We are all inspired by great leaders. Great leaders shape our everyday lives.
Great leaders build the companies where we work. They also create the culture, the environment, of our workplace.
All of my life I have been inspired by great leaders. As a teenager, I dreamed of starting my own railroad, of spending my life working with railroads. Besides a deep love of trains and my love of drawing, I did not know where to begin.
No one in our family had worked for the railroad. My mom, herself a great leader, encouraged me to pursue drawing trains and to follow my heart.
Her first advice was that I send my drawings to the men who ran the railroads. Life had taught her that often good advice came directly from the top.
My career as a railroad artist began as a mom with her railroad artist son standing in line at the post office, sending a wish for guidance. We held boxes of matted prints in our hands, each containing a letter asking how to take the next step on this railroad journey.
It was through the words of great leaders that I saw that our journey had already begun. A quote from Robert Browning, "Reach beyond your grasp or what's a heaven for," in a letter from Bill Brodsky of Montana Rail Link helped shape my destiny. Sometimes we have the tools, we truly need direction from great coaches.
We look to great leaders because we are human. We have a need for advice, we have a need to be appreciated, to be shown the way. Our leaders themselves possess a superhuman quality that comforts and directs us. A quality that guides us. A quality that brings strength whatever the situation.
It is when the role of leadership changes, that we, for a moment, feel saddened. We have grown to cherish that hand that has guided us. That voice that has thanked us. Often, we have grown to know our leader almost as a parent.
We accept that new leaders will have wisdom of their own. They will have their own comforting voice. It is in this moment, however, that we take a pause for the voice, the guidance that is stepping away. Thank you for your leadership at Amtrak, Joseph Boardman.