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  • - We don't score a touchdown every time,

  • but we move the ball forward.

  • John F. Kennedy didn't look up at the moon

  • and say aww, that's too far.

  • None of us can afford to be complacent.

  • Stuff gets better if we work at it.

  • It wasn't because of my brilliance or something

  • that these things happened.

  • They spend time thinking about polls

  • but not about principle.

  • Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was.

  • You can't take yourself too seriously,

  • you have to take the job seriously.

  • We get real exercise for about two weeks

  • and then we fall asleep for two years.

  • Winston Churchill was dismissed

  • as little more than a has-been

  • who enjoyed scotch a little bit too much.

  • - He's the 44th and current president of the United States

  • and the first African American to hold the office.

  • - He's a graduate of Columbia University

  • and Harvard Law School.

  • - He was inaugurated as president on January 20th, 2009.

  • - He's Barack Obama

  • and here are his top 10 rules for success.

  • - We have looked at a whole slew of problems

  • when we came into office.

  • And we've said, where can we advance the ball down the field

  • each and every time, across the board.

  • And we don't score a touchdown every time,

  • but we move the ball forward.

  • - Do you feel like you've hit the metrics

  • that you wanted to hit, even within--

  • - You're always going to fall short

  • because if you're hitting your marks

  • that means you didn't set them high enough.

  • That's what hope is, imagining,

  • and then fighting for, and then working for

  • what did not seem possible before.

  • That's leadership.

  • John F. Kennedy didn't look up at the moon

  • and say aww, that's too far.

  • We can't go, false hopes.

  • Martin Luther King didn't stand on the steps

  • of the Lincoln Memorial and say,

  • go home everybody, the dream's deferred, false hopes.

  • Ya'll need a reality check.

  • (audience applauds)

  • There is a moment in the life of every generation

  • when that spirit of hopefulness has to come through,

  • if we are to make our mark on history.

  • We too often let the external, the material things

  • serve as indicators that we're doing well,

  • even though something inside us tells us

  • that we're not doing our best.

  • That we're avoiding that which is hard,

  • but also necessary, that we're shrinking from

  • rather than rising to the challenges of the age.

  • And the thing is, in this new hyper-competitive age,

  • none of us, none of us can afford to be complacent.

  • That's true whatever profession you choose.

  • Professors might earn the distinction of tenure

  • but that doesn't guarantee that they'll

  • keep putting in the long hours and late nights

  • and have the passion and the drive to be great educators.

  • The same principle is true in your personal life.

  • Being a parent is not just a matter of paying the bills,

  • doing the bare minimum.

  • It's not just bringing a child into the world that matters,

  • but the acts of love and sacrifice it takes

  • to raise and educate that child,

  • and give them opportunity.

  • The one thing that I feel deeply about,

  • and this is something I'll feel deeply about

  • when I leave government is,

  • stuff gets better if we work at it

  • and we stay focused on where we're going.

  • It doesn't immediately get all solved

  • and I warned against this when I was running for office,

  • because everybody had the hope posters and the this

  • and the that and everybody was feeling like--

  • - Hey, we didn't make those, you made those!

  • (audience laughing)

  • - No, no, no, no! - What'dya blamin' us?

  • - No, no, no, no, no! - That wasn't us.

  • - Hang on a second. No, no, no, I like them.

  • - I'm pretty sure that came from you.

  • - It was a nice poster. - All right.

  • - No, but what I'm saying is that,

  • if you look at what I said at the time,

  • I said, "This is going to be an ongoing project".

  • And it's a project of citizens.

  • It's not just, fix it.

  • It's how do we work together

  • to get things done,

  • and it will be imperfect.

  • - [John] Yes.

  • - But, over time, is it better?

  • And here's the thing I can say, John.

  • - [John] Yes.

  • I can say this unequivocally.

  • The VA is better now than when I came into office.

  • It is better now than when I came into office.

  • Government works better than when I came into office.

  • The economy, by every metric, is better

  • than when I came into office.

  • And so, the reason I can sleep at night,

  • (audience applauding)

  • is I say to myself, you know what, it's better.

  • Now, am I satisfied with it?

  • No, and should voters be satisfied with it?

  • Absolutely not, because otherwise you know

  • if we get complacent and lazy then stuff doesn't happen.

  • You just don't succeed

  • in any endeavor

  • unless you've got a team that's been supporting you.

  • And, that's part of my political philosophy.

  • It's really based on my own experience,

  • which was if somebody hadn't been out there

  • looking out for me,

  • starting with my mom, my grandmother, my grandfather,

  • then I wouldn't have made it.

  • It wasn't because of my brilliance or something

  • that these things happened, it had to do with people

  • investing in ya.

  • And so we've got to make sure we're investing

  • in the next generation, just like somebody invested in us.

  • I want to highlight two main problems

  • with that old, tired me-first approach to life.

  • First of all, it distracts you from what's truly important.

  • And it may lead you to compromise your values

  • and your principles and your commitments.

  • Think about it.

  • It's in chasing titles and status

  • and worrying about the next election

  • rather than the national interests

  • and the interests of those who you're supposed to represent

  • that politicians so often lose their ways in Washington.

  • (audience applauding)

  • They spend time thinking about polls,

  • but not about about principle.

  • It was in pursuit of gaudy short-term profits

  • and the bonuses that came with them,

  • that so many folks lost their way on Wall Street,

  • engaging in extraordinary risks with other people's money.

  • In contrast, the leaders we revere,

  • the businesses and institutions that last,

  • they are not generally the result of a narrow pursuit

  • of popularity or personal advancement

  • but of devotion to some bigger purpose.

  • The preservation of the Union, or the determination

  • to lift a country out of a depression.

  • The creation of a quality product.

  • A commitment to your customers, your workers,

  • your shareholders, and your community.

  • A commitment to make sure that an institution

  • like ASU is inclusive and diverse

  • and giving opportunity to all.

  • That's the hallmark

  • of real success.

  • We know that too many young men in our community

  • continue to make bad choices.

  • And I have to say growing up, I made quite a few myself.

  • Sometimes I wrote off my own failings

  • as just another example of the world trying

  • to keep a Black man down.

  • I had a tendency sometimes, to make excuses

  • for me not doing the right thing.

  • But one of the things that all of you have learned

  • over the last four years is there's no longer

  • any room for excuses.

  • (audience applauding)

  • I understand there's a common Fraternity creed

  • here at Morehouse, "Excuses are tools of the incompetent

  • "used to build bridges to nowhere

  • "and monuments of nothingness."

  • Well, we've got no time for excuses.

  • Not because the bitter legacy of slavery

  • and segregation have vanished entirely, they have not.

  • Not because racism and discrimination

  • no longer exist, we know those are still out there.

  • It's just that in today's hyper-connected,

  • hyper-competitive world with millions of young people

  • from China and India and Brazil,

  • many of whom started with a whole lot less

  • than all of you did,

  • all of them entering the global workforce alongside you,

  • nobody is going to give you anything

  • that you have not earned.

  • Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was.

  • Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination.

  • And moreover, you have to remember that whatever

  • you've gone through, it pales in comparison

  • to the hardships previous generations endured

  • and they overcame them.

  • And if they overcame them, you can overcome them too.

  • Part of the way that you survive the stress

  • of the White House

  • is being able to laugh with your team

  • about some of the crazy stuff that happens.

  • And, you know, you can't take yourself too seriously,

  • you have to take the job seriously.

  • You have to take your responsibilities seriously.

  • But, you have to be able to laugh at yourself

  • first and foremost in order

  • to be able to manage the whole thing.

  • You have to have a plan,

  • you have to have a strategy

  • and then you have to have stick-to-it-ness

  • because you know the strategy

  • is not going to immediately bear fruit.

  • The American character is one that lurches

  • between spasm and trance.

  • We get real exercise for about two weeks

  • and then we fall asleep for two years.

  • And what Charles Hamilton Houston understood is

  • that our vision extends decades.

  • It extends generations.

  • And those young men I talked about,

  • we may not be able to reach them right now,

  • but I tell you what,

  • if we set the trend lines just a little bit better

  • then the infant that's crying in Compton

  • or Harlem, or Anacostia, or the ninth ward,

  • that infant may have a different future.

  • And then when that infant has a different future,

  • the country has a different future.

  • And then we as a people have a different future.

  • So, there's got to be an understanding of how

  • time can actually help us move mountains

  • if we're working with time, we're not waiting for time,

  • we're working with it.

  • You may have setbacks and you may have failures

  • but you're not done.

  • You're not even getting started.

  • Not by a long shot.

  • And if you ever forget that, just look to history.

  • Thomas Paine was a failed corset maker, a failed teacher

  • and a failed tax collector

  • before he made his mark on history

  • with a little book called, Common Sense

  • that helped ignite a revolution.

  • (audience applauding)

  • Julia Child didn't publish her first cookbook

  • until she was almost 50.

  • Colonel Sanders didn't open up his first

  • Kentucky Fried Chicken until he was in his 60s.

  • (audience laughing)

  • Winston Churchill was dismissed as little more

  • than a has-been who enjoyed scotch a little bit too much

  • before he took over as Prime Minister

  • and saw Great Britain through it's finest hour.

  • No one thought a former football player

  • stocking shelves at the local supermarket

  • would return to the game he loved

  • to become a Super Bowl MVP

  • and then come here to Arizona

  • and lead your Cardinals to their first Super Bowl.

  • (audience applauding)