23, 2022

32 Powerful & Empowering Michelle Obama Quotes

“When they go low, we go high”

Woman holding Michelle Obama's book
Photo courtesy of Alex Nemo Hanse

Michelle Obama’s resume is pretty impressive⁠—she’s a lawyer, activist, former first lady (and the first Black first lady), bestselling author, style icon, and mother. 

Throughout her life, she’s made history championing a variety of important causes: calling for more BIPOC students and professors during her education at Harvard Law school, addressing childhood obesity and advocating for healthier school lunches through her “Let’s Move” initiative, encouraging young girls to stay in school and urging the government to invest in their education, and so on. 

As an inspiring leader and role model to millions of people around the world, Obama has plenty of words of wisdom and frameable mottos to share. We’ve rounded up our favorite quotes to inspire you to be authentic and follow your dreams.

Read more: 17 Bestselling Books on Confidence to Boost Self-Worth & Change Your Mindset

Michelle Obama quotes on overcoming adversity and failure

  1. “When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, ‘When they go low, we go high.’”

  2. “Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.”

  3. “Instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage or exhaust you, let them inspire you. Let them make you even hungrier to succeed.”

  4. “You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.”

  5. “Failure is an important part of your growth and developing resilience. Don’t be afraid to fail.”

Michelle Obama quotes on confidence and power

  1. “Every day, you have the power to choose our better history—by opening your hearts and minds, by speaking up for what you know is right.”

  2. “Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude.”

  3. "Confidence, I'd learned then, sometimes needs to be called from within. I've repeated the same words to myself many times now, through many climbs: 'Am I good enough? Yes I am.'"

  4. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s the power of using your voice. I tried my best to speak the truth and shed light on the stories of people who are often brushed aside.”

Michelle Obama quotes on taking risks and working hard

  1. “Don’t ever make decisions based on fear. Make decisions based on hope and possibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t.”

  2. “Just try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right?”

  3. "You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own."

  4. "When you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed."

  5. “Success isn't about how much money you make. It's about the difference you make in people's lives.”

Michelle Obama quotes on growing and being authentic 

  1. “There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others.”

  2. “For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others.”

  3. “I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values—and follow my own moral compass—then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.”

  4. “Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”

  5. “For me, becoming isn't about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn't end.”

  6. “One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don't invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.”

Michelle Obama quotes on being a woman, a mother, and a working mom

  1. "Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected."

  2. “When it came to the home-for-dinner dilemma, I installed new boundaries, ones that worked better for me and the girls. We made our schedule and stuck to it. …It went back to my wishes for them to grow up strong and centered and also unaccommodating to any form of old-school patriarchy: I didn’t want them ever to believe that life began when the man of the house arrived home. We didn’t wait for Dad. It was his job now to catch up with us.”

  3. “Every girl, no matter where she lives, deserves the opportunity to develop the promise inside of her.”

  4. “When I get up and work out, I’m working out just as much for my girls as I am for me, because I want them to see a mother who loves them dearly, who invests in them, but who also invests in herself. It’s just as much about letting them know as young women that it is okay to put yourself a little higher on your priority list.”

  5. “No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens.”

  6. "There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish."

  7. "When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous."

  8. “It’s remarkable how a stereotype functions as an actual trap. How many “angry black women” have been caught in the circular logic of that phrase? When you aren’t being listened to, why wouldn’t you get louder? If you’re written off as angry or emotional, doesn’t that just cause more of the same?”

Michelle Obama quotes on relationships

  1. “We should always have three friends in our lives-one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we've cleared the way.”

  2. “You have to fill your bucket with positive energy—and if you have people hanging around you that are bringing you down and not lifting you up, whether that’s your ‘boo’ or your best friend—you have to learn how to push these people to the side.”

  3. “Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts...good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don't hurt. They're not painful. That's not just with somebody you want to marry, but it's with the friends that you choose. It's with the people you surround yourselves with.”

  4. “Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses...swapped back and forth and over again.”

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Photo of Cara Hutto

Cara Hutto

Assistant Editor

Cara Hutto is the assistant editor at InHerSight. Her writing primarily focuses on workplace rights, job searching, diversity, and allyship, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in media and journalism from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

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