so uncomfortable with all the attention. She lives in the White House. It’s not something she would ever want for herself. But she will do everything she can to support me, to support my children, to support her son-in-law. And it’s that kind of foundation that is greater than any degree that I could ever have. That is what sustains people. It’s like having that kind of unconditional love.
So as you get older, know that the family you build is probably the absolute and most important thing you can do for the world. So never shirk on that responsibility. And you don’t have to be great to build greatness. And that’s what my mother taught me. And in so doing she is incredibly — she’s an incredible woman. She didn’t really know it.
DR. RAMPHELE: Wonderful. So you hear how important mothers are. I feel a little bit more important than I did earlier on. (Laughter.)
We are now going to have a question from Jesse. Jesse comes from the Cape Academy school.
Q My question is, how would you define success?
MRS. OBAMA: How would I define success? I read somewhere — I’m sure somebody important said it, but some people say success is when opportunity meets preparation. Right? So I think one of the most important things you can be is prepared. And preparation means you have to have a good education, first and foremost.
There is just no — there’s no alternative, and there shouldn’t be. And to have a good education means you have to work hard and you have to take your education seriously. You got to do your homework. Finish what you start. Be there. Be on time.
And the one thing I always say is that you have to practice success. Success doesn’t just show up. And if you’re not practicing success today, you won’t wake up in 20 years to be successful because you won’t have developed the habits of success, right, which is small things like finishing what you start; and putting a lot of effort into everything you do; being on time; treating people well.
You can get into the habit of just bad habits. So you’ll have to practice it now so that you get into the habit of, well, this is naturally what I do. I put 120 percent into everything I do, even if it’s washing my socks, right?
So — and I think finally the last thing I think that defines success is being a good person, you know, because you can have all the money in the world and all the titles, and if you’re just not good, you don’t treat others well,