“Rather than dwelling on the fact that he could not persuade those in power to his perspective, Jefferson… instead dedicated himself to becoming a student…”
Although the captain of a ship is at the helm, he or she may not have the best view of what’s ahead. In fact, the first person on board the ship to notice any of these may be a sailor in the crow’s nest, certainly not a leader by title in a ship’s hierarchy. Such was the position of Thomas Jefferson, a long 11 years before he would become the third president of the United States.
In a recent Forbes article from Don Yaeger, a New York Times eight-time bestselling author, we learn that when Jefferson served as George Washington’s Secretary of State, he could clearly see a significant threat posed by the Barbary States’ widespread practice of piracy. Although Jefferson could not persuade Washington to act against this threat, he did not dwell on this failure. Instead, he undertook a careful study of what would be necessary to successfully conquer the pirates. He created a plan of action and implemented it little by little over time as soon as he was in a designated leadership position. Jefferson was able to “strengthen his position through personal investment in learning” and justify his strategy to others who did not have the time or desire to comprehensively study the situation.
Jefferson clearly articulated his concerns and ideas, advocated for his plan of action, researched alternatives, and sought feedback from others. He understood the value of education and learning, and his focus on a long-term approach helped secure his legacy as an effective leader.