Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles - 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.