Originally uploaded by jdickins_photo
For weeks before attending the over-hyped and under-producing University Presidential Inaugural Conference, I told people I was going to see Colin Powell–oh, and that inauguration thing as well. Ever since reading It Doesn’t Take a Hero: The Autobiography of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf in middle school, where he describes in passing the intensely practical and centered leadership of then Chair of the Join Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, I have placed Colin Powell among my pantheon of people I would like to be like. (This pantheon includes, Sandra Day O’Connor and my parents).
So my hopes for his speech were quite high as all 5000 UPIC attendees were shuffled, like cattle, into a University stadium.
Too high for the circumstances it turned out. I found his speech generic, with a solid but bland message on leadership. He said leadership requires followership, true leaders do not not metaphorically eat before their subordinates do, not just talking but doing.
His commitment to those who served under him was impressive, but I was not inspired or enthused after his speech. Perhaps, had it not been 8am on a Sunday morning surrounded by 4,999 of my best friends, I could have gotten more out of his speech.
This does nothing to diminish my respect for him, but I don’t feel I learned anything more about him having heard him speak.
Only the mediocre are always at their best., Jean Giraudoux