Recommended by Bill

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My American Journey by Colin Powell

This book was originally on my list. For some reason I removed it, and I've been puzzled as to why I did that ever since. This is an amazing book that tells the story of Colin Powell's life. From his (by his own accounts) un-impressive beginnings to his eventual rise to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then to Secretary of State. You may be thinking, "This book is his life story, so why is it on a list of leadership books?"

The reoccurring theme of this book is to always take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Secretary Powell's personal goal was to command V Corps, but as he worked toward that goal, he kept getting sidetracked by special assignments that took him further and further from his dream command. It wasn't necessarily what he wanted to do, but all of those "diversions" were the building blocks for his future successes.

There are plenty in the fire service who will tell you not to volunteer for anything. Those are the people who don't want you to volunteer because it will only highlight the fact that they are not volunteering. Colin Powell's success as National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State, and Commander of V Corps in Germany were all a result of him saying "yes" to those difficult assignments.

Recommended for Officers