By: Jude Santiago


Colin Powell is a retired Four-Star General and was the 65th United States Secretary of State. He was born in Harlem, New York on April 5, 1937. He attended Morris High School and graduated in 1954. He studied geology at City College of New York and was apart of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). ROTC is a program that commissions individuals into a branch of the US Armed Forces once they acquire a degree. In ROTC, Colin Powell excelled to the top of the unit. He graduated in 1958 and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. In 1962 Powell married Alma Vivian Johnson in 1962 and in the same year, he was one of 16,000 advisors who were sent to Vietnam by the President at the time, John Kennedy. In 1963, while he was on patrol, he was injured by a punji-stick booby trap (, 2011). He was awarded the Purple Heart as well as the Bronze Star a year later. He returned to Vietnam from 1968-1969 where he was involved in a helicopter crash. He managed to save his fellow soldiers and ended up being awarded the Soldier’s Medal. Colin Powell earned an MBA from George Washington University and he also won a fellowship for the White House during the Nixon administration. When promoted to Colonel, he served as battalion commander in Korea and also a Pentagon staff job. He studied at the Army War College and was promoted to Brigadier General shortly after. When Jimmy Carter was president, Colin Powell became an assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. Powell became the commander for the Fifth Corps in Frankfurt, Germany but was called back to Washington to become the Deputy National Security Advisor. A year later, he became the National Security Advisor. Colin Powell became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1991 under President George H.W. Bush. He developed the “Powell Doctrine”. This was a strategy that advocated the overwhelming used of force to maximize success and minimize casualties. In 1993, General Colin Powell retired from the Army. From 1997-2000 he was the chairman for an organization called America’s Promise which is a nonprofit organization trying to foster character and competence in young people. In 2000, President George W. Bush appointed Colin Powell as Secretary of State. Colin Powell appeared before the Security Council of the United Nations and pushed for military action against Iraq for on ongoing weapons development program. When American forces found no evidence of a weapons program in Iraq, Powell was harshly criticized. After President Bush’s re-election in 2004, he stepped down as Secretary of State. Colin Powell has remained on the down low since his resignation. Recently in 2008 he endorsed the Barack Obama campaign He is currently trying to inspire youths to achieve their full potential in programs such as America’s Promise Alliance (Academy of Achievement, 2011).

Neo-Analytic Perspective

The Neo- Analytic Approach is an approach where the “ego is broader, defining the core individuality of the person” (Friedman, 2011, pg 110). This new approach takes Freud’s idea of the ego further. Jung’s Analytic Psychology states that the mind, the psyche, is split into three parts, which are the conscious ego, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious (Friedman, 2011, pg 113). Colin Powell is quoted saying, “get mad, then get over it” (Colin Powell Quotes, 2011). This statement brings out Colin Powell’s personality that deals with what is going on in the real world. Colin Powell is a leader and by saying this statement, it shows how he would deal with a situation that flusters him by being flexible and having the ability to move on.

When delving into deeper components of the mind, we find the collective unconscious (Friedman, 2011, pg 113). This is where we find archetypes, which are emotional symbols that are common to all people. One archetype that best exemplifies Colin Powell is the hero. He truly is a real life hero. An example that best suits this is when he was on tour in Vietnam in 1968. He was involved in a helicopter crash, and regardless of his physical injuries, he saved the lives of his comrades from the burning helicopter (Academy of Achievement, 2011). In that situation, he could have just went on his own way to save himself, but instead, he went into the danger to selflessly help those who were in dire need of it. Another archetype that we see present is the shadow archetype. This is one that can be overlooked for someone who seems to be an all around good-natured person, but some of Colin Powell’s actions can vouch for him having it. Colin Powell appeared before the Security Council of the United Nations and pushed for evidence that Iraq was concealing a weapons development program. His testimony was very influential in the decision of using military action against Iraq. However, when they did get to Iraq, they did not find any weapons manufacturing plant. He was harshly criticized for that action and a little after the re-election of President Bush, he resigned as the Secretary of State. Colin Powell still went on and gave that testimony even though he had doubts about invading Iraq (Academy of Achievement, 2011). His resignation could have had to do with the guilt of supporting an invasion that turned out with no results of weapons manufacturing plants. Perhaps he had other intentions when he gave that testimony that did not go according to plan. This shows that there may have been guilt for his actions.

Carl Jung described two attitudes of personality (Friedman, 2011, pg 117). These two attitudes he described are extroversion and introversion. Jung said that these two attitudes are in every person, but one is usually dominant. For Colin Powell, his dominant attitude would be extroversion. Being a political figure, he directs his libido towards the external world to get his point across (Colin Powell on Meet the Press, 2008).

Alfred Adler came up with a theory called Individual Psychology (Friedman, 2011, pg 118). He focused more on social conditions of individuals and their perceived place in society. Adler believed that at the core of personality, people are striving for superiority. The inferiority complex is when the individual exaggerates feelings of hopelessness. This in turn makes the individual form a superiority complex to compensate for feeling inferior. I do not think Colin Powell had these complexes. During periods of great distress, Colin Powell persevered with flying colors. An example of this would be when he rescued his comrades from the burning helicopter (Academy of Achievement, 2011). He was also very well decorated and managed to excel in all the positions he held.

Adler’s Personality Typology consisted of the Greek Humors, yellow bile, phlegm, black bile, and blood (Freidman, 2011, pg 122). Adler converted these types to ruling-dominant, getting-leaning, avoiding, and socially useful respectfully. The fact that Colin Powell made it to the rank of General is sufficient enough to say that he was socially useful (Academy of Achievement, 2011). In order to acquire such a grand position you have to be able to care of those who work under you. Without them, there is no way of advancing like that.

Trait-Skill Perspective

Looking at personality from a trait approach means that you are using a limited set of adjectives to describe the individual (Friedman, 2011, pg 257). Carl Jung helped to launch trait approaches (Friedman, 2011, 259). Two things that he worked on were extroversion and introversion. An instrument that was used to measure introversion and extroversion in individuals is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Friedman, 2011, 259). The personality that Colin Powell measures to on the scale is ESTJ. This stands for Extrovert, Sensing, Thinking, and Judgment (Paladin Associates, 2011). The text mentions that a person who is an extrovert and is realistic, thinking, and judgment has the personality to become a good officer (Friedman, 2011, pg 259). This however, is just a general form of measuring personality and is not as extensive as the Big Five (Friedman, 2011, pg 260).

Gordon Allport came up with the conception of the trait (Friedman, 2011, pg 262). Traits are basically the consistent part of the personality. In the text, they write about how situations can effect how a person reacts. A trait that Colin Powell possesses is selflessness. This is shown throughout his career because first off, he decided to make the commitment to serve his country. Another situation that proves that he does have this trait is when he rescued people from the burning helicopter (, 2011). Even though he was injured and could have faced death, he kept pushing through and in the end, he saved everyone from that helicopter before anyone was fatally wounded. Another trait that he possesses is mental toughness. When he was in Vietnam for his first tour, he was caught by a booby trap (, 2011). He was injured and received the Purple Heart, but that did not stop him. He stayed in the service and kept serving even though he was previously injured.

Motives also play an important part in Colin Powell’s career. The way he acted depended on what needed to be done. As an officer, he worked with a lot of people and he had to be able to be flexible with his personality when dealing with different people. In the text, it outlines that motives require a goal (Friedman, 2011, pg 281). Colin Powell found his passion in the Army when he was in ROTC and he was motivated to keep going (Academy of Achievement, 2011). Everything he did was his best. The position of General is not something that is handed out everyday. It is a position that requires a lot of experience and finesse. Colin Powell had a high need for achievement. He did not stop at anything to get to the top.


After analyzing Colin Powell, you realize that he is a very hard worker. He accomplished a lot of awards and achieved the highest military and one of the highest civilian positions in the country. This is all due to his personality traits. If he had a different personality then he may not have even come to close to becoming what he has become. During his career he had his ups and downs but he overcame them because that is the type of person he is. Whether is was from rescuing people from a burning helicopter or debating on whether Iraq should be invaded, he displayed fairly constant behaviors thanks to his personality. His openness and his ability to lead are also to thank for climbing the ranks to the top.


Colin Powell Biography - Retrieved April 19, 2011, from

Colin Powell Biography -- Academy of Achievement. Academy of Achievement Main Menu. Retrieved April 19, 2011, from

Colin Powell Quotes - BrainyQuote. Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote. Retrieved April 19, 2011, from

Friedman, H. S. & Schustack, M. W. (2009). Personality: Classic theories and modern research (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson

Paladin Associates - Personality Comparison > Colin Powell ESTJ. Paladin Associates | Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® | Strong Interest Inventory® Career Test. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from

YouTube - More Colin Powell on Meet the Press 10/19/2008 . YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . Retrieved April 20, 2011, from