The Founder of Inspire Leadership & focuses on unlocking people’s potential by providing them with programs; mentorship and coaching into high performance
In October 2016, I was privileged to spend about fifteen minutes with the General, and I was impressed by his humility and his incredible personal presence as someone who truly knows what it is like to practice leadership excellence. Colin Powell was a janitor of a Pepsi bottler, he went on to be the National Security Advisor to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to Secretary of State. In his 283 pages book, It Worked For Me, he shares stories in a conversational style and in short chapters which provide a particular leadership lesson.
If you're looking for advice on leadership, it's good to start with a four-star general. Colin Powell's new memoir, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, is a collection of lessons learned and anecdotes drawn from his childhood in the Bronx, his military training, his career, and his work under four presidential administrations. The memoir also includes Powell's candid reflections on the most controversial time in his career: the lead-up to the war in Iraq in 2003
The key takeaways for me from the book are Powell’s 13 Rules listed below:
1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
2. Get mad, then get over it.
3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
4. It can be done.
5. Be careful what you choose: you may get it.
6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
7. You can’t make choices for someone else. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
8. Check small things.
9. Share credit.
10. Remain calm. Be kind.
11. Have a vision. Be demanding.
12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
My best rule is, it can be done. This is in line with one of my biggest challenges to you about having those big hairy audacious goals(BHAGs). Borrowing from Vincent Van Gogh-“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Most of Powell’s ideas and lessons come from his personal experiences as a Soldier and statesman, and he switches naturally from one to the other. This demonstrates that the leadership lessons are transferable and can be scaled. It does not matter what your position is, age, race or where you are based. The 13 rules work.
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