Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A collection of quotes by Colin Powell on inspiration, strategy, leadership, focus, success, achievement, optimism, perfection and ambitions.

92 Famous Quotes By Colin Powell, The Distinguished Military Leader And Diplomat

Quick Facts

Famous As: 65th United States Secretary of State

Born On: April 5, 1937

Born In: New York City

Colin Luther Powell is a former U.S. four star general and statesman, who had also served as the United States Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. Powell grew up in New York City, where he studied at Morris High School and later went on to study geology at City College of New York. Powell joined the US military after completing his education and he was a soldier for a span of 35 years, rising up to become a four star general. He had also been a part of the Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War and Invasion of Panama. From 1987 to 1989, he also served as the National Security Advisor of the United States under the Reagan administration and later on he became the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - a position he held from 1989 to 1993. Following his retirement from the US Military he became a public speaker and also authored his autobiography titled ‘My American Journey’, which went on to become a runaway success. A decorated army General and leader, Powell delivered many speeches during his stint with the army, and during his stint as a diplomat and later became a motivational leader and writer too. His quotes have been excerpted from his speeches, writings and lectures. Presenting a collection of Colin Powell’s quotations and sayings. 
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Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.

Colin Powell

Always focus on the front windshield and not the review mirror.

Colin Powell

Don't bother people for help without first trying to solve the problem yourself.

Colin Powell

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.

Colin Powell

If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.

Colin Powell

It ain't as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.

Colin Powell

Giving back involves a certain amount of giving up.

Colin Powell

If a leader doesn't convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they'll start to fall down and get depressed.

Colin Powell

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.

Colin Powell

Never neglect details. When everyone's mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.

Colin Powell

Get mad, then get over it.

Colin Powell

No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.

Colin Powell

Bad news isn't wine. It doesn't improve with age.

Colin Powell

Experts often possess more data than judgment.

Colin Powell

There are no secrets to success: don’t waste time looking for them. Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty to those for whom you work, and persistence.

Colin Powell

In other words, don't expect to always be great. Disappointments, failures and setbacks are a normal part of the lifecycle of a unit or a company and what the leader has to do is constantly be up and say 'we have a problem, let's go and get it'.

Colin Powell

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.

Colin Powell

Fit no stereotypes. Don't chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team's mission.

Colin Powell

Today I can declare my hope and declare it from the bottom of my heart that we will eventually see the time when that number of nuclear weapons is down to zero and the world is a much better place.

Colin Powell

Don't be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.

Colin Powell

Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing.

Colin Powell

Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.

Colin Powell

When you decide to get involved in a military operation in a place like Syria, you've got to be prepared, as we learned from Iraq and Afghanistan, to become the government, and I'm not sure any country, either the United States or I don't hear of anyone else, who's willing to take on that responsibility.

Colin Powell

I think whether you're having setbacks or not, the role of a leader is to always display a winning attitude.

Colin Powell

It's a disgrace that we have millions of people who are uninsured.

Colin Powell

We got rid of a terrible dictator. We gave the Iraqi people an opportunity for a new life under a representative form of government.

Colin Powell

You should see what our Founding Fathers used to say to each other and in the early part of our nation. But what they were able to do, especially in Philadelphia in 1787, four months, they argued about what a House should be, what a Senate should be, the power of the president, the Congress, the Supreme Court. And they had to deal with slavery.

Colin Powell

I consider myself a moderate Republican. I have very, very moderate social views, and I'm pretty strong on, on defense matters.

Colin Powell

Too often we act - ask our schools to be truant officers, our teachers to be truant officers, because we're giving them children who have, you know, they're not ready to learn. And if they're not ready to learn by the third grade, they know they're behind.

Colin Powell

There are lots of countries that are having these kinds of internal civil wars in other parts of the world and nobody is talking about intervening.

Colin Powell

The chief condition on which, life, health and vigor depend on, is action. It is by action that an organism develops its faculties, increases its energy, and attains the fulfillment of its destiny.

Colin Powell

The only bipartisanship you ever see is when they finally sign a bill and everybody says, 'Gee, isn't that wonderful?'

Colin Powell

We need to understand that we as citizens and as a government in any community throughout this country have no more important obligation than to educate those who are going to replace us.

Colin Powell

So like any football or basketball coach, you always always believe you're going to win.

Colin Powell

I try to be the same person I was yesterday.

Colin Powell

Don't let your ego get too close to your position, so that if your position gets shot down, your ego doesn't go with it.

Colin Powell

I respect the fact that many denominations have different points of view with respect to gay marriage and they can hold that in the sanctity in the place of their religion and not bless them or solemnize them.

Colin Powell

Look at the world. There is no pure competitor to the United States of America.

Colin Powell

Some of the generals are saying, 'We're making progress. We are clearing an area.' But you really don't defeat the Taliban by clearing an area. They move.

Colin Powell

The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise.

Colin Powell

I don't want to spend the rest of my life giving speeches.

Colin Powell

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.'

Colin Powell

The freedom to do your best means nothing unless you are willing to do your best.

Colin Powell

It's nice to say let's be bipartisan. But we're a partisan nation. We were raised as a partisan nation.

Colin Powell

I don't know that there is much the United States can do except work with the international community.

Colin Powell

I always like to take my time and examine the two candidates, see not only the two candidates but the policies they will bring in, the people they will bring in, who they might appoint to the Supreme Court, and look at the whole range of issues before making a decision.

Colin Powell

90 percent of my time is spent on 10 percent of the world.

Colin Powell

I was born in Harlem, raised in the South Bronx, went to public school, got out of public college, went into the Army, and then I just stuck with it.

Colin Powell

Perpetual Optimism is a Force Multiplier.

Colin Powell

The purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced - the just demands of peace and security will be met - or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.

Colin Powell

Have fun in your command. Don't always run at a breakneck pace. Take leave when you've earned it, spend time with your families.

Colin Powell

The United States is not stingy. We are the greatest contributor to international relief efforts in the world.

Colin Powell

Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.

Colin Powell

I don't think we handled the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad as well as we might have. But that's now history.

Colin Powell

Politics is not bean bags. It's serious, tough stuff.

Colin Powell

It's not just a matter of whether you support Obama or Romney. It's who they have coming with them. I always keep my powder dry, as they say in the military.

Colin Powell

You don't know what you can get away with until you try.

Colin Powell

A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.-Colin Powell

Colin Powell

Wouldn't it be great if we could look forward to a whole world in which no child will be left behind?

Colin Powell

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.

Colin Powell

Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.

Colin Powell

I think the Iranians are clearly determined to have a nuclear program. And we have to assume that with a nuclear program they have the capability and the will to create a nuclear weapon.

Colin Powell

You can't just have slogans, you can't just have catchy phrases. You have to have an agenda. And I think what the Republican Party has to do, if it's going to incorporate the tea party efforts in it, is to come up with an agenda that the American people can see, touch, and actually believe in, and something they believe in.

Colin Powell

We all hoped in 2001 that we could put in place an Afghan government under President Karzai that would be able to control the country, make sure al-Qaeda didn't come back, and make sure the Taliban wasn't resurging. It didn't work out.

Colin Powell

What you're seeing with Occupy Wall Street and the others are people who are unhappy and they're directing their unhappiness now toward Wall Street and toward those they think are doing too well in our society.

Colin Powell

It isn't enough just to scream at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. We need our political system to start reflect this anger back into, 'How do we fix it? How do we get the economy going again?'

Colin Powell

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hardwork, and learning from failure-

Colin Powell

In terms of the legal matter of creating a contract between two people that's called marriage, and allowing them to live together with the protection of law, it seems to me is the way we should be moving in this country.

Colin Powell

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who can cut through the argument debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.

Colin Powell

Keep looking below surface appearances. Don't shrink from doing so just because you might not like what you find.

Colin Powell

It was the Congress that imposed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' it was certainly my position, my recommendation to get us out of an even worse outcome that could have occurred.

Colin Powell

Foe means enemy. Now, will we have differences of opinion with the Russians? Yes. Will they get mad at us from time to time, and we get mad at them? That's part of the normal diplomatic relations.

Colin Powell

The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort.

Colin Powell

You should never be so involved with your position/job that when the position is gone your entire self image is gone with it.

Colin Powell

If you get the dirty end of the stick, sharpen it and turn it into a useful tool.

Colin Powell

There are no secrets to success. It's the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure.

Colin Powell

Economy's got to get moving, we've got to get the unemployment rate down. That may be the defining issue of the campaign.

Colin Powell

The ties that bind us are stronger than the occasional stresses that separate us.

Colin Powell

Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves.

Colin Powell

The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.

Colin Powell

It takes more courage to send men into battle than to fight the battle yourself.

Colin Powell

I'm not perfect but I'll be the creator of perfection.

Colin Powell

Our strategy in going after this army is very simple. First we are going to cut it off, and then we are going to kill it.

Colin Powell

Perpetual optimism is a force leveler

Colin Powell

I like Holiday Inns

Colin Powell

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers.

Colin Powell

Freedom to be your best means nothing unless you are wiling to do your best.

Colin Powell

We can seldom get our children to do what we tell them, but they almost never fail to imitate us.

Colin Powell

I was taught to think about mission and people. Mission. What are you trying to accomplish? Don't do anything until you know what the mission is. Drilled into our hearts and into our heads.

Colin Powell

A sense of shame is not a bad moral compass.

Colin Powell

A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

Colin Powell

Each of us is a product of all our experiences and all our interactions with other people.

Colin Powell