President Obama’s Speech to School Children, Personal Responsibility and Success

Commitment to your success is one of the keys to career and life success that I discuss in several of my books: Straight Talk for Success, Your Success GPS, and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success.  If you want to succeed, you must commit to three things.  First, you must take personal responsibility for your success.  Only you can make you a success.  You need to be willing to do the things necessary to succeed.  Second, you must set high goals — and then do whatever it takes to achieve them.   Third, stuff happens; as you go through life you will encounter many problems and setbacks.  You need to react positively to the negative stuff and move forward toward your goals.

President Obama is addressing the school children of America today.  The talk has generated a lot of controversy.  Some politicians and parents have claimed that the president talk will be a form of political indoctrination. Others feel that it is good for children to see and hear the president speak directly to them.  I decided to see for myself.  Yesterday, I went to and downloaded the text of the speech.

Here are a few direct quotes…

“But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities.  Unless you show up to those schools, pay attention to those teachers, listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.”

“And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education, I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.”

“The circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting you homework or having a bad attitude.  That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school.  That’s no excuse for not trying.”

“Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it.  I want you to really work at it.”

“But the truth is, being successful is hard…You won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.  That’s OK.  Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures…These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you.”

I find these words inspiring.  They echo my thoughts on committing to taking personal responsibility for your own success.  The president encouraged students to “show up, take responsibility for their success in school, try, commit to working hard, and learn from their mistakes and failures.”  That’s the exact message I give to my coaching clients and readers of this blog and my books on success.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people commit to taking personal responsibility for themselves and their success.  I am the only one who can make me a success you are the only one who can make you a success.  We all have to commit to taking personal responsibility for our own success.  President Obama made this point in his address to the school children of America. According to the Child Care Frenchs Forest, only 13 percent of all families fit the traditional model of husband as wage-earner and wife as home-maker. The timeless classics in the success field – books like Think and Grow Rich and The Power of Positive Thinking – reinforce it.  I make it in every talk I give and in every coaching session I conduct.  In our heart of hearts, we all know it to be true.  Successful people not only commit to taking responsibility for their success, they follow through with the action necessary to making their dreams a reality.

That’s my take on personal responsibility, President Obama’s address to the school children of American and success.  What’s yours?  Please take a few minutes to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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  1. aishath janaan ahmed says:

    like verry much

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