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Colin Powell Quotes Praising Preparation and Hard Work

Our latest collection of Colin Powell quotes that will inspire and motivate you to work hard for your dreams.

Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the US Army. He is a former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Powell was born in Harlem, New York on April 5, 1937, to Jamaican immigrants. After graduating from college in 1958, Powell joined the military and was a professional soldier for 35 years. He published a best-selling autobiography, My American Journey, in 1995.

When President George W. Bush appointed Powell to the position of secretary of state in 2000, he became the first African-American to hold a position this high in the U.S. government.

Since leaving government office, Powell has been involved with several business ventures as well as working with charities and children’s groups.

Powell has received many awards, including two Presidential Medal of Freedom. Besides, he holds honorary degrees from universities and colleges across the nation, and several institutions have been named after him.

Colin Powell inspires many with his leadership skills and life experiences. In his honor, below is our collection of inspirational, wise, and thought-provoking Colin Powell quotes.

For more inspiration, also check out our collection of service quotes about country and community.

Colin Powell quotes praising preparation and hard work

1. “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” –  Colin Powell

2. “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

3. “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

4. “Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.”  – Colin Powell

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

Colin Powell quotes praising preparation and hard work

6. “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.” – Colin Powell

7. “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.” – Colin Powell

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8. “Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.” – Colin Powell

9. “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.” – Colin Powell

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

Colin Powell quotes on life and leadership

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

12. “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

13. “What could be more important than equipping the next generation with the character and competence they need to become successful.”  – Colin Powell

14. “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” – Colin Powell

Colin Powell quotes on life and leadership

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

16. “It ain’t where you start in life, it’s where you end up, and what you did along the way.”  – Colin Powell

17. “Always show more kindness than seems necessary because the person receiving it needs it more than you will ever know.”  – Colin Powell

18. “Trust is the glue that holds people together and is the lubricant that keeps an organization moving forward.”  – Colin Powell

19. “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.” – Colin Powell

20. “The best method of overcoming obstacles is the team method.”  – Colin Powell

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Colin Powell quotes that will inspire you to make your dreams a reality

21. “Look for intelligence and judgement 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

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.”  – Colin Powell

23. “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

24. “The freedom to be your best means nothing unless you are willing to do your best.” – Colin Powell

Colin Powell quotes that will inspire you to make your dreams a reality

25. “Good leaders set vision, missions, and goals. Great leaders inspire every follower at every level to internalize their purpose, and to understand that their purpose goes far beyond the mere details of their job. When everyone is united in purpose, a positive purpose that serves not only the organization but also, hopefully, the world beyond it, you have a winning team.” – Colin Powell

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

27. “We need to understand that we as citizens and as a government in any community throughout this country have no more important obligation than to educate those who are going to replace us.”  – Colin Powell

28. “Have fun in your command. Don’t always run at a breakneck pace. Take leave when you’ve earned it, spend time with your families.” – Colin Powell

29. “War should be the politics of last resort. And when we go to war, we should have a purpose that our people understand and support.” – Colin Powell

30. “The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort.” – Colin Powell

Colin Powell quotes on hard work and success

31. “You should never be so involved with your position/job that when the position is gone your entire self-image is gone with it.” – Colin Powell

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32. “If you get the dirty end of the stick, sharpen it and turn it into a useful tool.” – Colin Powell

33. “The ties that bind us are stronger than the occasional stresses that separate us.” – Colin Powell

34. “Each of us is a product of all our experiences and all our interactions with other people.”  – Colin Powell

Colin Powell quotes on hard work and success

35. “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

36. “All work is honorable. Always do your best, because someone is watching.”  – Colin Powell

37. “There is no end to the good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”  – Colin Powell

38. “I have always tried to keep my confidence and optimism up, no matter how difficult the situation.”  – Colin Powell

39. “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.”  – Colin Powell

40. “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 stage, stimulates me. But once a decision has been made, the debate ends. From that point on, loyalty means executing the decision as if it were your own.”  – Colin Powell

Which of these Colin Powell quotes was your favorite?

Colin Powell started his American journey from ordinary circumstances and found his calling in the military. He has been committed to protecting the nation and advancing democratic values.

Powell’s entire adult life has been in the service of his country. He has been committed to seeing that young people receive the resources they need to succeed. Hopefully, his words of wisdom will inspire you to work hard to make your dreams a reality.

Did you enjoy these Colin Powell quotes? Which of the quotes was your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below.

Norbert Juma, Lead Editor
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    June 25, 2020 at 3:13 AM

    “Good leaders set vision, missions, and goals. Great leaders inspire every follower at every level to internalize their purpose, and to understand that their purpose goes far beyond the mere details of their job. When everyone is united in purpose, a positive purpose that serves not only the organization but also, hopefully, the world beyond it, you have a winning team.”

  2. Billy

    April 16, 2020 at 3:46 PM

    “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.”

  3. Tom Jordan

    April 9, 2019 at 8:15 PM

    History will record Powell as being a pathetic failure. His dishonest speech before the UN in 2003 ( plays in an endless loop as a testament to his lack of moral courage. His actions resulted in the unnecessarily death of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands Iraqis. Their blood will forever be on his hands.

  4. Stewart C

    February 20, 2019 at 10:22 PM

    I loved the one about not neglecting details. Something with which I could and can readily identify.

  5. Gemma Estrada

    February 20, 2019 at 12:12 PM

    My respect and admiration for Gen. Colin Powell has and is tops. My preferred quote is based on Loyalty and Integrity, if you fail get up and keep on going. I just think Gen. Colin Powell is a man which inspires INTEGRITY, PATRIOTISM, CLASS, DIGNITY, MORAL CHARACTER among so much more. Would be an honor to meet but don’t think it would happen. Gen. Colin Powell is what we need as PRESIDENT as Commander and Chief. We need his class, integrity, morals, dignity,loyalty and his true love for our country. GOD BLESS this amazing PATRIOT!

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