Illustration for article titled Michelle Obama On Lean In: That Shit Doesnt Work All the Time
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In a December 1 appearance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to promote her new book, Becoming, Michelle Obama said what we’ve all been thinking about the concept of having it all: it’s a great big lie.


According to Touré (via The Cut), when asked about work life balance, leaning in, and having it all, Obama replied, “That whole ‘so you can have it all.’ Nope, not at the same time. That’s a lie. And it’s not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn’t work all the time.”

The concept of “leaning in” was the subject of a 2013 book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook. In the five years since the book’s release, much has been written and debated about the idea, which Sandberg herself recognizes hasn’t really made much impact yet.


Obama also discussed what has worked for her, including finding support from people who believed in her after a high school guidance counselor told her she “was not Princeton material.”

After the crowd erupted at the word “shit,” Obama quickly apologized: “I forgot where I was for a moment,” she told them.

This post has been updated to more accurately attribute the source. 

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My middle school guidance counselor said I’d never finish high school because I didn't have great grades. Not only did I finish high school AND college, but I have a graduate degree with work experience in all three branches of the federal government. I went ballistic when she and another teacher who bullied me tried to do the “I knew LooseSeals when...” after my hometown paper did a profile on me. (I even called out that teacher in public. Caused a scene!)

Those guidance counselors never want anyone to do better than they did. That’s why they say shit like that.