Colin Powell: In His Own Words

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Much will be said in the coming days about former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who died today from COVID complications. However, no reflection upon his life would be complete without looking back at some of the things he said and the things he valued.

Below are some quotes from the man himself. They illuminate a man who valued compromise, hard work, and who cared deeply for his country in ways most Americans cannot fathom.

Read below to learn more about an American hero, in his own words.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

“But just as they did in Philadelphia when they were writing the constitution, sooner or later, you’ve got to compromise. You’ve got to start making the compromises that arrive at a consensus and move the country forward.”

“Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

“Get mad, then get over it.”

“It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.”

“Diplomacy is listening to what the other guy needs. Preserving your own position, but listening to the other guy. You have to develop relationships with other people so when the tough times come, you can work together.”

“My own experience is use the tools that are out there. Use the digital world. But never lose sight of the need to reach out and talk to other people who don’t share your view. Listen to them and see if you can find a way to compromise.”

“Children need to get a high-quality education, avoid violence and the criminal-justice system, and gain jobs. But they deserve more. We want them to learn not only reading and math but fairness, caring, self-respect, family commitment, and civic duty.”

“Standing in support of children is something we should all be able to get behind, regardless of party affiliation.”

“War should be the politics of last resort. And when we go to war, we should have a purpose that our people understand and support.”

“Indeed, we’re strongest when the face of America isn’t only a soldier carrying a gun but also a diplomat negotiating peace, a Peace Corps volunteer bringing clean water to a village, or a relief worker stepping off a cargo plane as floodwaters rise.”

“Many interviewers when they come to talk to me, think they’re being progressive by not mentioning in their stories any longer that I’m black. I tell them, ‘Don’t stop now. If I shot somebody you’d mention it.'”

“The country would be a lot better off if we stopped having comment sections. And if we got rid of Twitter.”