49 Best Colin Powell Quotes

Colin Powell is a legendary American statesman and retired four-star general in the United States Army. During his long and storied career, he held multiple senior military and diplomatic positions, including serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H. W. Bush, Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, and National Security Adviser under Ronald Reagan. His wisdom has been captured in many inspiring quotes that are still relevant today; here are 49 of the best Colin Powell quotations to remind us all of his legacy.

From stressing the importance of courageous leadership to articulating the dangers of international conflict, these quotes from Colin Powell serve as a reminder both for leaders today but also for everyday citizens around the world.

I hope you enjoy these quotes by Colin Powell…

49 Colin Powell Quotes - "A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work."
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1) “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.”

2) “All work is honorable. Always do your best because someone is watching.”

3) “Always focus on the front windshield and not the rearview mirror.”

4) “Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.”

5) “Don’t be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.”

6) “Never believe the first thing you hear.”

7) “Don’t bother people for help without first trying to solve the problem yourself.”

8) “Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.”

9) “Control enthusiasm in the face of victories, large or small.”

49 Colin Powell Quotes - "Dig up all the information you can, then go with your instincts."
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10) “Dig up all the information you can, then go with your instincts.”

11) “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.”

12) “It’s a disgrace that we have millions of people who are uninsured.”

13) “There is no end to the good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

14) “Experts often possess more data than judgment.”

15) “Fear and failure are always present. Accept them as part of life and learn how to manage these realities.”

16) “The freedom to be your best means nothing unless you are willing to do your best.”

17) “Get mad, then get over it.”

18) “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.”

19) “The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort.”

"I think whether you’re having setbacks or not, the role of a leader is to always display a winning attitude."
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20) “I think whether you’re having setbacks or not, the role of a leader is to always display a winning attitude.”

21) “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.”

22) “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.’”

23) “There is no end to the good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

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

25) “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.”

26) “You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.”

27) “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.”

28) “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.”

29) “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.”

"Always be looking for that which you do well and that which you love doing, and when you find those two things together - man, you got it."
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30) “Always be looking for that which you do well and that which you love doing, and when you find those two things together – man, you got it.”

31) “Always show more kindness than seems necessary because the person receiving it needs it more than you will ever know.”

32) “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.”

33) “Never get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.”

34) “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”

35) “Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing.”

36) “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

37) “Don’t just show kindness in passing or to be courteous. Show it in depth, show it with passion, and expect nothing in return. Kindness is not just about being nice; it’s about recognizing another human being who deserves care and respect.”

38) “Never neglect small details, even to the point of being a pest. Moments of stress, confusion, and fatigue are exactly when mistakes happen. And when everyone else’s mind is dulled or distracted, the leaders must be doubly vigilant. Always check ‘small things.’”

39) “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.”

"Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard."
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40) “Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.”

41) “If you take the pay, earn it. Always do your very best. Even when no one else is looking, you always are. Don’t disappoint yourself.”

42) “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.”

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

44) “Trust is the glue that holds people together and is the lubricant that keeps an organization moving forward.”

45) “War should be the politics of last resort.”

46) “What could be more important than equipping the next generation with the character and competence they need to become successful.”

47) “Whenever you start-give it your best. The opportunities are there to be anything you want to be. But wanting to be someone isn’t enough; dreaming about it isn’t enough; thinking about it isn’t enough. You’ve got to study for it, work for it, fight for it with all your heart and soul because nobody is going to hand it to you.”

48) “It ain’t where you start in life, it’s where you end up, and what you did along the way.”

49) “You don’t step on enthusiasm.”

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