As I was pondering what to write for the blog this month, I happened to glance at a plaque that has been next to my desk for the past 25 years. The plaque is “General Colin Powell’s Rules”, his thoughts to live by that he collected over the years. His “rules” have always been inspirational and motivational to me and have served as a moral compass as I evaluate my interactions with friends, colleagues, and family. I find the words provide nourishment for my soul. So on this beautiful day, I share them with you and hope that you find they also provide you with an inner peace and hopeful outlook on your professional and personal life. His “rules” are written in bold, with my commentary following. Enjoy!
1. IT AIN’T AS BAD AS YOU THINK. IT WILL LOOK BETTER IN THE MORNING. It is amazing how your perspective can positively change with a little distance and time!
2. GET ANGRY AND THEN GET OVER IT. Continuing to fume over a maddening situation does nothing to solve the issue. It is okay to vent angry feelings but then move on with solutions.
3. AVOID HAVING YOUR EGO SO CLOSE TO YOUR POSITION THAT WHEN YOUR POSITION FAILS, YOUR EGO DOES TOO. You are not your job. You are a person who has the opportunity to fill a job. If the job goes, your life goes on!
4. IT CAN BE DONE. Always remember the little engine that could. A positive outlook goes a long way in achieving success.
5. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU CHOOSE. YOU MAY GET IT. Think ofthe story about the dog that chased the car and, when he caught it, he did not know what to do with it. If you plan to chase a “car”, make sure you have a plan in place for what’s next.
6. YOU CAN’T MAKE SOMEONE ELSE’S CHOICES; YOU SHOULDN’T LET SOMEONE ELSE MAKE YOURS. Sometimes we make choices based on data. Sometimes we make choices by gut instinct. You can ask for advice and counsel but eventually you have to make the choice that you believe is in your best interest and then be prepared to live with the consequences.
7. CHECK SMALL THINGS. Yes, it is true, the devil is in the details. Check and double check is a great rule to live by.
8. SHARE CREDIT. Try to replace “I, my, mine” with “We, our, and ours”. This is fundamental advice for successful team building.
9. BE KIND. Enough said.
10. HAVE A VISION. BE DEMANDING. Knowing where you are going is the best way to ensure that you get there.
Do you live by Colin Powell’s rules? I certainly try!
Dr. Jill Nilsen
Dr. Jill Nilsen has more than 35 years experience working at Eastern Illinois University and was responsible for all of the external outreach to their many customers. She was responsible for marketing, communications, fundraising and building strong alumni relationships. She also is an active volunteer in the regional nonprofit sector having served as board president of the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce, Excellence in Education Foundation for Charleston, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center Board, and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Jill and her husband Hank reside in Charleston.