Name: Tracy Tully
Organisation: MRW Speaker, Consultant, TV Personality, Author & Publisher
Tracy Tully is a Leadership Solutions Specialist, Purveyor of Inspiration, Motivation Percolator, and Distiller of Fear of Change. Ranked in the Australian Courier Mail Newspaper's POWER List: Top 50 Most Influential People in Education, dominating conversations at state, national and international levels.
Tracy has held leadership roles in public, private and non-profit sectors for the last four decades and is renowned for her strategic and innovative problem-solving. She influences front-line leadership capability and productivity, training leaders to build their motivation and resilience by demonstrating how to overcome fear and procrastination through her 3-Step BUCKLE-UP FEAR Method - Assess, Adapt, Act.
"Life is like a box of chocolates, each sweet delicacy a goal, enticing you to keep moving forward. In every box, are chocolates you don't like. I will show you how to find the sweet spot in everything you do! Most of the battle is in achieving the right mindset."
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Tracy's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Leaders are 'jugglers' and dealing with difficult people is one of the most challenging roles of leadership. To 'shift them or lift them' is an attribute a vast majority struggle with. Communication, being able to drive results, self-confidence and being future-focused are the keys to successful leadership.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I fell into leadership as a school principal in my third year of teaching employment in an isolated and remote area of Australia because no one dared to take on the undesirable role. It was lonely; I was isolated for three months at a time, and living and working in poor conditions with little pay was gruelling. Because of my experience living in isolated communities growing up, I learned to become resilient and extremely adaptable, so I agreed to take the job. I continued in a variety of diverse leadership roles from there.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I wake early at 4:00 am and practice my 5 MICRO HABITS you can find in my book 'FEARless BUCKLE UP ... BUILD RESILIENCE' page 28. If I have time, I find writing a motivational activity during the quiet time while it's still dark in the morning. This task inspires me with a powerful positive attitude.
I start my day with a focused routine that ensures a positive mindset by leveraging my 5 Micro Habits alongside everyday morning activities. I always eat breakfast and lunch if I'm forced to skip my evening meal due to work commitments. I rarely drink coffee and prefer black tea.
I learned to tackle the prickly tasks first up in the day and prefer the 'people tasks', including meetings and site visits, towards the afternoon.
I love working from my my car, taking calls while I'm driving and 'finding solutions on the go' for my clients. I usually do Zoom meetings with clients, a few nights per week.
I like to read before I go to sleep and remove all tech gadgets from my bedroom.
I prefer to keep my weekends for my family and myself.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
A recent leadership lesson I've been reminded of is to complete the 'cactus tasks' first thing in the morning when I arrive at work. I've learned that avoiding them makes them grow unmanageable quickly.
The trick to managing my day-to-day routine is to find the balance between being goal-focused and people-focused.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I highly recommend "The Resilience Shield SAS RESILIENCE TECHNIQUES TO MASTER YOUR MINDSET AND OVERCOME ADVERSITY" 2022 by Dr. Dan Pronk, Ben Pronk DSC and Time Curtis.
This book revolutionised how I now think; it's the key that's unlocked all the secrets to understanding leadership in a critical role and has become my bible!
I recommend it to all my clients who work in challenging environments, especially 'first responders.'
My career has been filled with daily stressful situations, managing violence, drug-related behaviours and other traumatic exposures.
After reading this book and looking back over my forty-year career, I realised that I was functioning as a highly competent and experienced leader in a culture of trauma. In Dan Pronk's words, I experienced "stress innoculation," accumulating an abnormal stress trauma load through regular exposure to what I believed to be normal. Working with adrenaline and cortisol pumping through my body daily, I lived in a hyper-vigilant state. This caused a divide between the culture I lived and worked in and normal society. Educators all live on the "same psychological slippery slope," as explained by Pronk, losing "any form of a reference point to serve as a barometer of what a normal level of trauma looks like."
People outside of education, including the bureaucrats, have no understanding of the reality of working in schools. This results in less engagement and connection, resulting in educators recalibrating to their work life considered 'normal' and being exploited by education organisations.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Put your family first, then your job. Family is what assists and supports us to be better leaders. Set high standards for your self-value and make them non-negotiable, and this will always ensure you can protect yourself and have balance in your work day.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
The most meaningful story that comes to mind from my time as a leader was in 2010 when I decided to become a whistle-blower on corruption and fraud in the Queensland state government education department. I became the first Australian school principal who chose to stand tall as the voice representing educators across Australia and writing a tell-all book about my experiences. I've become a known activist and advocate in education and conceived the term #pokethebear, which is synonymous with my advice to educators when bureaucrats fail to recognise their negligence to the education workforce in Australia and the damage done to our youth.