I get much of my news and laughter from ‘The Daily Show with John Stewart.’ The faux-reporter exposés are my favorites (John Oliver was brilliant in the rain at the Queen’s Jubilee.) While I usually skip the celebrity interviews, I did watch the interview with Colin Powell, who was there to promote his new book It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership. This memoir is organized by the 13 rules that guide Powell’s life decisions. When asked for the distilled version, Powell said the first and the last rules essentially cover the gamut. Here they are.
1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
The thirteenth rule surprised me. When he talked about it on TV, Powell spoke in terms of always being optimistic and how in the military that means having the leverage to change things. In writing it seems more mysterious. A force multiplier – as in, “May the force multiplier be with you?”
What I take away from his words is the idea of optimism not as sunny side of the glass half-full feeling, but as a strategic tool. I’ve been sharing this story with clients as they finalize preparations for their podium presentations, and it has led to some interesting discussions. Optimism is not just a state of heart, but a state of mind. It is strategy.