Colin Powell is an amazing success story. He happens to be a very good story teller as well. In this post I am reviewing his book, It Worked for Me.
It is surprising to me how many people give the book bad reviews simply because they are judging him based on his speech at the UN. To avoid political quagmires, this review is going to take him at his word.
It Worked for Me is broken into six parts. They cover various and broad topics. The subtitle, In Life and Leadership, is a good summary of what to expect. The book feels like an autobiography at times and a leadership manual at other times.
The book begins with the 13 principles of life (aka 13 Rules of Leadership). They are insightful and one of the better lists to lead by that I have seen. I’m not going to repost them all, but comment on the two that I was touched by:
Rule 2: Get Mad Then Get Over It!
It’s ok to get mad 🙂 . This was interesting to read because it goes contrary to what I had heard before. Showing emotions such as anger has been used against politicians as a sign of being out of control. My reaction to this is that it is ok to feel the way that I feel even if it is one of those “rash” emotions. Please comment if you have thought about how this applies to your own life.
Rule 13: Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier!
One of the reasons that leadership is so fun for me is that I am naturally optimistic. Both positivity and negativity are contagious. People (including myself) work better in a positive environment. The leader needs to be the one to set the tone in this regard.
The book then goes into some leadership lessons that Colin has learned during his life along with the stories that go along with the lesson.
There are lots of leadership nuggets that are sprinkled into this section of the book. “One team one fight” is one that will stay with me for a long time. It has always been true that a house divided against itself cannot stand. One team one fight is a way to simplify this message and drive it home.
Colin impresses me with the way he continually mentions how everyone performs a crucial job. This shows a deep appreciation of those around him. He commends those who do vital jobs such as taking out trash and sweeping floors. In this regard, he sets a great example that we all should follow.
The later parts of the book are personal stories. He writes about the lead up to the speech to the UN about weapons of mass destruction. He writes about gifts he has given and received from foreign politicians and diplomats. These stories really have the “just a normal guy” feeling to them. He seems genuinely genuine and quite funny at times as well. His story telling abilities are excellent.
It Worked for Me is an inspirational and uplifting book. It is apparent that it was written by an optimist who believes in the greatness of the people of America.