How Colin Powell Outperformed All of The Rest

COLIN POWELL MADE HEADLINES again today with some unflattering comments he made about Hillary Clinton and her husband in a leaked e-mail. While this post isn’t about today’s headlines, it reminded me about another Colin Powell story featured in my book.  I want to share with you now because of the wonderful lesson in courage and fortitude it teaches.

Powell’s character and personal philosophy enabled him, one of the Army’s first African American officers, to rise through the ranks from first lieutenant to a four-star general, not to mention Secretary of State after that.

Powell recalled an early experience in his Army career when a superior told young Lieutenant Powell that he did his job very well “for a black officer.” Powell said he was taken aback until he returned to the BOQ (base officers quarters) and began to think about it.

Powell decided to perform his job better than any officer. He did. And nobody has to remind you of the results. Powell was not only the first black officer, but also the first officer who didn’t attend West Point in order to rise through the ranks to become a four-star general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after that.

As mentioned earlier, I included this story in my book under the chapter titled “You’re Neither Too Young or Tool Old” because of the lesson it shows how you, too, can outperform the rest by consistently doing your best. Performance knows no prejudice. When it comes to using your skills, everybody is born equally. A study of almost two hundred seventy Harvard graduates makes the point.

The survey analyzed why some succeeded and others failed. People born to wealthy families did not do better than those from poor backgrounds. So the luck of the draw in how you were born does not apply to your success. Everybody has an equal chance in America.

It’s how you respond to major setbacks in life that makes the difference. You have choices.

Colin Powell chose performance. You, too, can rise to the top by performing your tasks better than your coworkers.

The book mentioned above is Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach. It coaches job finders—in one-minute coaching vignettes—how to apply all of the important job-finding techniques to their campaigns. You might want to recommend this book to someone you know who is looking for a job.

CLICK HERE to order. 

Copyright ©2016 by Ransom (Randy) Place

About the Author

RANDY PLACE IS A JOB-FINDING and executive coach, writer on career topics, broadcaster, and host of For twenty-three years, he helped thousands of employees who had been let go from JPMorgan Chase find jobs. And he coached executives at CBS Television, Pitney Bowes, and major outplacement firms in New York on job-finding techniques, communications skills, and selling strategies. An accomplished seminar leader and speaker, Randy has designed and presented workshops on interviewing, telephoning techniques, job-search writing, and sales training nationwide. Randy's groundbreaking nationally syndicated radio series, Your Career Service, has been heard on over two hundred radio stations across the United States. And his articles on career topics have appeared in the Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly. A former broadcast journalist in New York, he has also been a commercial spokesperson for an array of national and regional advertisers. In addition, Randy was a sales executive at NBC Radio and the New York City sales manager for syndication at Wolper Productions. He holds a Bachelor's in Sociology and Broadcasting from Syracuse University, and a Master's in Journalism from New York University.