Paging Sue Leeson: “You Can Do Better”

Sometimes the best thing you can do to help someone is a firm tap and playing a bit of a noodge.


The fact of the matter is that people seldom improve without some sort of feedback, and if you don’t help them with it, who do you think will?

I thought of noodge (or nudge) as I sent a note back to a coaching client asking them to rework their “lighthouse letter” – a product that asks exec coaching clients to put down in one page the conversation their grandkids/grandnieces – nephews would have if the now 100-year old client overhead them describing the client’s life.

Have a voice to the piece that’s in color, not black and white I suggested. Let’s hear a richness to the conversation, not something so monotone.

I still remember (fondly in retrospect) my undergraduate PoliSci teacher Sue Leeson turning something back to me with a note to rework what I’d submitted. “You can do better” she’d added.

Dr. Leeson, who later served as a judge on the Oregon Supreme Court, was right. I was skimming, getting by on the easy and shallow, and I was capable of much better. To this day I still thank her for that feedback.

And by that one simple step, she was also incredibly helpful.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.

 Photo: Feedback-loop-general. Photo credit: Wikipedia

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