Many people have lost jobs, savings and their homes. Everyone is being affected in some way. It appears that we are in the midst of transformation: financial, ecological and cultural. What could we as Early Words Toastmasters (and people everywhere) do to make a difference in our communities?
A fundamental purpose of our club is the development of our speaking and leadership skills. We can each help in our own ways, here in Toastmasters and in the other groups to which we belong. We can stimulate discussion and dialogue. What is possible and what can we envision creating? Via the Internet and through our professions we have access to broader communities whom we can inspire. We can make a difference!

The Need Is Urgent

Businesses, jobs, investments and financial security seem to be at risk. Our relationships with neighbors, family, friends and our personal sense of well-being, at times, feel threatened. There are things we can do. Fear and uncertainty must be faced. Complacency must be put aside. We in this room are leaders.
Practical collaborative action can lead to innovative new possibilities. We can practice these methods explicitly in our groups and when facing dilemmas arising at work and at home.
First practice listening to the concerns, fears and ideas of others. Repeat aloud what has been said so they know and feel they have been heard and understood. Ask for solutions and next steps. How else might the situation be understood? Research how and what others have done. Get outside opinions. Consider with the group the strengths and weaknesses of each alternative and generate new possibilities. Seek to establish a common objective that could engage the group or a larger team solving the issue collectively.
Are you an active participating member of this group or assisting it from outside? To whom might you refer the group for additional resources? Support members in identifying, negotiating and agreeing upon next steps. Members committing to accomplish a narrowly-defined, realistic project together is a major step toward the solution.

Align Finance to Action

Next, the group can begin measurable goal setting. Align appropriate financial management with the next steps to reach milestones en route to the goals. Celebrate together as you progress, comparing weekly and longer term results to earlier plans and adapting as necessary. Practicing these methods in small groups strengthens everyone’s appreciation of what’s working.
Focusing upon the common good inspires cooperation and moves action forward. Sidestep identified differences for later resolution. Break big project ideas that might be controversial into smaller manageable tasks. Agree to have differences while keeping a sense of humor and being generous with respect, praise and acknowledgement. Can you operate from “abundance” rather than “victim” thinking? Trade favors and be loose with keeping score.

Work With “The Enemy” Because There Is No “Enemy”

Former competitors are current industry colleagues when facing common crisis. In this case, clearly identify asset and skill differences. Find work for each other. Collaborate, cooperate and build each other up. Practice complimenting the contributions of others. Accept praise graciously.

This Is a Call for Action

Listening, understanding and collaboration are essential to building communities. Our Early Words Toastmasters can make a bigger difference in Longview and Southwest Washington.
How could our club’s collaboration help others? Whom might we support? What is a “common good” to which we are committed?
How is our Thursday evening Toastmasters group faring? Are there high school or college students we might invite to attend? How about business owners, employees and retired friends from Castle Rock, Rainier and Cathlamet? Let’s invite them to our meetings or to the Thursday evening gatherings.
Our Toastmasters District has committed to do a membership outreach in Cathlamet at the Wahkiakum Business Fair on April 18th at Norse Hall on Puget Island. Our Longview clubs will benefit. We can encourage participants of the Business Fair to consider joining Early Words, possibly starting their own chapter.
Strengthening our Early Words Toastmasters and other surrounding clubs will build our personal speaking and leadership skills and assist other groups and our larger communities. Can you, will you commit to attend to answer questions and meet new friends? Will you commit to use your skills for the common good?