Back in the early 1990’s, America, along with millions across the entire world, were gripped by the awe-inspiring and spectacular achievements of a man from Chicago at the pinnacle of his career. This man was none other than NBA legend, Michael Jordan. As the starting shooting guard in the midst of a championship run, Michael Jordan and the 1991-1992 Chicago Bulls were on the verge of winning their second NBA Championship. Facing the Portland Trailblazers, in the first game of the NBA Finals, Jordan put on one of the most memorable performances of his career. He hit six three-point shots on the way to a 35-point first half, an NBA record. After wowing the crowd with a dazzling shooting performance and after sinking yet another three-pointer, Jordan looked over to the broadcast table and shrugged his shoulders. Even he couldn’t believe what he had accomplished in that moment. That summer, the sports drink brand Gatorade started to run a new television ad campaign to link its signature product with their signature endorser, Michael Jordan. The television commercial featured images and clips of his many epic shots, combined with kids, as well as adults, mimicking his every move. They copied his style of dress, his shoes and some even copied his personal habits, like his famous “tongue wag”. The song and tagline used in the commercial has since become a pop culture staple: “Be like Mike.” Men, women, young, old, Black, White, it did not matter what you looked like or who you were, EVERYONE wished and wanted to be like Mike.
Twenty-five years later, on January 20, 2017, the people of this nation, along with millions of others worldwide, will also be moved by the spectacular achievements of another man from Chicago at the pinnacle of his career as well. However, this man is not Michael Jordan. This man is the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. And January 20th will be the last day of his historic presidency. It has been a presidency ripe full of success and accomplishments that are unparalleled, if not simply astonishing.
- He is the nation’s first Black President.
- He stopped the worst economic decline since the Great Depression with the longest period of job growth in history.
- He saved the auto industry and housing market, two of the largest economic sectors in America.
- He provided health care access to 20 million Americans bringing the uninsured rate to the lowest in the nation’s history.
- And, he brought justice to the most wanted terrorist in the world, Osama Bin Laden.
With an agenda as ambitious as his commitment to see it through, President Obama was not going to be denied. It was his goal to make America succeed. And at the end, by any credible metric, his presidency is an undeniable success. Under his leadership, the American people have also largely shared in that success. Millions have been inspired, motivated, enlightened, protected, rewarded and saved by Barack Obama’s leadership and decision-making.
On January 20th, one of this nation’s most accomplished chief executives will begin a new life as a private citizen. He will no longer be our duly elected leader. The reality of not having Barack Obama and his family in the White House, has left many today wondering who will we (and future generations after us) look up to for our example of great leadership? Others have said to me publicly, “What are we going to do when Barack Obama is gone?”, as if the world will stop on January 21st. The world will not stop. It will keep going and so will we. The question of where we look for leadership in the future is the acknowledgement of a notion bigger than President Obama himself. It is the notion of how we carry on as citizens of this great country. This is a question about the legacy of Barack Obama.
As someone who first met Barack Obama in 2006, later playing an important role in his campaign to become President and ultimately becoming a senior leader working on his signature domestic policy achievement, the Affordable Care Act, I have had an incredible opportunity to know him personally and see his greatest qualities up close. In all honesty, over the last eight years, we all have had the incredible opportunity to watch greatness before us. Not simply because of his policies or politics, but because of his ability to move us. His vision, his ability to communicate and his drive caused us to open our hearts and minds. His passion and commitment is what made me and others around him follow his example. His actions taught us, individually, how to be great leaders ourselves. By his very nature and with the way he has conducted himself publicly and privately, President Obama has given us the blueprint for all of us to follow. THAT is his true legacy for all of us. And while we will no longer have Barack Obama to lead us as President, we can still have Barack Obama inside each of us, as our model for great leadership. The same passion and vigor that inspired millions of basketball fans worldwide to want to emulate Michael Jordan and everything he did on the basketball court, to be like Mike, is the same passion and discipline that we will need from every American who has a desire to impact in this world. Only now, the path has been made clear to us by Barack Obama. How we lead in our own lives will be his legacy. So, starting on January 20th, we need to strive to Be Like Barack. We need to strive to operate in our lives, our families, our businesses and in our communities, the same way we saw Barack Obama conduct himself as our nation’s leader. In doing so, like Mike, you too will be amazed by what you will be able to accomplish. So, as this epic presidency ends, as I celebrate the culmination of the 2,616 days that I campaigned, worked for and served my country in his administration, I want to offer to you the ten most important things I learned about being a leader from Barack Obama. I hope you will use them, as I have, to be a more engaging, effective and impactful leader in my corner of the world. More specifically and more succinctly, here are the
Ten Things We ALL Can Do To Be Like Barack:
1. Always Remain Calm and Humble
2. Love Your Family First and Make Them Your Priority
3. Grow Your Mind and Use Your Intelligence
4. Surround Yourself with Smart People Who Can Challenge Your Ideas
5. Always Remain Hopeful through Adversity
6. Always Celebrate Your Achievements with Temperance
7. Never Be Afraid to Stand Alone
8. Never Respond to Hate and Ignorance with Hate or Ignorance
9. Be a Servant Leader Who is Willing to Sacrifice for Others
10. Have the Audacity to Believe that YOU Can Do Big Things and Succeed at Big Things