General Colin Luther Powell – The Political General


Military Career – 1958-1993

War is war and there will be casualties,” – Colin Luther Powell



Throughout Powell’s career, he followed his own 13 Rules of Leadership. Powell used these thirteen rules to guide him throughout his career.


Powell’s thirteen rules of leadership are as follows:


1. It ain’t as bad as you think.

2. Get mad, then get over it.

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

4. It can be done.

5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it

6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.

7. You can’t make someone else’s choices, 8. Check small things.

9. Share credit.

10. Remain calm.

11. Have a vision.

12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.

13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

These thirteen rules of leadership guided Powell in every decision he made throughout his career.



Colin Powell’s military career is a very long and distinguished career that eventually culminated in Powell becoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest position in the United States military. His military career got its start after his graduation from City College when he became Second Lieutenant and went to basic training at Fort Benning. His first assignment was with the 48th Infantry in West Germany, where he was a platoon leader. During his first tour in Vietnam, which lasted from 1962 to 1963, he was a Captain who served as a South Vietnamese Army Advisor.  While on his first tour, he was patrolling a Viet Cong area and he stepped on a Punji Stake wounding him and which also shortened his first tour. His second tour of duty in Vietnam lasted from 1968 to 1969. On his second tour, he was an Army Major at thirty-one years old, and his assignment was to investigate the My Lai massacre. This event was when three hundred civilians were killed by the United States military. During this tour, he was injured when the helicopter he was in crashed. However, he still rescued his fellow comrades from the wreckage. For his bravery and valor, Powell was awarded the Soldier’s Medal.


First, we’re going to cut it off, then we’re going to kill it” – Colin Luther Powell

A young Powell during one of his tours in Vietnam.

A young Powell during one of his tours in Vietnam.