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Retired Navy Rear Admiral writes book on being a leader, while enjoying life

Buffalo native Retired Rear Admiral Danelle Barrett has a new book coming out with a lot of great advice about being a great leader and actually enjoying your life.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Retired Rear Admiral Danelle Barrett grew up here in Buffalo. Her 30 year career in the Navy took her all over the world.

She is a wife and the mom of a professional ballerina. It's a lot of life. 

Now, she is back here in Buffalo and she has a new book coming out with a lot of great advice about being a great leader and actually enjoying your life.

When it came to her Naval career, Retired Rear Admiral Danelle Barrett wanted to be known as an officer — not a female officer. But she said that recognizing that distinction mattered to some people helped her navigate the largely male-centric environment and set a course for success. 

"In the beginning, it matters because people will be like, 'I never worked for a woman before,'" Barrett said. "I'm like, well, you had a mother right, you know, everybody knows how to do this, right? This is not rocket science here."

Spend just a few moments with Barrett and you'll quickly learn that rising through ranks of your own life may be easier than you realize.

Her new book called "Rock the Boat: Embrace Change, Encourage Innovation, and Be a Successful Leader" is full of bits of advice, stories and humor. She describes it as like having coffee with a mentor —  inspired by doing the opposite of what she had seen in so many preachy books about leadership.

"It has always been part of my personality, I kind of like, like to challenge the status quo, just because I find a lot of things that we do, we just end up doing because of routine or whatever," Barrett said. "And they just don't make sense anymore. Like the circumstances about why we did that to begin with are completely 100 percent different than with the reality we live today. "

Barrett says she gets asked most about work-life balance from both women and men. She recalls something as simple as telling her superiors she was taking an hour away from a very busy day at work to celebrate her daughter's birthday at school — a small professional risk at the time that she says meant the world to her daughter and didn't rock the boat too much at work.

"So find those things, you know, where you can make that balance and do it," Barrett said. "And you might take a little professional risk, but in most cases, if no one's going to care or remember in a couple years, why are you so worried about it? Just let it go."

One thing Barrett says none us should let go is kindness to others or ourselves. A heart attack two years ago was a serious reminder for her to make sure she was taking time for herself. But no matter what happens, Barrett says she always seeks to find three positives in every bad situation.

"We all have a limited shelf life, right? And so make sure that you spend the time on the things that matter most to you, that bring you joy, making time for the things that are fun, you know, and making sure that you're doing that," Barrett said. 

Her book is available for pre-order right now on Amazon. It officially comes out in June.