Paying It Backward

Don’t you just love those stories of someone just doing something nice for someone else? It’s not for fame, not for glory but just because they can. Just because it’s the right thing to do. Their ask in return? Pay it forward. Small things like the 11-hour streak of people buying the car behind them coffee in a Starbucks in Florida. To more dramatic examples of the boss buying an employee a car after he learns that the employee is walking 20 miles to get to work.

These stories remind me of the goodness of humanity too. People can be awesome.

Now I’ve got you in a mental state of kindness, or at least I hope I have, let me share another idea. An idea that will cost you nothing. Not even the cost of a cup of coffee. All it will cost you is a little time.

I want you to pay it backward.

What is pay it backward? I hear you ask.

To pay it backward just takes a little skill. Listening. Oh, and maybe 60 seconds of your time. Let me explain…

You hear from a colleague or friend that someone gave them great advice/coaching/mentoring. Enough so that they’re telling you the story. I don’t know about you, but I hear them all the time, Little passing stories where people share how someone else did something to help them rock their awesome just a little bit more.

I had two examples recently.

The first, a friend texted me a message that read “Lisa Suennen really gave me some brilliant advice today. I’m so grateful to have her in my corner.” There’s a much longer and more complicated story here, but Lisa’s help had made a BIG difference.

The second, a young woman, Morgan, went out on a limb and shared a personal growth experience on LinkedIn. I was personally thrilled by the article. Eleanor Lacey, former GC of Survey Monkey greenlit sending Morgan and some of her colleagues to one of my programs that had initiated the growth experience.

In both cases what was a small step for Lisa and Eleanor has wonderful and lasting implications.

I saw an opportunity to pay it backward. I sent each a little note saying. “You did good.” A little note that explained how their actions had a real and lasting impact.

Both notes took me less than 60 seconds to write.

You can imagine what lovely notes I got back from Lisa and Eleanor. Needless to say, they were pretty happy to learn they had made a difference.

That, folks, is paying it backward.


Did someone do something for you recently that had a real and potentially lasting impact for you? And yes, I’m sure you’re all super polite lovely people who said thank you all the time. Have you gone that little bit further and updated them with the result of their impact?

Imagine someone sent you a note, a note telling you how you did something in the past that had real impact.


I know it would feel pretty fabulous, right? Maybe even make your day? I know it would make mine.

I have no doubt each and every one of you have an experience this week that fits this description. I have no doubt each and every one of you have many of these experiences in your past.

Pick one. Just one person who you can pay backward, one person you can thank and potentially make their day. Just send them a quick email or a text. Whatever is easiest.  It can be something they did for you or someone else, it doesn’t matter.

Share a story of how one person mattered, how they had impact in the world. Because that’s what we all want—to matter.

PS. If you have some particularly good stories I’d love to hear them especially if you pay it backward Just drop us a line at


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