Posted by: Tracy Boff | October 9, 2013

Look Once, Think Twice

How many times have you heard the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover?” We have heard it time and time again. Most people know how dangerous making quick judgments or assumptions can be. Good leaders live these words of advice in all aspects of their lives but can quickly get caught off guard.

Over the summer, I saw a beautiful photo of the ocean that was posted by a friend. When I asked her if I could use the photo for my leadership blog, she kindly agreed to allow me to use the photo but informed me the image was of Lake Erie. Humbly, I was reminded of the age-old lesson to not make assumptions. Of course, the Great Lakes, full of splendor and glory, are so large that all you can see are miles and miles of water. I was born and raised in Upstate NY and have seen the Great Lakes many times. Of all people, I should know that the Great Lakes, especially on a windy day, have the appearance of the ocean. I smiled immediately knowing my mistake while reflecting on how often I have made assumptions that may not have been as harmless as this one? As leaders, it takes a conscious effort to ensure we are leaving our assumptions, biases and judgments at the door. When we make assumptions, what are we missing? Like I did over the summer, dismissing the beauty of Lake Erie for what it is, am I missing value and talent within my organization?

What do you think? What do you do to ensure your leadership is not influenced by biases and assumptions? After my lesson over the summer, I make a conscious effort to look once, think twice…then look again. It may not be what you were looking for but there may be more there to see.

Photo of Point Breeze Lake Erie

Photo Credit to Patti Jacobs

Posted by: Tracy Boff | May 11, 2013

Withstanding the Test of Time

Inspired yesterday by a phenomenal leadership event, I have so many thoughts I could write about. I hope all of you have experienced an event when you felt the energy and knew you were in the place you need to be. We are so busy in our work and organizations that we do not take the time to stop, reflect and open ourselves to inspiration yet as leaders we are expected to inspire others. For me, yesterday was a day to recharge and open my mind to so many different thoughts, ideas and messages. At the same time I was reminded about of the steadfast principles of leadership.


Taking these principles and inspiration to the ocean; one place I find particularly inspirational and rejuvenating. The ocean and shoreline has experienced millions of people who have walked along the miles of beaches. Many generations have passed along the shores, people from all walks of life, backgrounds, ages, and eras. An ocean beach has stood the test of time surviving changing tides, hurricanes, storm surges and modernization of buildings. Yet it is still there as beautiful, serene and captivating as it was thousands of years ago.

The concept of the ocean standing the test of time reminds me of the fundamental principles of leadership. We have so many wonderful new ideas, concepts, methods and people to inspire us. I am truly grateful for the great leadership thinkers of our time however, when looking deeply at many of these concepts, some of the same fundamental principles can be found. People follow leaders who emulate what we inspire to be. Great leaders know their values demonstrated in their own behavior are the strongest tools to influence others. Without them, a leader will not withstand the test of time. Like the miles of ocean that have witnessed changes in generation after generation yet the inherent beauty and grace still remains, a true leader bestows values that will withstand the test of time.

What do you think? Are you a leader with values to withstand the test of time? Or will you be washed away as the next generation of leaders come ashore?

Photo credit to Sue K.

Posted by: Tracy Boff | April 17, 2013

Where the Forces of Waves Can Take You

Have you ever had a person or force in your life that pushed you to places you didn’t know you could go? Sometimes these people or forces are not something we accept quickly. Our natural tendency is to push back, get angry or fight the force. I am fortunate and blessed to have encountered such a force. In this case, a person, who pushed me to think and grow in ways I didn’t realize possible.

This person is a brilliant college instructor, who may underestimate the influence and life-long imprint she leaves on her students. This instructor demonstrates her love of leadership and organizational development to the extent that you feel the energy and excitement in her teaching while she challenges you to reach depths of self-reflection you may not have gone on your own. Although we are not able to see the immediate benefit of these forces, I am forever grateful to the one who pushed me to a life-long journey of reaching my highest potential.pb photo 1 Relating this encounter to the metaphor of the ocean, I think of experiencing the forceful feeling of waves. When swimming in the ocean, the excitement is experiencing the unpredictability of the waves. Each one comes in slightly different directions and carries you away. When a giant wave crests, even when you are standing, the rush of the water will knock you down and carry you in a different direction.

A good leader knows that in order to grow, we need to reach deep within ourselves and embrace our strengths but accept and be willing to address our weaknesses. We know we are easily blind to our weakest areas and it takes great humility to accept ourselves as vulnerable human beings. Sometimes we need a powerful or inspirational wave to knock us down and allow the wave to carry us to places we could not go on our own. When we stop fighting the force and allow the wave to carry us, the learning and rewards are powerful and life-changing. I hope to experience more waves in my life that will push me to places I did not think possible and I can only hope that my leadership serves as a powerful force in other’s lives that will push them to greater success.

What do you think? Was there a leader or force in your life that served as your wave to reach higher potential? What are you doing in your leadership to be a force of inspiration for others?

Dedicated to Medaille Instructor – P.S.

Photo credit to Penny B taken from the beautiful island of Maui.

Posted by: Tracy Boff | April 2, 2013

The Opportunity of a Low Tide

One of my favorite childhood memories is the first time my family visited the ocean. We stayed in a hotel on Cape Cod. I remember returning to the hotel in the evening and it was low tide. Where was the water? It was so far away. I distinctly remember feeling like there was something missing…until we took a walk on the beach.  We were able to walk in sand usually covered by water. In typical child-like fashion, I quickly adjusted and discovered an adventure and the wonder of this miracle. I found the best sea shells, freshly laid in the sand, untouched and perfect. I looked back to the shore and we were so far away from where we played during the day.

Using the metaphor of low tide in relation to leadership, many approach situations of low tide as if something were missing. I know I can get stuck into that habit myself. As leaders, we have an obligation to embrace the opportunity not always available.  In our organizations and work, low tide can be a time for rebirth and innovation. We are able to view structures and systems that are normally covered (or we are so immersed in) while we look for new discoveries. Low tide also provides an opportunity to reach places we do not usually go. This is a time to stretch our abilities, imaginations and learning. We never really know what we can find when we are willing to walk farther to reach the water. Once you are out there, it is important to look back to see how far you have gone and to measure success. This can spark further interest in innovation and reinforce a culture of opportunity. 

As leaders, our attitudes and actions will set the tone on how our organizations and followers will endure times of low tides.  You can find amazing things in the sand usually covered by water. During times of low tide, opportunities await our discovery however; we may have to go farther to get there.  How will you view the next low tide? Will you focus on what’s missing or look for the endless possibilities yet to be discovered?

Posted by: Tracy Boff | March 24, 2013

The Tides of Leadership

Hello leaders. I know there are many things you could be reading right now, so thank you clicking here to read about “The Tides of Leadership.” It may sound cliché but I use the metaphor of the tide because as an experienced leader, this is how I’ve come to view leadership. The fact that I love of the ocean, waves and the smooth sound of moving water also may have something to do with it.

When you think of yourself, have you stopped to think how you developed as a leader? How did you develop your leadership skills? Was it a mentor, training, reading books, or was it just plain experience? Has it been a combination of these?

My entire blog site is dedicated to the metaphor of an ocean tide. Picture the ocean, wave by wave rolling in. With each wave that crests, it leaves a different formation in the sand, leaving its own unique mark. Quickly, the next wave rolls in doing the same. Depending on where the tide is, the ocean may not reach parts of the beach and sand. To me, this is exactly how we are as leaders. All learning and experience creates new formation in our abilities and makes a unique mark. We relish our accomplishments but know how quickly the next wave is coming. Each wave brings new and exciting opportunities but at times we tire of having to wade our way through each wave. Yet we know when we embrace the force of each wave, it leaves us stronger, more experienced and wiser. For some, they have gone to seek higher ground or wait for low tide and the waves no longer reach them. Some would say they are the clever ones among us, they no longer have to wade through the sand and water.

What do you think? Are you are leader seeking higher ground or are you still willing to feel the rush of the cold salty water, allowing the each wave to leave a new mark on you?