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Color of Money: Michelle Obama is right. We can't have it all.

Michelle Singletary on

WASHINGTON -- I've never liked the "lean in" movement.

And now I can say that out loud since former first lady Michelle Obama recently spoke some real truth during her promotional tour for her new book "Becoming."

At a Brooklyn appearance last weekend to promote her book, "Becoming," Obama talked about her marriage, motherhood, work and balancing it all. How do you achieve success without sacrificing too much?

"I tell women that whole 'you can have it all,' nope, not at the same time, that's a lie," Obama said. "It's not always enough to lean in because that s -- doesn't work."

In a candid moment, Obama cussed. Yes, it's impolite to use profanity, especially in public, but there are some issues that bring out the cussing spirit, as my pastor likes to joke.

Here is a woman who seems like she truly has it all, giving the rest of us mere mortals the OK to breathe a sigh of relief that some things will get dropped trying to do it all.

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I intend no offense to Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and the movement she sparked by her 2013 book "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead." Yet Sandberg added more pressure to women by making their failure to ascend to leadership a fault.

"I continue to be alarmed not just at how we as women fail to put ourselves forward, but also at how we fail to notice and correct for this gap," Sandberg wrote.

The mission that spawned the "lean in" mantra was well intentioned. There aren't enough women in corporate leadership roles. And it's often not their fault.

"Throughout my life, I was told over and over about inequalities in the workplace and how hard it would be to have a career and a family," Sandberg said.

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