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A Sales Leadership Lesson from Thomas Jefferson

In Jon Meacham's new book, "Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power," he relates a little-told story of the Founder that sales leaders can learn much from.

Jefferson needed to make Virginia's Rivanna River navigable so that he and his neighbors could more easily export crops. As you can imagine, this was a huge task in 1765. Altering the flow of a river wasn't something to be taken lightly.

Because he couldn't do it alone, he endeavored to raise private funds to create this critical route to larger markets to the east. His efforts paid off and he was recognized by the colonial assembly for what they called "laudable and useful" work.

The lesson for sales leaders?

Sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and work with others to accomplish the impossible...

...even when the powers-that-be are unwilling to give you what you need in order to accomplish what you must.

...even when your team seems unable to close-the-loop on a goal, budget, or plan.

...even when you don't think you have what it takes.

...even when excuses are more attractive than motivation.

Thomas Jefferson went on to do amazing things after redirecting nature in his first foray into public life.

As you're kicking-off 2013, spend just a moment thinking about the things that might stand in your way. Consider how to conquer "your" Rivanna.

Prepare to lead because that's exactly what you have to do in 2013.