Once Again – Now He Belongs to the Ages
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

The statement, “Now he belongs to the ages,” was made following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and I do not intend to minimize its magnitude in any way. Still, I feel it is also fitting to say it at the passing of Secretary Colin Powell. Our nation lost this great public servant on October 18, 2021. Born in Harlem to Jamaican immigrants, Powell served four United States presidents from 1986 to 2005. He was a four-star general who served as Deputy National Security Advisor, National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and United States Secretary of State.

As the first Black Secretary of state, Powell not only paved the way but also mentored Condoleezza Rice, who would follow as the first Black woman Secretary of State. He was seen as the calming voice of reason in administrations with hardliners and hawks. Like President Lincoln, Powell led with kindness and firm conviction. One of the legacies he left behind is his 13 Rules of Leadership. Here are a few I have chosen to share in this post.

  1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning. Powell realized things are never as bad as we think, and if we change our thinking and apply ourselves to finding a solution, tomorrow will be a better day.
  2. Get mad, and get over it. I just love this one. The Secretary knew that there would always be days when people push to the edge. There will always be circumstances that seem out of control, and you will want to get mad, and that is okay. Getting mad is okay; just get over it. When we don’t acknowledge the emotions, we suppress them, and they surface at the worst possible times.
  3. It can be done. When you think of all the obstacles the Secretary faced, this rule allowed him to maintain the proper forward-looking mindset. He realized that a shift in thinking from we can or we can’t to how can we is vital.
  4. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. Optimism is infectious and maintaining this optimism as leaders builds confidence in our teams. They will borrow our optimism and spread it to others. I feel this says it best, “Believe in your purpose, believe in yourself, and believe in your people. They will believe in you.”

If you would like to hear the rest of Secretary Powell’s 13 Rules of Leadership, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 228 of The Next Page podcast as we review the entire list. I hope you will join us.

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