Life and Leadership

You know how your brain works and sees things a certain way? I’m a quilter, and I frequently see quilt patterns in everyday things like floor tiles. As a student of leadership, I see leadership in everyday situations in nature.

In the past 24 hours I have seen two very different kinds of leadership, with very different results. Last night, while driving East on I-90 in Issaquah, WA, I saw a mother duck leading her 5 adorable ducklings straight across I-90, a major interstate, at rush hour no less. We missed them by a hair and I was horrified at what was about to happen. Every fiber of my being wanted to go back and protect them. I couldn’t bring myself to fully look back at what must have transpired with all that oncoming traffic. The mother was not the least deterred by all the traffic, and continued on her way, no doubt toward Lake Sammamish and some dinner.


This morning, sitting at home atop Cougar Mountain at an elevation of 1387 ft, I can look down onto the surrounding communities, with Puget Sound glistening in the morning light. I love to watch the hawks circle just below us, searching the ungroomed mountain for breakfast. I couldn’t help but notice the difference between the hawk and the duck. This being breeding season, I assume the hawk has young ones to feed as well. At a much higher elevation, the “view from the balcony”, the hawk could seek out its prey from the relative safety of the air, then swoop down to capture it and take it to their offspring – with a much different result.

So, as a leader, is it better to be on the ground in the midst of things, at the 30,000 foot view, or somewhere in between? What do you think?


About Andrea Cole

Four years ago, I followed my dreams and my heart by quitting my job, selling my home, and moving myself back to Seattle from Washington, DC. I didn't know how things would turn out, but I knew whatever life held in store for me, it was going to be in Seattle. And what a ride it has been! I now help others live their lives through rewarding career and meaningful retirement coaching. My website is
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