Last week I went to interview for the Jackson Leadership Fellowship. The fellowship is in honor of a political heavyweight, whose 40-year career in public office, serving under 9 different presidents, made him one of the most influential political figures of our time. The man literally had his hand on every issue. He is the main driver behind the Jackson-Vanik agreement. He lobbied for resources to keep the military in business to prep us for victory over the Soviets for which Reagan took most of the credit. He helped Alaska and Hawaii become a state. He made environment and energy a priority.
I came to the interview prepared to take policy questions. Instead I was asked a number of simple questions regarding life, career and everything else in between. I was pushed into unknown territory.
People say the formula for success is timing and preparation. I think small talk should also be emphasized. During the interview, I briefly answer basic questions and redirected the conversation to the nature of Senator Jackson’s leadership. I spent an ungodly amount of time on policy research when, in reality, an ability to tell inspiring fluffy stories is all you need. I learned an extremely important lesson that day. Relatability.
The reason I went through this great length to explain everything in detail is because part of dealing with disappointment is to give yourself time analyze the situation. Figure out what went wrong and look for ways to improve. However, before that can happen you have to allow yourself time to grief. Be angry, be upset, be sad or whatever emotion you have inside. It could take a few weeks for some people to get over their emotions and only a few days or hour for other. The point is, let it all out so that you can begin to analyze the situation with a clear mind. Lastly, think positive, forgive yourself and move on. There is always something positive to be gained from a bad situation. I did not make the cut, but I did learn a lot about one of the finest legislators in U.S. history. The idea of starting a website to facilitate convenient and cost-effective ways to build and exchange knowledge came from the fact that I was not selected for the fellowship.
I encourage everyone to read Kaufman’s book on Senator Jackson. He is an outstanding leader. My hardcover copy is available for trade or purchase and can be found in my bookstore.