Colin Powell and his 13 rules to live by

By Randy Snyder
Oft times when a great leader passes on, I like to read more about them. Colin Powell left us in October of 2021 at 83 years of age. He was an amazing accomplished patriot that was a soldier and an army officer, later a politician, statesman and diplomat. He served with distinction as the first African American secretary of state, also serving as the 16th National Security advisor and lastly went on to become the 12th chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. He served for 35 years in the army rising to four-star General and commander of the US Army forces!


My curiosity when looking at the chronological recount of patriots such as Powell, is to glean their backgrounds and look for those idiosyncrasies that had an influence in their lives ultimately ascending them to deserved greatness! Many years ago when in corporate America, we presented a film that has had a lasting impact on me personally. The title of the video produced by the University of Colorado was “You are what you are because of where you were when!” In the case of Colin Powell, he was born of Jamaican immigrant parents in Bronx, New York and in over 35 years as a professional soldier, unequivocally experienced many events that lead him to greatness and superior leadership serving with distinction in whatever position he held. “Where he was and when he was there developed him to what he became!”
Powell applied his 13 rules of life in his day to day. I found them very interesting and they follow, along with some of my anecdotal comments, highlighted in italics after each rule:
It ain’t as bad as you think. –Remember, the glass is half full, not half empty
Get mad, then get over it! – Staying mad leads to bad actions and behavior
Spend the time needed for a good plan! – Perfect planning leads to perfect results. Each step in the plan takes you closer to the end goal or objective!
Be careful when you choose! –Hasty choices can end in failure. Contemplation, planning and thought lead to good outcomes.
Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of good! –Don’t surrender to roadblocks along the way, seemingly a reason to give up!

You can’t make someone else’s choices!- – Respect their choices and ideally, they will respect your choices
When your ego does not line up with your position and the position fails, do not let your ego go down with the failure. – – Your ego and self worth and self esteem and self confidence must be upheld at all costs!
It can be done! – – The ultimate attitude for achievements that seem insurmountable and difficult!
Have a vision! –All great leaders can foresee positive results contingent on applying the energy to complete the journey, not just the short term spring! After all, Life is a marathon, not a sprint!
Remain calm no matter what! – Patience and the ability to stay calm will get you through the task at hand, losing patience will result in additional consumptions of time!
Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers. – Cast your fears aside and ignore negative comments and the people that make them!
Check small things! –The lack of attention to details, big and small, leads to failure. “You won’t get run over by elephants, but mosquitoes bite the hell out of you!
Share Credit! – Recognize everyone involved, no matter what they contributed! Give fair recognition to all but spectacular recognition and/or reward for spectacular work and contributions!
As I reviewed the 13 rules as it applies to my life and “where my life is today”, I found several of the rules that have been lax or overlooked and needed more attention by me personally! Perhaps, a review of these rules internally as it applies to you and your life can help you to identify your outlook and focusing on those rules that need work to improve yourself.


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