The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on September 16, 2010.

I got a phone call recently from someone asking if I would be interested in contributing a chapter to a book about networking. My first reaction was the temptation to ask, “What mailing list did you get my name from, and what are you trying to sell me?” But as she explained the project to me, I started getting more and more interested in it.

The publisher she represents is someone I’ve met and crossed paths with several times, and she’s someone I respect and admire. In fact, I bought a book of hers last year and it’s one that I refer to regularly and that has helped me in many ways. The publisher, Caterina Rando, has a multifaceted career, part of which includes organizing and publishing books with input from a number of authors on various aspects of a specific subject.

So my second reaction was a bit of panic, and the temptation to say, “I don’t belong in a book like this. I’m no expert, and I won’t have anything of substance to contribute.” I’ve come to recognize this kind of thinking as my “Default Setting.” Being a stay-at-home mom for most of the time my kids were growing up – and collecting life lessons and experiences rather than corporate credentials and experience – has often left me feeling inadequate and unqualified for business situations and opportunities that are part of my life today.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve had training, experience, and success in the work I’m doing now, or that I’ve won praise, recognition, and awards along the way. My initial reaction to many new invitations, challenges, or opportunities is still that I’m not good enough, experienced enough, or knowledgeable enough. So whenever this happens I have to make a point of reminding myself that my default setting is no longer accurate or valid, even though it’s still always there.

The title of the upcoming book about networking is Make Your Connections Count, and the woman on the phone told me that while researching writers for the project she was intrigued by my website and by how the idea of going on a treasure hunt could fit into the premise of the book. That’s when I got really excited about the project, because the name of my company – Find Your Buried Treasure – is also my philosophy and my mission in life. I want to help people find the gifts and skills they don’t even realize they have, and my personal belief – as well as my personal experience – is that when we help others find and use their own special gifts, it ends up benefiting us as well. In some pretty powerful ways.

But we shouldn’t go at this with the intention of getting things for ourselves or of fulfilling our own agenda. We should do it for the benefit of the other person and because it’s the right thing to do, in the same way that if we see someone drop his wallet, we should tell him about it instead of picking it up and keeping it for ourselves.

That’s the idea and the practice that I want to promote, in business and in life, and it’s what I’d like to write about in my chapter of the networking book. I have to submit an outline of the chapter this week, and the chapter itself is due in about a month. The book should be out next spring, and if I do end up in it, I’ll certainly be writing about it here. Partly because I hope that some of the people who read my column would also enjoy reading the book, and partly because when I share my own experiences – and especially the lessons I learn from them or the challenges I overcome because of them – I hope that it helps other people who might be having similar or related challenges and experiences in their own lives.

I’m not sure exactly what experiences or lessons will come from taking part in this new book. But I’m looking forward to finding out – especially if it represents a new chapter in my life.

© Betty Liedtke, 2010