Obama and You – Ways to Change the World


I’m one of the millions who’s flocked to DC to inaugurate a President and hopefully an era of hope. At a reception, I was telling someone about the leadership work I do, and he asked “Who’s your target audience?” I replied, “Everybody.” I titled my book Everyday Leadership, because I fervently believe everyone can lead. So, here I am – like the entire nation and much of the world – watching one guy to see how he’ll lead us. I’m thinking: Shouldn’t we all be able to take something away from this phenom, in whom we have placed so much hope? Not just about what he’ll do for us, but about what we can learn from him as we lead. What’s your Obama takeaway? I don’t mean about politics and national leadership. I mean about you – in your world (because in a sense we’re all “world leaders”). I look at him and think, “wow, I’d like to be more like that,” and here’s the model that he sets that inspires me:


Courage. He had zero business running for President. He was too young, had spent too little time in the Senate, was too little connected, too poorly known, too much in the middle of raising young kids, too “left” on the war, and face it, too dark-skinned. Darn, if he didn’t run anyway!!! What do I think I have no business doing? I’m gonna do some of that.


Honesty. In his early memoir Dreams From My Father, he tells his story – all of it – even the part about inhaling. When the issue of race was dogging him, he spoke very deep truths, unafraid of the supposed societal gulf, not afraid to challenge the right or the left. He didn’t mince words. It should be no secret that high-priced political consultants tell candidates, “Don’t answer the question you’re asked; answer the question you want to answer.” Obama has done some of that, but for the most part he’s been quite direct. The older I get the more I find that honesty frees. It frees the teller and it frees the follower. I want to stop holding back.


Steadfast, measured confidence. He seems to play government leadership like Tiger plays golf, or Jordan played basketball. He’s unflappable, and that calms those around him. In my world – of too much work, teenage kids, Michigan’s economy, etc. – I act with what I believe deepdown: things will work out. I can help make some small contributions to making them work out, and I can stay cool while I do it..

If you watch the inaugural activities – whether you’re blue, red or purple – I invite you to open yourself to specific inspiration. Let Obama give you hope for America and the world, but also the inspiration to recommit in your world to

 Lead with your best self,



  • Dan, you articulated the essence of what makes Obama an inspiring leader for leaders and ordinary people across the globe. It is indeed his courage, honesty and steadfastness — and might I add integrity, passion and vision — that makes him the right leader at the right time to inspire and represent us in the world. Thank you for being right on!

  • This is a darn good read – so good that I am gonna print it off and take it to work to pin up as well as put it on the frig as a reminder of just what the human spirit with unbridled will and commitment can accomplish.

    Really great read. Thank you

  • This really is a good article. It reminds me of the Perseverance poster that describes how Lincoln reached the presidency despite the odds being overwhelmingly against him.

    Very inspirational. Thanks, Dan.

  • Thank you – I read your messages and they really help me pick myself up again and find the courage to ‘stay the course’ – keep telling the hard truths in order to promote the change that is so needed with the right thing to do!

    Very inspirational – I forward these to my fellow managers
    thank you

  • Excellent article, well written, very apt in the current scenario..Thanks for this – looking for your continued inspiring articles

  • I voted for Mr. Obama. I have only one wish for 2009. The wish is that Mr. Obama signs an Executive Order declaring that the USA will be joining the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands. Bush and his cabal’s mass murders and crimes against humanity must be prosecuted. The USA cannot be above the law. We are not the sole dictator to the world of what is right and what is wrong.

  • Dan, you have captured many of what I have seen as our President’s model, but I think you missed a BIG one…his sense of humor. You can not face the problems we will be facing while sweating the small stuff. We watch his smile, his laugh and we are lightened and encouraged. When a mistake occurred during the swearing in, he just nodded and encouraged. When later someone asked him about it…he said it was his mistake…way to back up the team. You have said this before, it is not how we handle our succusses but our challenges…hope and happiness…are they so far apart?

  • My personal “take away” (and I beleieve this was a common feeling), is validation for all the times I’ve marched and rallied for civil rights, worked on civil rights committees, voted for visionary leaders who never got elected, and developed programs to help women and minorities.

    Validation for all the times I was told you “don’t belong here”, “this job is not for you”, and I did not quit, for all the times I stood up, spoke aloud against bias and discrimination, for all the times I questioned myself and if the effort would make a difference.

    Yesterday, the pain and disappointment was lifted and for a shining moment, the promise of the America that I had always believed was fulfilled.

  • I agree – this is something worth forwarding to my managers. I feel great about having a President who thinks just like I think and approaches the role of government as he challenges us all to do. We must watch this man and see how he does it. There are so many paranoid, dishonest and politically fickle leaders in government that he has a handful. The hope comes from the fact that he is at the peak of government and not near the bottom like many of us who think like him, and in between are the others who have made things go so, so very wrong. My take away – now I may be inspired to step forward with the case for responsibility and accountability with courage and persistence right here in Michigan goverment.

  • My take away is that (as Obama’s wife continuously tells him) becoming an effective leader is all about igniting positive emotions in the people you are attempting to lead.

    A leader must speak to people’s personal developmental level in communicating the vision, courage and hope necessary to bear the uncertainty and hurt required when making the required changes to move forward.

  • Well stated and one of your better writings of late. It is often much easier to walk away and use the excuse that I am not qualified, or it is someone else’s fight to fight not mine. Your last comment about steadfast calm is so true.

  • Thank you, Dan. As always, you are so in the moment that you are able to take in AND take away AND share with the rest of us in a way that really makes a difference. I took away a renewed commitment to self-discipline, to staying conscious to what really lights me up and being in action about THOSE things.

    Your steadfast confidence comes through very strongly too, Dan, and the value you provide is needed in Washington DC as well. I certainly hope your path is heading that way! Thank you.

  • Good job, Dan. As I listened to President Obama yesterday, and candidate Obama over the past several months, I got the sense that he knows well about “mountains” as they have functioned in all our faith traditions. It seems he knows with Moses, Jesus, and Buddha that being called to the mountain and standing at the pinnacle is important, but it’s coming down from the mountain and back into the marketplace that counts. Nothing is changed unless we come down. I’m guessing that after all the dancing yesterday, the lights were probably on early in the Oval Office today. We can each bring the incredible vision from the mountaintop and make it real in the marketplace.

  • Dan,
    I agree with your personal take-aways from President Obama and would add that for me he exhibits incredible emotional intelligence. He appears to have great self awareness, emotional self management (shows the appropriate emotions for the moment), empathy, of course self confidence and inspirational leadership. He also is able to call on teh leadership style that is reqwuired for the situation and use those strengths in behaviors and competencies required to successfully use the style whether is is being partcipative or directive or setting the pace.

  • Thanks so much for that thught provoking ‘leading…’ and nudging us to take the next step with Obama’s address.

    Leading is always about taking responsibility for ourselves first.
    you help me do that with your newsletter

  • Dan…THANKS. What a wonderful reflection! As I, too, reflect on Obama, “AUTHENTICITY” is the word that rushes to mind. He is so “real” and obviously comfortable in his own skin! I have been listening to his books on tape and it’s heartwarming to hear his voice…straight forward, humorous, lilting and gliding as he imitates his characters and brings them to life…curse words and all! I remember when he was here in Michigan stumping for the Governor a few years back. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet him as he stood next to you and the Governor. I told him if he ran for President that I would vote for him. He tossed his head back and laughed that laugh and smiled that smile! “Sure…thanks” was his reply. I’m excited for America…for the hope that we, too, can imitate his “authenticity” and really become comfortable in our own…and each other’s…skin!

  • President Obama, even with his formula of disagreeing without being disagreeable, has incited a revolution. The revolution may not pop out to most persons as something radical, but only high minded, honest, and other good things; but most of President Obama’s agenda is an assualt on the status quo. Billions of dollars are lined up to go against the Obama plans. Thousands of lobbyests, and think tank “experts” are in the ready to dismantel the Obama agenda.

    As long as the economic crisis lasts, the undermining of President Obama will be subtle. Once there is a hint that the economy is turning up, a war, in a sense will begin. This war will be the quintessetial example of what Al Gore call the Assault on Reason. Mark John Hunter – Alpena

  • Great job identifying Obama’s courage, honesty and confidence Dan. Homerun!

    I would add his listening and communication skills, linked with his emotional maturity gave me the feeling there could be no one better for our country’s leadership. His vision is far reaching and he is realistic in acknowledging the tasks at hand. I can’t wait to see if he can motivate and move everyone he has inspired to take action!

    I think its just fun to talk about what we saw & experienced! What a teaching/learning moment in history. I can’t wait to talk to my son who attended the inauguration as a high school student when he returns tonight.

  • What I appreciate about him is not so much these high-minded but mushy ideals, but his decision-making style: INCLUSIVE of many diverse opinions, and not making a decision until he’s really honestly listened to these opinions without judging them bad or wrong along ideological lines, but only on the PRAGMATIC criterion of WHAT WORKS, no matter who submitted the idea.

    These are leadership strategies that work at every level because two heads are better than one and 200 million heads are better than an arrogant so-called “leader” who’s just on a self-promotional head trip, imagining that he knows what’s best for all. That’s a path to destruction, as we have seen over the past 8 years.

  • Dan, I am in complete agreement with your take on the our new president. They are my exact sentiments from the first time I got a “glimpse” of the man.
    (Our character is quite evident whether we realize it or not.)

    You might add under the heading of Courage that his name was a hindrance in the minds of many Americans. (He could have changed it to Brock O’Bama, or something, right?) Yet, he remained courageous and confident of who he was.

    May the values he demonstrates strengthen in all of us.

  • I agree with the your first statement about our new President.
    By all the rules that the establishment has set up, he had no business running. I am so glad he did! I look at him as a breath of fresh air. I feel that he will be successful because he appears to have no committment to big business, and does his homework on any given subject before he acts. He
    understand that it will take all of us working together to again make our country prosperous for everyone.country

  • Dan.

    I am so energized and optimistic about taking back our country that I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing as I stood there in Washington. D.C., out in the cold with one of those coveted tickets watching the 44th President of the United States being sworm in.

    It is an event that has changed me forever! The up side is that it has changed many of my Republican friends as well. HOPE is in the air!

    If we all do our part CHANGE (POSITIVE CHANGE) is going to happen in our country!! You are absolutely right! We are all leaders and we must all do our part.

    The TIP Lady

  • I am looking through the lens of opprotunity, in this land of opprotunity. What I see are great things, for great people, within arms length.

    Thomas K. Burke

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