60 Best Colin Powell Quotes and Sayings for Inspiration

Colin Luther Powell was a distinguished U.S. general and statesman, born on April 5, 1937, in New York.

The first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–93) and secretary of state (2001–05), Powell’s roots trace back to Jamaican immigrants.

Growing up in New York’s Harlem and South Bronx, he graduated from City College of New York in 1958 after engaging in the ROTC.

Powell served in Vietnam, undertook further studies in Washington, D.C. and stepped into politics in 1972 as a White House fellow.


He occupied various significant roles in the Pentagon and by 1989, became a four-star general. Powell played crucial roles in operations like the invasion of Panama and the Persian Gulf War.

Although he retired in 1993, he became secretary of state in 2001 under George W. Bush. His tenure saw controversies, like the Iraq War speech based on incorrect intelligence. Powell authored books including his autobiography, “My American Journey”.

I have listed below the best quotes by Colin Powell.

Best Colin Powell Quotes

1. “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).


2. “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” ~ (Colin Powell).


3. “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” ~ (Colin Powell).

4. “The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” ~ (Colin Powell).


5. “The best method of overcoming obstacles is the team method.” ~ (Colin Powell).

6. “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).


7. “Effective leaders are made, not born. They learn from trial and error, and from experience.” ~ (Colin Powell).

8. “Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.” ~ (Colin Powell).


9. “Get mad, then get over it.” ~ (Colin Powell).

10. “Have a vision. Be demanding.” ~ (Colin Powell).


11. “Always focus on the front windshield and not the rearview mirror.” ~ (Colin Powell).

12. “When we are debating an issue, loyalty means giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I’ll like it or not. Disagreement, at this state, stimulates me. But once a decision is made, the debate ends. From that point on, loyalty means executing the decision as if it were your own.” ~ (Colin Powell).


13. “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.” ~ (Colin Powell).

14. “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.” ~ (Colin Powell).

Popular Colin Powell Quotes

15. “Look for intelligence and judgment and, most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego and the drive to get things done.” ~ (Colin Powell).


16. “Luck tends to come to people who are prepared.” ~ (Colin Powell).

17. “You know you’re a good leader when people follow you out of curiosity.” ~ (Colin Powell).

18. “The most important thing I learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do. You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your personal example they will follow.” ~ (Colin Powell).

19. “The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people.” ~ (Colin Powell).


20. “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).

Top Colin Powell Quotes

21. “The freedom to do your best means nothing unless you are willing to do your best.” ~ (Colin Powell).

22. “None of us can change our yesterdays but all of us can change our tomorrows.” ~ (Colin Powell).

23. “Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.” ~ (Colin Powell).


24. “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.” ~ (Colin Powell).

25. “Always show more kindness than seems necessary, because the person receiving it needs it more than you will ever know.” ~ (Colin Powell).

26. “Respect for leaders by followers can’t be mandated; it must be earned. It has to be given to leaders by their followers.” ~ (Colin Powell).


27. “You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.” ~ (Colin Powell).

28. “Be careful what you choose. You may get it.” ~ (Colin Powell).

29. “Don’t bother people for help without first trying to solve the problem yourself.” ~ (Colin Powell).

30. “It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.” ~ (Colin Powell).

Famous Colin Powell Quotes

31. “You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.” ~ (Colin Powell).


32. “Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.” ~ (Colin Powell).

33. “Don’t be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.” ~ (Colin Powell).

34. “Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.” ~ (Colin Powell).


35. “Every organization should tolerate rebels who tell the emperor he has no clothes.” ~ (Colin Powell).

36. “Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.” ~ (Colin Powell).

37. “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).


38. “Experts often possess more data than judgment.” ~ (Colin Powell).

39. “I think whether you’re having setbacks or not, the role of a leader is to always display a winning attitude.” ~ (Colin Powell).

40. “The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort.” ~ (Colin Powell).

41. “Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.” ~ (Colin Powell).


42. “The ties that bind us are stronger than the occasional stresses that separate us.” ~ (Colin Powell).

Short Colin Powell Quotes

43. “A sense of shame is not a bad moral compass.” ~ (Colin Powell).

44. “Giving back involves a certain amount of giving up.” ~ (Colin Powell).


45. “Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved.” ~ (Colin Powell).

46. “Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.” ~ (Colin Powell).

47. “Good leaders must know how to reward those who succeed and know when to retrain, move, or fire ineffective staff.” ~ (Colin Powell).

48. “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).


49. “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” ~ (Colin Powell).

50. “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” ~ (Colin Powell).

51. “I get over it quickly and never lose control of myself.” ~ (Colin Powell).


52. “It takes more courage to send men into battle than to fight the battle yourself.” ~ (Colin Powell).

53. “Tell them what you know. Tell them what you don’t know. And only then, tell them what you think. And be sure you distinguish among them.” ~ (Colin Powell).

54. “The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.” ~ (Colin Powell).

55. “Fear and failure are always present. Accept them as part of life and learn how to manage these realities. Be scared, but keep going. Being scared is usually transient. It will pass. If you fail, fix the causes and keep going.” ~ (Colin Powell).


56. All work is honorable. Always do your best because someone is watching. ~ Colin Powell.

57. Dig up all the information you can, then go with your instincts. ~ Colin Powell.

58. Never get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it. ~ Colin Powell.

59. There is no end to the good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit. ~ Colin Powell.

60. Never believe the first thing you hear. ~ Colin Powell.

So these were the 60 quotes by Colin Powell.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other popular blog posts on the topics of George Washington quotes and Dr. Seuss quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar