Here’s an excerpt from the interview.
As all coaches know, it’s a wonderful moment when someone tells you you’ve changed their life.
A few years ago, I wrote a column for Businessweek.com called Managing Up: Your Parents. I described meeting a woman, Trudy Triner, who had used the concept of “FeedForward” in a very personal way. After hearing me speak at a conference, she asked her colleagues at work what she could do to be a better team member and her employees what she could do to be a better manager. Then she asked her mother: “What can I do to be a better daughter?”
When I met Trudy a few months later at a conference in San Francisco, she told me that question changed her life in a wonderful way. I’ve told her story at hundreds of programs since then and was happy to learn more of her story, which I want to share with all of you.
MG: Trudy, tell us about your mom and what you learned when you asked her what you could do to be a better daughter.
Trudy: First, thank you for your part in what was a wonderful life-altering experience. You helped make the last years of her life very happy. Here’s what happened.
My mom was in her early 80s, lived alone in rural Arkansas, down a country road almost a mile from her nearest neighbor. She wasn’t in the best of health, but she was spunky, loved her life, and was determined to stay independent. The high point of her day was going to get her mail, which came to a big country mailbox by the road. She walked almost a quarter of a mile to get there. There were no sidewalks, so getting there took a lot of effort, and she wore an emergency alert necklace, just in case she should fall.
When I asked her what I could do to be a better daughter, she simply said, “Send me more mail. When I walk all the way out to the mailbox and there’s nothing there, I feel sad.”
I have to tell you, the thought of her looking into an empty mailbox day after day broke my heart. I hugged her and told her I’d do better.