The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on July 7, 2011.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me personally – or to regular readers of my column or other writings – that two of the things I’m most passionate about are Toastmasters and Dream Coaching. And as naïve and idealistic as this may sound, I truly believe that the world would be a much better place if every person in it spent some time taking part in Toastmasters meetings and working with a Dream Coach.

This is because Toastmasters is not just about speaking skills. It’s about learning to listen carefully and attentively to others, to give helpful and positive feedback, to communicate clearly and powerfully, and to lead with confidence and compassion. Dream Coaching is about finding, recognizing, and acknowledging the purpose and passion that’s already inside of you, and using it as the foundation for creating dreams in any area of your life – dreams that you then pursue with clarity, enthusiasm, new skills and practices, and the absolute knowledge and conviction that you’re going to turn those dreams into reality.

I was thinking about all of this on Friday, as I woke up to the anticipated July 1 newspaper headline that our state government was shutting down because of the budget impasse. I couldn’t help but think about the similar issues, concerns, and possibilities going on at the federal level of our government. Or about other countries around the world that have gone through economic crises and government shutdowns in recent months and years.

And through it all, I kept thinking that if everyone involved in the discussions and decisions had Toastmasters and Dream Coaching experience, they’d be able to resolve their differences and overcome the obstacles that are keeping them from accomplishing what they set out to do. Not only to balance budgets and avoid government shutdowns, but to work more effectively, efficiently, and productively, and to provide an environment where all of us can live and work in freedom, peace, and prosperity.

Freedom, peace, and prosperity. Those words almost seem quaint right now, don’t they? Like a Norman Rockwell painting. But they may also seem ironic and sarcastic, considering the state of things today. Still, they’re words that were worth fighting for when our country was founded, and they’re words worth working toward today. And I think we’d have a much better chance of reaching them if everyone – and by that I mean the people in St. Paul and Washington, and also the ones sitting around our own kitchen tables – would add two other words to the mix: respect and responsibility. Respect for others and for their hopes, ideas and beliefs, and responsibility for our own words and actions and for the consequences they bring and the effects they have on others.

If you don’t think it’s possible to find a place where people live and act with respect and responsibility, where they listen attentively to each other, communicate clearly, lead confidently, and achieve their own goals while helping and supporting others who are working toward their own, just let me know. There’s a Toastmasters club I’d like to invite you to. And a Dream Coach I’d love for you to meet.

© Betty Liedtke, 2011