Thank You, Mr. President

Affirmations from Obama’s Farewell Address

So that really happened, huh? There was a collective “deep exhale” of an entire country, a showering of social media with impeccable imagery of the first president that looks like me, and entanglement of divisive news and rhetoric of hope.

The Farewell address of the 44th President of the United States of America seems like a fallacy.

We needed President Barack Hussein Obama, but at times it feels as if we didn’t deserve him. After the culmination of President Obama’s last speech to our nation, I reflected on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008 as if it was yesterday. I submitted my first election ballot, wearing a tall tee with Obama’s proud face as a symbol of hope, and sat with my family as we watched the first African American family elected to our highest office.

In a blink of an eye we balance the epitomized hope of 2008, and desired hope for 2017 and beyond; we juggle the “Yes, we can” of 2008, with the “Yes, we did” of 2017, and a “Yes, we (still) can” for the future.

Below are the affirmations I extracted from President’s Obama’s final speech.

Pete Souza/The White House

1. BE Vigilant. (But not Afraid).

“If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.”

On the heels of one of the most corrupt and corrosive elections, our community is full of confusion and uncertainty. President Obama instills a value that made and makes America Great — fearlessness. It is up to us to stand up to what is right and just.

Your opposition (whether a country, principle, or idea) cannot match your influence unless you give up what you stand for.

C’mon, what is fear?

Pete Souza/The White House

2. BE Accountable.

“We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others.”

As mentioned previously, making excuses for where you are today brings you no closer to where you want to be tomorrow. With divisiveness and separatist mindsets you only widen the gap you’ll eventually need to build a bridge across. Don’t sit back and blame the system, if you’re just sitting back, take accountability for your future and make the change you want to see.

Pete Souza/The White House

3. BE Present.

“Show up, dive in, stay at it. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir in goodness, that can be a risk. And there will be times when the process will disappoint you.”

We’ve seen President Obama, dive in, and succeed in more areas than we can probably recollect. Health Care Reform, War in Iraq, Elimination of Osama Bin Laden, Cuban Reform, Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ Climate Change, Hate Crime Protection, FDA Regulation of Tobacco — the list is literally longer than you have time form.

When you see something that you don’t agree with, show up, and be present; dive in, and make a change. As Obama said, you may win or you may lose — but at a bare minimum, you will be in the same place where you are today.

Pete Souza/The White House

4. BE Ready.

“You believe in a fair, and just, and inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace, you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands.”

Hey entitled, self-centered, narcissistic millennials, we got next. Jokes aside, it’s great to see a leader who breathes life into the positive potential of the next generation — unselfish, altruistic, and creative. It is time to rise up, time to stop waiting, and time to make our future what we want it to be.

As he alluded to, we will outnumber any other generation — we are the desired hope of tomorrow. There’s no longer time for excuses, only time for execution; we’re up to bat and I hope you step up to the plate swinging.

Pete Souza/The White House

5. BE Hopeful.

“I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that ideas whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes, we can. Yes, we did.”

Slaves received their freedom. Immigrants are thriving in America. Neil Armstrong planted our flag on a floating rock in the sky. What do you mean you can’t accomplish your dream? Hope is, and will always be, the fuel that powers your future success. President Obama’s 2008 campaign was fueled by hope and change, but let’s not forget his 2012 campaign was catalyzed by moving that hope and change forward.

We look back at history and think, “Yes, that’s how it should have happened;” but rarely put ourselves in the shoes of the past and think of how far-fetched that change may have seemed. Let your forward hope energize and inspire those around you to continue to make that change you want to see.

Pete Souza/The White House

6. BE GREATful.

“…you are the best supporters and organizers anybody could ever hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because you did change the world.”

It takes a village, President Obama never fails to give credit to others. It is the understanding that we stand on the shoulders of others, that the whole is greater than the sum of all parts, and that each individual on this planet possesses an inherent value that can aid us in accomplishing the unimaginable.

Surround yourself with supporters, with cheerleaders, with those that know more than you, and those that look up to you — that is how to change the world.

I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.

So, thank you, Mr. President and First Family — it has been one hell of an eight years; we got you from here.

Pete Souza/The White House

Be Great,

To connect with me or see what I’m up to, visit, and follow me on Instagram at @thatguybmills!