J.R. Abbott Construction

You asked for some feedback regarding how your work with Abbott, and me personally, has impacted us.

From the perspective of your work with the company, the investment in time and money has brought returns in many different ways, any of which on their own, are well worth the investment.

Your work has given us a better way to communicate with each other in that we have a common platform from which to work. When issues arise, it is much, much easier to get them on the table, and to talk through them than it ever has been. Problems or issues which would have lingered under layers of fear, poor communication, angst, you name it, are now brought to the forefront. Your work has given us a clear methodology and roadmap to work through very complex issues (like re-designing how the company works) in a way in which everyone felt comfortable working through the various stages of the process, not to mention arriving at a solution mutually agreeable to all. And I have seen how your work has given several people the confidence and freedom to speak when they otherwise would not have, to try new things, to be in development, and to follow their passion. In some cases, especially those where people have had the chance to work with you in several programs, the growth of those people, personally and professionally, continues to astound me. I could go on, but let me cut to the chase… Your work with us has been invaluable!

Your work with me personally has had an impact on me that I never expected would, or could occur. As you may recall, I did not dive in head first at the start. More like a reluctant, and tentative “toe dip”. But, am I ever glad I ended up jumping in. The Heart of Leadership classes has given me a base from which to live my life with much more clarity than ever before. I understand what I stand for, and what is important to me, and without doing the work with you, I likely would not have stopped to figure that out. That alone, is worth the cost of the program, in time and dollars invested, a hundred times over. I am much more comfortable in my role at work. Thus my abilities to be a leader, especially in these times, and my ability to enter into the really difficult conversations has improved dramatically. Before my work with you, I would do everything possible to avoid a really difficult conversation. Now I actually look forward to them, because I truly believe that something good, or an improvement will come out of those conversations. It does not always work out that way, but more often than not, it does. I believe that I am in the fairly early stages of development, and the impacts I am already feeling are really significant. I am excited, and a little scared, to continue to explore the pathways of the developmental work I have done with you.

There is rarely a day that goes by that I am not struck by something good that has come as a result of our, and my, work with you.

Thank you for everything,


John P. McGowan

“The first course I took was the Heart of Leadership and it provided essential tools that have allowed me to have a more fulfilling personal life and to become a better leader. The course enabled me to focus and understand who I truly am at my core and gave me the tools to live my life as I was meant to live; even in the craziness of daily life. I believe I have become a better leader by the pure nature of learning to be true to myself on a daily basis and the skill of deep listening that I acquired at the HOL.

At the second course I took, Art of Developing Others, I did learn there is an art to coaching and if you let other people follow their own journey that the results can be extraordinary. My leadership style has always been direct and solution oriented and through this course I came to realize how limiting that style can be. By listening at a deep level and asking more questions, instead of spouting out solutions, it allows a true collaboration with creative ideas and true commitment by all parties.

Also on a very personal level, The Art of Developing Others had a profound impact on me. I went on a deep journey of realizing emotional traps that I fall into today are a result of the role I felt I needed to play growing up. I learned this role is not bad or good and it served its purpose back then, but may not have any purpose today.”

Wendy Newman, Vice President

Number 1:

“In short, working with Amba has been about access. Access to a part of myself that desired to be seen. Just like a concrete stone waiting to be carved into a bust, or an ice sculpture waiting for the artists hand to carve out the hidden treasure. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t like Amba waves her magic wand and the curtain is drawn and the mystery is “revealed”. It takes work, a lot of work. The kind of work that is rewarding. I think the ultimate goal is to be in service to one’s self, and that is the distinction that I have gleamed. Amba polishes the telescope lens, and I look through to the miracles on the other side.”

Number 2:

“The depth of the human psyche and its capacity to be alive in our society, friends, family, relationships, sons, daughters, coworkers, they all benefit from the work that Amba guides us into. I feel like I have stepped into my own shoes, and the people around me see me, in some ways for the first time. Amba is a guide for each of us as we pilgrimage to the top of the mountain. Using the distinctions I learned as developmental tools, the pathways to building connections and relationships, it manifests a path on the way to the summit of that mountain.”

Number 3:

“Working with Amba has been enlightening. She has helped and facilitated the pathways for opening new avenues of communication with my family, wife, son. In a professional arena, I find myself leading and effecting the healing process with broken relationships in the office. Projects that have come to a halt, coworkers that have had difficulty working together, especially communicating. I especially find it easy to speak to people that are truly at stake for making changes in their lives. They gravitate to me, and I to them, like never before. I feel I have the distinctions to be a good listener for these people and offer myself to be in service to them and their community.”

Pete Ophoven, IT Director

Since the week following the first part of HOL, I have been working out of a major architecture firm’s office as part of a major design build competition. Normally, I would have shied away from taking on that kind of work, since it is out of my comfort zone. But since HOL, I have had this sense of calmness in public settings that I haven’t really had before in my life. I have been able to excel in this new setting, have tough conversations with tough personalities on the team, getting the best out of those conversations (for both parties) by just listening with empathy, and I feel like I’ve positively contributed to the general attitude of the team.

I have also had some great conversations with my wife where we have tried, with success, to “redraw” our trust and honesty boundary in how we converse with each other and it feels like we’re on the same page again, which is great. We can be honest with each other and know that the other person will supportive no matter what.

I am interested in some more tools that we can use in the work place for leadership. Construction has some really difficult personalities in it and it helps to have as many ways to deal with people in our leadership toolbox as possible.

My intentions have been able to be fulfilled on a regular basis since we last met. I have been able to recognize different situations and what I would have done in the past. I can apply my “stands” and values to those situations and come out in a better way than what I would’ve previously done before the class. I think the hardest part will be constantly monitoring my actions and how I’m feeling inside with what I know I should be doing, instead of what I used to be comfortable doing.

Paul Churchill
Project Manager
JRAbbott Construction

I am amazed at how I have really started to “hear” what people are trying to say to me. It was so easy for me to talk over others and “finish their thoughts”. I never realized how I would stifle their ability to communicate with me. By delaying my response for just a few seconds I am now able to glean a wealth of useful information from those around me that I could not gain before. Thus, I am slowly freeing myself from a strangling control over my co-workers and am now giving them a sense of empowerment over their decision making. I have also found how easy it is for me to make my own decisions. I am finding a new trust that is translating into positive performance and respect both in the work place and at home.

Now it would be unfair for me to say that I am cured of my old behaviors, but I can see the progress. I know that my personal transformation and the techniques for drawing out the best in those around me will keep developing over time. Just the knowledge of a new dynamic in interpersonal relationships that lies ahead, gives me hope that not only am I going to be a better leader, but that those around me can lead better with me.

I just hope it’s not too late to reach all the people that I have interacted with over these many years. It is hard to convince an individual or even a group of individuals that there is a change in the air, a new era in me. I know I will do my best not to lose heart and be patient with those who see me for what I was and not for who I am becoming. I know that my strength will be tested, but the knowledge that openness and understanding will fuel my resolve to pursue my new course and will help me to overcome my old behaviors and shortcomings.

Thank you both for the wonderful gift you have shared with me and the opportunity to experience one of the highlights in my personal development. I look forward to seeing the both of you soon.

Charlie Behan,
Supervisor, JRAbbott Construction

Dear Amba
I am writing to you to not only share with you my feelings and experience at the Heart of Accountability, but to share with you my heart felt appreciation of all the work we have done together. I am forever transformed.

Prior to our work I think I was a good person, husband , and father who had good leadership skills and cared for the people around me, but I have always questioned myself and my abilities and have never really felt comfortable in my own skin.
In the Heart of Leadership, I started to establish a new level of trust in who I am. There was a certain level of connectivity with myself that I had never experienced before experiencing the Heart of Leadership. In this course I was able to forgive myself for my past shortcomings and failures and start to look at myself and my future in a whole new light.

I was exposed to ideas of how to create a place from which to live life that is fulfilling, healthy, meaningful and inspiring. I had never been exposed to this type of conversation. I left my first Heart of Leadership course both scared and excited.
For a number of reasons, John asked me if I would go to the second HOL course. I gladly accepted. In this time I found that I had not fully given myself space to grow. I was still held back from my past. Amba found a way to take me back and address and help me unlock the experience of having grown up with dyslexia in my life and how it had held me back for so many years on how I see myself. I can now see that having dyslexia has truly been a gift, not everyone has the gift of seeing everything upside down and backwards. It is unique.

This also gave me the time to really dig in and understand what “listening for the listening’ really is and the automatic every-day listing, And where files can “stop’ the listening.

In the Heart of making a Difference, I realized that my job was not to tell people what to do. In this course I realized that if I was truly listening, I would be able to see what it is that people where truly passionate about and what their dreams are, that in this, I might be able to make a difference in their lives.

This is the true joy of my life, to mentor, to coach, to develop, to listen, and to be at service to others. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it, it is my privilege to do whatever I can.

In Leading Groups effectively I was able to watch and learn the art of listening. I was amazed out how Amba could be talking to one person and listening to someone else and weaving the conversation so that it spoke to each of us. It was amazing!!
At the Joy of Being I found my life. It is what inspired me to re-marry my wife on a sandy beach in Maui. We are now one with each other and I am forever grateful with a life and a future I almost lost.

The Heart of Accomplishment and the art of Accountability have brought structure and sanity back into my life. In my world, growing up as a carpenter it was very clear and simple. If you are late to work you are fired “Accountability” was clear. if Concrete was showing up on Friday you better be ready. Failure to be ready was not an option “Accomplishment”.

When I started as the Field Operations Manager I lost these controls. It was up to me to keep on track. In these courses, I found what it really meant to have a complete conversation for creating accountability and accomplishment.

I came to realize that the word “no” was a word of empowerment not negativity and that it opens doors for something else.
It became obvious that there is no short cut to truly creating a conversation for Accomplishment. In construction you need to first pour your foundation to build your building. The same goes for conversing for accomplishment, you need to do the work to build relatedness and alignment, and then possibility, than feasibility, than you can talk about Accomplishment. Without this work the building was destined to fall.

There are three people in my life that I feel I owe special debt of gratitude too.

To you Larry, thank you for opening the door to Amba, by doing this you have touched many lives.

To you John, Thank you for standing on the cliffs edge and having the strength and wisdom to follow your heart. You are indeed a great leader. Abbott construction would not be what we are today without you.

To you Amba, I do not have the words that can express who you are and what you mean to me. All I can say is thank you for being there to share with us what you have learned. You are in my heart and mind every day.

Ron Nelson

P.S. Ruth, you rock. Thank you for everything you do. Your loving heart is felt in every course. it would not be the same without you.
Leadership Development

I shy away from having group discussion about the camaraderie, shared passion, teamwork, basically the great event that took place over the past 18 months because it gets me so emotional. I think we were living it so deeply it attached my deepest emotions to the passion that was shared by all involved. I know I’m supposed to be a figure of strength, guidance, drive, and calmness but I truly get choked up each and every time we talk about the project team and how well we worked together towards a shared goal and how we had each other’s interests at heart. Thank you for aligning our companies and making this a truly fantastic event. see related comment

Jeff Weimar


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