Saturday, June 30, 2012

It Worked for Me in Life and Leadership

Colin Powell is a hero of mine for many reasons. He rose to the rank of four-star general in the United States Army.   He was the first African-American to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as Secretary of State.  To the best of my knowledge, he was the first ROTC-commissioned officer to become chair of the Joint Chiefs.  Powell has served his country as a diplomat under three U. S. Presidents.  He is a Republican who refuses to be partisan.  And, most of all, he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

One of Powell’s greatest talents, however, is his skill as a story teller.  Colin told the story of his rise from the streets of the South Bronx to halls of power around the world in A Soldier’s Story (2001) and My American Journey (2003). Others have written about his diplomatic work and his leadership philosophy.  In It Worked for Me, Powell shares his own approach to leadership, personal responsibility, relationships, and work.  Although his anecdotes about various world leaders and celebrities are interesting, he also shares stories about the little known people who helped him along the way and the Army officers with whom he served.  One of the more humorous essays concerns his pet peeves as he travels today as a professional speaker—unfamiliar plumbing fixtures for example.

I highly recommend this book. Although Powell tends to see military life through rose colored glasses, he is on target with his assessment that it is one of the few institutions where a person from an impoverished and/or minority background can succeed through hard work, discipline, and commitment. Once you have read the book, you will understand why he is one of the most popular motivational speakers on the circuit today.

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