Monday, August 19, 2013

Colin Powell: Impeccable Leader with Humble Beginnings

Yesterday I shared the first in a series on this year's Global Leadership Summit. Well, today I share one of the Summit's special treats for me: former - and the first African American - US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

When I hear a person speak in this kind of forum, I always learn things about them I didn't know. General Powell mentioned that people often ask him to share all the great military schools he attended. Some even ask him, "So what year did you graduate from West Point?"

Actually, General Powell admitted he wasn't a great student. Segregation forbade him from attending the best military schools. And he'd graduated as a rather average student from City College in New York.

I was floored to hear this.

But I was also inspired and encouraged as a Mama. 

General Powell's admission to a mediocre school career gave me hope for my children - some who make wonderful grades, and one who struggles through school for average results. He reminded me that the jury is still out on all my kiddos - and your kiddos too.

As parents, we cannot assume that our C-students will land a C-level career. We also cannot assume that our A-students will find total success post-college graduation. They will all struggle on some level. They will all succeed on some level.

We must trust our children to the Lord who created them - their minds, their talents and their creativity. And if they avail themselves to His will, He who created them will direct their futures.

But get this: my child or your child could one day become a great leader like Colin Powell. And that C in Math does not negate that possibility.

Okay, now that I got that out of my system... I'll share two inspiring quotes from Gen. Powell's talk:

"Leaders inspire people to reach beyond themselves."

A recurring theme during the Summit was - Leadership is not about me. Leadership is about others.

When Gen. Powell spoke these words, I had to stop and get to tweeting. Because leadership is not just reaching beyond myself to do what I may have thought impossible. It is encouraging YOU to reach beyond YOURSELF to do what YOU thought impossible.

When we all reach beyond ourselves, maybe we can solve the worlds problems. Human trafficking. Poverty and hunger. Orphaned children.

Now fill in the blank and go encourage someone else to reach beyond him or herself to solve that world problem.

"As we move forward, let's not forget others behind us."

Chances are, if you're reading this blog post, you've got some people "behind" you. You've got children or nieces and nephews. You may have some people you supervise at work or at least someone who serves in the position you used to fill. There's a younger generation of folks in your church or community. 

Whoever you consider "behind" you, serve these people. Bless them. Use your influence to speak up for them, especially if they have no voice.

General Powell also encouraged his fellow leaders to focus on their followers. After all, they are the ones that really do the work and the mission of any organization. He also advised us to constantly show people that they're important - no matter what role they fulfill in an organization - or church, or family.

I wholeheartedly agree. After all, people are truly important to God.  

And they should be just as important to you and me.


  1. Hi Carla. This was a VERY very very good post. I have not taken the time to get to this main page to post anything in response to what you write on DEEP WATERS (I read it in e-mail and you can't respond directly that way~~sorry), but this was VERY very good! Great observation: There's hope for all children and there's responsibility for all adults. Yes- grades and schools don't guarantee "success", but heart and mentorship do. Hearts connected with the heart of Jesus and selfless mentorship. No set pattern(s) to follow. What a great conference and opportunity to hear from Mr. Powell and other great leaders. The right place at the right time. Have a blessed school year!!!

    1. Thank you Zarina for taking the time to comment here! When I hear powerful words from others, I love to pass them on. I agree that Gen. Powell's personal "testimony" spoke as deeply as his speech did - especially to us moms! Bless you and have a blessed school year as well!