Words of Comfort

•December 10, 2021 • Leave a Comment

I recently read Matt Haig’s newest publication, The Comfort Book, and found it inspiring. Since many people find the holidays difficult, I thought I’d share just a few of the book’s highlights. I hope if you find yourself feeling a lack of peace, the following will bring some new perspectives.

You were born worthy of love and you remain worthy of love. Be kind to yourself.

It’s okay to be the teacup with a chip in it. That’s the one with a story.

It’s okay to let people find you. You don’t have to spread yourself so thin you become invisible. You don’t always have to be the one reaching out; you can allow yourself to be reached. As Anne Lamott puts it: “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”

It’s helpful to remember that our perspective is our world. And our external circumstances don’t need to change in order for our perspective to change.

External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value in the moment they enter our minds. It is ultimately up to us how we greet these things.

To feel hope you don’t need to be in a great situation. You just need to understand that things will change. Hope is available to all.

In order to get over a problem it helps to look at it. You can’t climb a mountain that you pretend isn’t there.

There is something bigger than depression, and that thing is time. Time disproves the lies depression tells.

We are always bigger than the pain we feel. Always.

Don’t envy things you wouldn’t actually want.

Don’t absorb criticism from people you wouldn’t go to for advice.

Continually looking for the meaning of life is like looking for the meaning of toast. Sometimes its better just to eat the toast.

Hope isn’t the same thing as happiness. You don’t need to be happy to be hopeful. You need to accept the unknowability of the future, and there are versions of that future that could be better than the present. Hope is the acceptance of possibility.

There is no point spending an entire life trying to win the love you didn’t feel when you needed it. You sometimes just have to let go of an old story and start your own. Give yourself some love. You can’t change the past. You can’t change other people. You can change you though. You narrate this story. So start a new chapter.

Perhaps 2022 is a new and even better chapter!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful, happy and peaceful 2022!


The Million Dollar Sales Tool

•December 4, 2019 • Leave a Comment

It is actually rather comical when we begin to think about the hype (could, should, need to, don’t want to) associated with selling, closing the sale, hot leads, cold leads, prospecting, etc. When all of us have the most basic and the valuable sales tool there is. I’m not saying it is natural although in some respects, it is. Yet it is definitely a skill that can be learned. In order to learn this skill, it takes awareness, commitment, concentration and persistence. So what is it? Listening. The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them. As Dr. E. H. Mayo says: “One friend, one person who is truly understanding, who takes the trouble to listen to us as we consider a problem, can change our whole outlook on the world.” Notice he said ‘on the world’ – pretty big stuff.

This leads me to the conclusion that there is a definite link between listening skills and improved interpersonal communication, professional growth, and career satisfaction. If you are skilled listener, people will respond to you in a more positive way. Even Peter Senge has said, “You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is.”

You may think you are being paid to sell – but you may actually be getting paid to listen. Two clues: 1) It is a direct result of listening that you know what your customers’ needs are and how you can best fill those needs. 2) It is a direct result of your listening to and understanding those needs that allows you to close the sale.

Of our waking hours we spend 40% of our time listening, 35% talking and the other 25% writing and reading.* Would it shock you to learn that if you are making $60,000 per year, then at 40% of your waking time, you are getting paid $24,000 to listen. But in truth you are only listening effectively 25% of that 40 – so in effect you are getting paid $18,000 of that 24 to listen ineffectively!

Listening is not instinctive – it is a skill that can be developed and if you’re not developing it, you are creating unnecessary problems, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, confused instructions, loss of important information, embarrassment, frustration and losing SALES!

A single female friend shared with me that when she went to purchase a house, she told the agent 4 things up front: “I’m looking for large closets (lots of clothes and shoes), nice size bedrooms, lots of windows and I couldn’t care less about the kitchen, I don’t cook.” The first house the agent took her to, he began in the kitchen pointing out all the storage, counter top space, upscale appliances, moved on to the den, then the bathrooms, the size of the back yard and finally upstairs to the bedrooms, never even mentioning the closet space. Do you think she bought from him? The second agent she interviewed was only slightly better. The third agent took a different approach. She said, “The first place we’re going is upstairs, I’d like you to see the size of the master closet and bedroom.” Next came the guest room and the agent pointed out that my friend could use the closet space in this room for any overflow. Lastly the agent took her to the kitchen with the remark: “I know you aren’t interested in the kitchen, but it has a really large pantry and in a pinch would be great storage for your shoes!” Even while using humor, it was obvious this agent had listened to her customer’s needs and had addressed those needs. Is it any surprise she got the sale?

Whether you’re selling yourself, a product, or an idea – Listen, ask questions and confirm.

  • Sales people who listen get sales, they hear the need and they respond to the need
  • Spouses who listen get appreciation and understanding
  • Parents who listen grow adults who listen
  • Leaders who listen grow leaders ** (#69 – Living Courageously in a Changing World)

Listening is a skill. Ask a thousand employees who said they liked their supervisor why and they will tell you because he listens. I can talk to him.

“Remember, you can listen a person’s soul into existence,” says a sign over a campus crisis hotline. If this is the case, it is certain that listening can improve your life, your relationships, your sales, and your bottom line.

* Listening – The Forgotten Skill, Madelyn Burley-Allen. ** Living Courageously in a Changing World, Judy Irving, www.MovingOn.net.


Questioning Strategy

•July 24, 2017 • 2 Comments

What’s the strategy for your life’s work? The word ‘work’ can be replaced with any such as career, life, marriage, the current project, or perhaps retirement? Have you defined your strategy? Is it working? How do you know? Do you actually have a plan in place or do you live life in default mode?


Many people will say my strategy is to earn enough money to pay my bills, educate my kids and someday retire. What if money is a side effect of doing valued work? What if educating your kids is a side effect of being a loving parent? What if retirement is a side effect of self-discipline? What if a life well lived means having a dependable strategy? What if the foundation for all of these is finding meaning in life?


As an leadership coach, I watch smart, educated, and skilled people with the potential to be great leaders and yet they are so focused on ‘doing’, staying busy, checking things off their list that they don’t stop and look at the bigger picture. Exactly where are all these actions leading me? Is being busy or getting things done enough?


I think the bigger question is what is the desired outcome and what is the real value of that outcome? What difference will it make to me, my life, my company, my family, my team, etc? How do I get my team or my family on board with this desired outcome? Is it clear enough and important enough that I can engage them in my vision? Can they get excited about it too? What choices and actions will lead to that outcome? What do we need – people, skills, training, resources? How much time will it take? How much time do we have?


If you are not taking the time to think through these questions – I call this executive think time and you should take this time daily – then you will continue to be Dolly or Darin Doer. Staying busy doing everything on your checklist, going to bed each night with a sense of accomplishment but rarely a sense of fulfillment. I suggest you begin by observing what gives you a sense of fulfillment. What does it feel like, where did it come from and how can you find more of it? Yes, coaches ask a lot of questions – try asking yourself a few.

Employee Development

•March 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

One of the most difficult transitions within a company is moving from being an individual contributor to being a manager. What makes it so difficult? First of all, the temptation to continue being an individual contributor is very strong; it’s what you’ve always done, it’s what you know how to do; you do it correctly and you do it quickly. The problem with this is that now you have new responsibilities and if you continue to do what you’ve always done, two things happen: 1) you have no time for your new duties and 2) those under you don’t grow.


So what are the areas you, as a manager, need to be aware of in order to develop and grow your direct reports and thereby actually become a manager of people? People, I might add, who are getting the work done, not just you getting it done.


  • What are they good at? Observe their strengths and weaknesses. Listen to their voice tone and notice their body language as they perform their tasks. What are you seeing? Does the energy seem to go up when they are doing certain tasks and go down when working on others?
  • What are their career aspirations? Are they ambitious, self-starters, proactive? Or do they prefer to do the work they are doing currently? Either is okay but will lead you in different directions as you steer them into new skills or deepening their existing skills.
  • Learn to give good feedback and employee evaluation sessions. Make these not just about where they need to improve but also about areas where they are doing well. Use these sessions to pull forth areas in which they want to assume more responsibility.
  • Delegate more to stretch them. Most people want new areas of responsibility and when you give it to them, it builds their confidence. When they know you believe in them to get a new job done, this encourages their own self-belief. Your delegating frees up time for your new management skills and stretches them in new areas of growth.
  • Are they task oriented or people oriented? We need both of course, but those who love to work with people may be best at working with customers and those who favor tasks may be best at the detail, pen to paper type of work. Do they have communication skills? Every team needs good communication in order to be successful. Put a good mix of strengths and skills on a project or team.


Knowing and expanding the strengths, values, aspirations, work and learning styles of your team can benefit not only you, but also the company in getting the desired results. Leading by role-modeling via delegating, listening, giving good feedback and evaluation, being a resource for their new and deepening skills training teaches them how to do the same. In addition, when it comes time for you to move up from your first management position, you’ll have one or more of your direct reports ready to step up into your position. Give me a call or email if I can be assistance in your transition and the development of your team.                     702-240-1866     –           judy@movingon.net

Taking Charge of Your Own Drama

•November 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The world and life seem to be in chaos most of the time these days. Or perhaps it always has been and today’s media just makes us more aware of it. What is causing the chaos? Is it all out there? How does what’s going on inside you influence what you are seeing in the world? Does your internal ‘temperature’ determine the external ‘temperature’ you are seeing? Of course it does. Our thoughts create our emotions and then often we act out those emotions. We spread those emotions to others by speaking, writing and sharing in a variety of ways and venues.

The most recent example would be the election and the two years of campaigning that we witnessed before the election. Whether you were happy or dismayed over the result is all based on your beliefs, your values, and what you are telling yourself about the winner and what this means for you and the nation. When you think these thoughts, what happens to your peace of mind and your energy? Do you feel good or do you feel angry? When you read the mud slinging on social media, does it bring you a sense of calm or stir the chaos pot?

I’ve been a life-long worrier and I’ve learned that I have to take my temperature when I start going into a place of drama. I call it ‘awfulizing’. When I take something and blow it up bigger than life, make it awful, fill it with what ifs, could happens, etc. I am growing the drama pot (sometimes without realizing it). Truth is none of us know what the future will bring and whatever it is we can learn from it. Whether it’s a government election, a nasty boss, the jealous co-worker, a noisy neighbor, a sick child, a financial crisis or a barking dog – ask yourself a few questions: Is this worth my peace of mind? How can I separate my emotions from the facts of this situation? Is there a different way of looking at this person or situation? What could make this person act in this way? What in my own background or belief system makes me react this way? What is the worse thing that could happen here? If that happens how would I hope to deal with it?

Asking questions – what questions, not why questions (why questions will usually keep you going in circles) – will allow you to bring things back into alignment and you back into a place of peace. Then gage your temperature when on social media and if it distresses or angers you, turn it off! The bottom line is this: Do you choose drama or peace of mind? Some people choose drama because that is the only time they feel alive. Drama is the drug and it comes at a high cost, not only to you but also to those around you.

Moving From Overwhelm to Sustainability

•December 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

The most important thing you need to know to sustain individual success according to Marcus Buckingham is to filter all possibilities in order to zero in on those that will allow you to be your best. Sustained success is making the greatest possible impact over the longest period of time.

You must cut out of your working life those activities, or people, that pull you off your strengths’ path. Your manager can draft you on to the team and cast you into the right role on the team, however, it will always be your responsibility to make the small but significant course corrections that allow you to sustain your highest and best contributions to this team and to the better future it is charged with creating. If you are a solo-entrepreneur, you have a double job; drafting and course-correcting.

Only 20% of people feel like they are in a role where they get to do what they do best every day; 80% feel their strengths are not being utilized. It may be interesting to know this statistic, but what do we do with it? How does one sustain passion even when life is imperfect?

One of the things Buckingham suggests is that we discover what we don’t like doing and stop doing it. This is something I’ve been ‘preaching’ for years now. Do what you love and what you do best, and hire (beg or delegate) someone to do the rest.

Second, take your natural talent and enthusiasm and target your learning toward those areas where you possess some kind of comparative advantage over somebody else. Then stay good or get better. The more of a commodity you are, the less successful you will be. As Peter Drucker once said, “Something special must leave the room when you leave the room.” Natural talent can be described as those recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied. Talent describes potential, not performance.

No matter what your talent or intelligence, success results only when you employ the right tactics.We talk a lot about balance in life and work, but the real key is to be fully engaged and then know when to disengage. Ideally we want to disengage for a few minutes every 90 minutes or so.There is no way to eliminate stress unless we move to the top of an isolated mountain, and I’ve thought about it. The key is to have a disciplined process of stress and recovery. Stress is not the enemy; uninterrupted stress is the enemy. If we could only treat life as a series of sprints rather than a marathon!

Here are some other tips from Buckingham’s The Only Thing You Need to Know:

  • Proactively manage your boss by providing him with 3 things: loyalty, good advice and a subordinate who will never make herself look good at his expense.
  • Remember: It’s Always Showtime! The little things and interactions you have on a daily basis DO matter.
  • Make your individually the focus (your particular mastery)
  • Fix your flaws. First the ones that stop you from performing and second, the ones that stop you from advancing. This will challenge you and if you focus on your flaws/failures will weaken you. So look at them, take care of them and move on; don’t linger with them…..keep the focus on: Cultivating your strengths!

One good question to ask yourself is what portion of my day is spent working on things I really love? The answer should be 70-95% in order to sustain success. If less than 70%, identify and eradicate the things that are getting in the way. Assess where and how you spend you time, it’s critical to your success.

You’ll need to remember, eradicating your dislikes is not high on anyone’s agenda. Most companies are set up to deliver to the customer. Employee success and fulfillment is important only as it relates to and adds to customer delivery. Even identifying your own dislikes and their causes may not seem a priority and yet the better you do this, the easier they will be to eradicate.. Remember if you can’t measure something, you can’t manage it.

A dislike is caused most often by one of four distinct emotions:

  1. You’re bored (may be okay with the activities, but not the content)
  2. Unfulfilled (your values are not engaged)
  3. Frustrated (your strengths are not in use)
  4. Drained (do it, delegate it, dump it, take on a partner, disengage)

Bottom line: The longer you put up with aspects of your work you don’t like, the less successful you will be.

Thanksgiving Conversation Starters

•November 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I’m wishing each of you a wonderful day on Thursday filled with love, family, good friends, good smells, yummy food and lots of good conversation.

If you’d like to take the typical dinner conversation away from football and work, below are a few suggestions for topics. Perhaps you would print out and cut the questions apart and place under each plate or fold them, place in a basket, and pass the basket (just like the rolls)!

Whatever you choose, here’s to happy times and good memories!

  • If you could be present at any event in history, what would it be?
  • Who is your favorite fictional HERO?
  • If you could have one super power, what would it be?
  • If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?
  • If you could take a dream vacation (without considering time or money) where would it be?
  • If you were going to be stuck in a TV sitcom for one month, which one would it be?
  • Is there a new family tradition you want to start?
  • When you were a kid, what did you want to be?
  • Do you have a favorite song or kind of music?
  • If you wrote a book, what would you write?
  • When you meet someone new, what do you notice about them?
  • Do you have a favorite song or movie or book or city?
  • Do you have a Hobby?  If time and money didn’t matter, would it be different?
  • If you were sentenced to Death Row, what would your last meal be?
  • What’s the most bazaar thing you’ve ever encountered?
  • What’s the best book you’ve ever read and why?
  • What’s one thing you’ve thought about, but are afraid to try?
  • What is your favorite holiday food?
  • All I want for Christmas is __________________________

Is This Battle Worth Fighting?

•July 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

It was Peter Drucker who said, “Our mission in life should be to make a positive difference, not to prove how smart or right we are.”

How often does the temptation to prove you’re right and they’re wrong, or you have power and they have none, win out? How often when we have the opportunity to show our authority or our brainpower do we stop long enough to consider: This might not be the best option if my intention is to have a positive result on those around me. Where is the ‘pause button’ when your buttons get pushed?

In Marshall Goldsmith’s latest book, Triggers, he describes the first principle you’ll want to follow, if you want to have a positive affect in this world. Just as the physician’s first principle is First, Do no harm, and the sailor’s first principle is Know where the wind is coming from. It’s phrased in the form of a question; one you should be asking yourself whenever you must choose to either engage or ‘let it go.”

The short version is AIWATT and stands for:

Am I willing,

at this time,

to make the investment required

to make a positive difference on this topic?

He tells the story of a farmer who is rushing to get his produce to market, traveling down the river in a boat when another boat comes rushing at him. He yells at the other boat, “Change direction! You idiot, you’re going to hit me!” over and over to no avail. Then as he glares at the other boat, he realizes there is no one in it. It has pulled away from its moorings and is floating downstream with the current.

He behaved one way when he thought there was another person at the helm, but now just feels foolish when he realizes it’s just an accident and there is no one to blame. The truth is we behave more calmly with ‘an empty boat’. When there is no scapegoat, we can’t get upset. Like when a car cuts you off in traffic, you take up battle at least internally with the driver of that car. If it were a runaway car, you might be frightened but would you yell at the car?

The moral is there is never anyone in the boat or the car. Your environment is in a constant state of chaos. The empty boat or car is not targeting you, just as the people in your everyday life pushing your buttons are not targeting you. You always have a choice as to whether or not you take it personally. Whether or not your respond in anger, or to show you’re right and try to put others down or in their place. Behavior is a choice, period.

So ask yourself in that ‘moment’ when your button gets triggered: Am I willing at this time, to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic? And if the answer is No, then let it go. You are making a positive difference by letting it go. It’s just like closing your office door when you don’t want to be disturbed. You are taking responsibility for setting yourself up for success rather than leaving the door open and then complaining that you can’t get anything done due to interruptions.

Our environment will temp us many times each day to take up battle and engage in pointless skirmishes. You can choose to respond by doing nothing. By controlling your environment, you give yourself a little breathing space to exercise awareness, ask yourself AIWATT, and make the choice to tackle the challenges that really matter in a way that makes a positive difference. This puts you back in the drivers seat.

Promotion to Management: To Do or Not to Do?

•June 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

When to promote and who to promote? In my work as a leadership coach, I see people succeeding as individual contributors; their strengths are being used in the best possible way. Then because they are dependable and effective they get promoted to a managing or supervising role and suddenly they are no longer responsible for doing the work, they are in charge of assuring that others do the work.

Many first-time managers are not even aware of this distinction and will continue doing the work and just expect their direct reports (many of whom used to be their peers) to keep doing the work. But who is overseeing the work and what are the new skills that are required in the new role?

People who enjoy being in the technical role (detail, precision, doing what they do best) may not want to be a manager. They may never stop to even ask the question: What will be different in the new role I’m being offered and are those differences something I think I would enjoy? Most people when offered a promotion and a pay raise will jump at the opportunity without asking important questions.

The same applies to the company’s talent management department, are they asking the right questions? Does this person like to work alone or in groups? Does this person have good people skills? Can they influence people in a positive way? Do they have good time-management skills? Can they mentor and teach those below them? Can they discipline if necessary? Can they assure their team delivers on time and within budget? Does this person realize they will be responsible for annual or semi-annual employee evaluations? How well will they handle relationships with those peers that will now become direct reports? What evidence do I have for any of these answers?

Asking these questions and having discussion are very necessary steps in the promotion process. Then if it is decided that promotion is the next step please set the new manager for success by getting him/her the support they need: training and coaching!

The Cultivation and Collapse of Trust

•May 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Trust is such a big word. It’s the belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, and effective. It’s also the confident expectation of something; our attitude about the future; and it’s a decision-making skill as to what or who you can or cannot put your faith in.

Many of us believe trust has to be built from the inside out; if you can’t trust yourself, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to trust anyone else. Perhaps you’ll spend a few minutes reflecting on the following: Do I trust myself? Can others trust me? What evidence do I have that this is true? What evidence do I have that it’s not?

How does one cultivate trust? Since people will usually not do business with you, if trust is absent; will not want to be your friend, colleague, or team member (if given a choice) and certainly will not commit to a close relationship such as spouse or partner; it seems to me that trust is vitally important to both your success and your happiness.

Let’s first discuss the framework that trust is built upon. I believe it to be these areas:

  • Transparency – your actions match your words. You do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. You don’t have hidden agendas. You don’t say words that will manipulate someone into doing what you want them to do, as opposed to saying what you think. You don’t tell one person one thing and another something else. You have integrity.
  • Competent – you don’t promise to do something without first having the skill to do it or a plan to acquire the skill. You clarify standards, expectations and timelines before wildly promising something just to make someone happy. You ask for support and/or resources to fulfill any promise you do make. You are realistic and honest.
  • Reliable – you are consistent. People know what to expect from you. Your attitude or mood is not like a roller coaster. We all have days better than others but reliability means we don’t hold our colleagues or family members hostage to our moods. It also means we can be counted on to do what we commit to. We take our commitments seriously and hold ourselves accountable to deliver.
  • Humble – show your vulnerability. You know you don’t know it all. You are open to others opinions; you take the time to listen and are open to changing your mind. You don’t hold yourself above others; you show your humanity. You don’t talk about others behind their backs. You admit your failures as soon as you realize the mistake and without pointing fingers.
  • Kind – you are kind. You treat people with respect. This won’t necessarily make you a great leader, but it will create an environment of safety. Only in a safe environment can relationships be built, collaboration occur, teams grow stronger, people be happier and productivity rise.

So what happens when trust is corroded? The collapse of trust has a high cost for both personal relationships and business. Sometimes this corrosion begins with such a small or seemingly insignificant incident. For example, once I showed up at my Naturopath’s office to pick up supplements on a Friday afternoon about 3 pm only to find out they close at noon on Friday. The next month I was careful to stop by before noon on Friday, only to discover they are now closed all day on Friday. Is it so much trouble to post a sign on the door a month in advance indicating a change in office hours or to send a mass email to clients?

A similar thing happened with another vendor; first he moved his office (no problem with that) and he posted office hours as 9-5 Monday through Friday (no problem here either)…the problem begins when I call the office and never get an answer. My call will eventually be returned but I find what they really mean is ‘Open 9-5 by Appointment’, but that is not what is posted on the door, nor what the answering machine says.

My trust begins to erode when I think that these businesses are not acting like businesses. Are they out of integrity? They are not being clear and specific enough about what they are offering me as a customer. Post a sign that says “Next month we will begin closing on Fridays” or “We are open by appointment only, Monday through Friday” – don’t keep your customers guessing or your customers will take their business elsewhere (I did).

I see assumptions and unrealized expectations occurring all the time in my work with corporate America. One department is waiting on a new hire and assumes HR is pursuing this new hire, then later finds out HR is busy hiring for another department. All the while, HR has been waiting for the first department to deliver the job description/requirements for this new hire and the CEO thinks HR has been diligently looking for several new hires and must not be able to find the right fit. The truth: nothing’s happening! This is the way trust erodes between departments and colleagues. People don’t clarify standards, expectations or timelines. People don’t deliver, miscommunication occurs, tempers flare, relationships suffer and productivity goes out the window.

Loss of trust also means:

  • People no longer feel safe to speak up – innovation & collaboration suffer
  • They are afraid to clarify, therefore you’re unsure as to what to expect
  • They won’t hold each other accountable so productivity declines
  • They work hard, but out of fear and not commitment (culture erodes)
  • Certain individuals may ‘band together’ leading to ineffective teams in which team members may be at cross purposes
  • The attitude about the future is uncertain = disengagement

Trust can be both easily built and easily destroyed. Once destroyed, it’s not as easy to regain. Just like keeping a customer is easier and less expensive than finding a new customer, trust is the same. Showing kindness, being fair, delivering on what you say you will deliver on and when you say you will deliver it, righting your wrongs, not throwing others under the bus, and clarifying vs. assuming will all go a long way in cultivating a culture of trust.

As Patrick Lencioni said in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, trust is the foundation. Make yours a strong one.

Judy Irving, Executive & Leadership Coach – www.movingon.net – judy@movingon.net