With the passing of Colin Powell, I think it only right that we reflect on some of the principles that he lived by. Being the first African American Secretary of State was only one of many accomplishments in his life. He broke down barriers, built bridges, and served his country. I feel we would all benefit from taking a look at 13 rules he tried to live by. Below I’ve listed those 13 life principles and how they relate to myself. What do these principles mean to you?
1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
I can’t tell you many times I’ve read something or heard something that made me upset and it was late in the evening. Luckily my wife has always been there to help remind me to take deep breaths. Although, it’s extremely difficult to see while you’re in the moment, almost every situation, however stressful, benefits from coming at it with cool head. After a good night’s sleep, everything is brighter and it’s much easier to tackle the issues.
2. Get mad, then get over it.
A very wise friend once told me “Anger itself isn’t the sin, it’s what you do with that anger that becomes the sin”. I feel that advise is very close to this principle. It’s okay to get angry and it’s okay to be upset about something. Just be careful what you do while you’re angry. That’s the get over it part. Get angry, take a moment and then get over it and let it go.
3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
This one should be posted in big bold lettering on every news site in my opinion. Right now, more than ever before we are experiencing this inability by people to move off of their own opinion. Just because you have a position, doesn’t mean it’s the correct position. Everyone would benefit from being open to other people’s points of view. We all need to check our egos and understand that none of us know everything there is to know about everything. We can learn a little something from everyone. Take time to listen with an open mind and an open heart.
4. It can be done.
These words are extremely powerful. Sometimes, just saying them to yourself, they become truth. If you’re working towards something, constantly remind yourself that it can be done and let these words become a self fulfilling prophecy.
5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
This is another one that speaks right to my heart. We don’t always get what we want, but often times we get what we need. Be sure that what you’re asking for is actually something that you want. Sometimes that shiny apple is filled with poison.
6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
Sometimes you have to go with your gut. I can tell you right now, that my own gut feeling has saved my life in more situations than I’d like to admit. Sometimes you just have to trust it and I feel that is something that relates to this one. Sometimes your gut tells you not to eat that blue cheese and other times it will tell you, hey I think it’s time to leave this party and head home. Listen to your gut, it may just save you.
7. You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
This one, is extremely important, but I also feel it’s one of the hardest to swallow. You can’t make anyone’s choices for them, be them friend or family, their lives are their own. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t offer advice, but once that advice is offered, its up them whether to take it or not. On the same note, you shouldn’t let anyone else make your choices either. Often times, I find it helps to listen to many points of view before making a big decision.
8. Check small things.
I feel this one sort of explains itself.
9. Share credit.
Always, always share credit. This is just my opinion, but I almost never feel like my accomplishments are mine alone. I’m lucky enough to have built myself a good support system and team. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them and I feel they deserve to know just how much they have helped and that it’s very much appreciated.
10. Remain calm. Be kind.
Another one that should be bold letters. If someone is raging, the situation isn’t going to benefit from two people raging. It’s best to remain calm and keep a cool head. Not only does this aid you, but it might just rub off on someone else and they will remain calm in an equally troubling situation.
11. Have a vision. Be demanding.
I think this relates to having a goal and not being afraid to fight for it. People and situations might try to stand in your way, don’t be afraid to be demanding and move forward
12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
Another wise friend once told me to not be afraid to make the big decisions. There are so many things that we wish we could do, but we don’t because we are afraid. Don’t let anything get in your way, even your own fears. Sometimes, we have to put on our adult pants and make the big decisions.
13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
Although this is listed as number 13, I feel that this is the most important. The power of optimism is great. If you’re constantly looking for the negative than all you will find is the negative. But, if you keep your head up and your eyes open, you can and will find the positive. Once, you’ve found a spoonful, a truckload isn’t far behind. Approach every situation with optimism and watch as situations around you improve.
I am in no way saying that what I’ve wrote down here is what Colin Powell meant by these principles. This is just a little bit about what they mean to me. I felt I had to write something regarding his passing. Thank you for service Mr. Powell, Rest in Peace.