In April 1803, Thomas Jefferson (via his ambassadors) inked a deal with Napoleon Bonaparte called the Louisiana Purchase in which the U. S. effectively paid France $15 million in exchange for 828,000 square miles of land… approximately doubling the size of the United States. President Jefferson announced the deal to the people of the United States in July 1803, and on October 21st of that year, Congress acted to set up governance. Ten days later, they gave the President the approval to explore the land and map it out since much of it was unknown to our country. President Jefferson then selected Meriwether Lewis to lead the exploration.
What Lewis did next is what makes him a great leader to me. He chose William Clark to explore with him. In that single act, he secured that Clark’s name would always be mentioned along with his when it came to the historic discovery of this massive portion of our nation.
I love this, and here’s why…
1. Lewis didn’t hog the glory. He didn’t feel like, since the President asked him to tackle this ginormous project with historic ramifications, he should get all the credit. To this day, we always mention Clark with Lewis. It’s never just the Lewis expedition… It’s the Lewis and Clark expedition. Their names have become synonymous with blazing trails and showing others the way… with boldness and daring… with the heart of the explorer. And their names are always mentioned… together.
Together is better. It’s always better. Together says a leader is not arrogant. Together says a leader values others more than themselves. Together matters, and it makes a difference.
2. Lewis knew he couldn’t & didn’t want to do it alone. He admitted he needed and wanted help. By inviting Clark along, Lewis made it clear that he did not have all the answers… all the skills… all the abilities. And he wanted to share the experience with someone else. I imagine that he imagined the two of them… if they could survive it… sitting in rockers on a porch one day on a piece of land in that Louisiana Purchase, telling stories to their grandchildren and people who stopped by to meet the famous explorers, of their shared experiences with two different points of view… one filling in the blanks in the other’s side of the story.
Great leaders get that they cannot do everything. Nor do they wish to go it alone. They want to share the thrill of challenges and cheers with someone else who can appreciate it… and help them be able to survive it all.
Listen, here’s the thing…
You are going to do something great in this life. Your moment is going to come when what you have been designed for… what you have been destined for… is set right in front of you. When it does, this is what I want to know…
Who is your Clark? Who will you elevate? Who will you bring along with you to make history? Will it be your spouse or your kids? Will it be a best friend? Will it be your favorite co-worker?
Just tell me you have someone in mind… because then I will know that you are the leader I believe you are… one who gets that life’s great achievements are better when they are shared.