Long before I began my life as a gypsy teacher, I was a gypsy student. I attended seminars on personal growth, on marketing, on building a business as often as I could. Since the teachers I wanted to study with weren’t showing up in my small town, I spent a great deal of time and money traveling to learn.

What I learned (among many other priceless things) is that seminar rooms are my natural habitat. I love to learn and I really love being in places where new ideas and insights also show up.

I began meeting people with the same determination to grow and prosper. Horizons expanded. I acquired a passport and began going places I had only dreamed about.

Putting myself in a roomful of others who had similar dreams and aspirations was powerful. Not only did I began to gather useful tools that I could put to work building the life of my dreams, simply being surrounded by others convinced me that I wasn’t crazy for wanting to live an adventurous life.

I’m beginning to realize what an uncommon experience that is.

Most of us have grown up in a culture that seems to say that education is something we finish in our late teens or early twenties. We drift away from the places and learning experiences that were part of our youth.

Too many of us have been taught—in all sorts of subtle ways—that adulthood is about making our choices and repeating an agenda day after day, year after year.

Fortunately, more and more perfectly respectable adults are sneaking back into classrooms, trying new things, exploring new interests. Best of all, they’re discovering that regular participation in seminars and classes is an extraordinarily good investment of their time and money.

It also has an impact on success. A big impact.

According to the National Business Incubation Association, 80-90% of businesses are still operating after five years where the founder has received entrepreneurial training and continues with a network group, as compared to a 10% success rate for those who do not.

And our explorations don’t always have to be about new subjects. Repetition is the way we learn a new language and it also is the way we grow our entrepreneurial selves.

Every so often, I have a participant in my Making a Living Without a Job seminar who tells me they’re back for another go around. After attending a few years earlier, they’ve got their business up and running, but they’re ready to go farther.

Coming back to a seminar they took as a want-to-be-entrepreneur is not the same experience as it was the first time around. Different parts of the seminar are useful to them now that they barely noticed on an earlier visit.

It reminds me of Clifton Fadiman’s observation that when we reread a book and find more in it it’s not because there’s more in the book; it’s because there’s more in us.

Even after all these years, I find that anytime I wake up in the morning and realize it’s a seminar day my next thought is, “Somebody’s life is going to change today!”

That somebody may have a new vision that wasn’t there before. Or they might be getting a missing piece of their puzzle. Or it may just be the pleasure that comes from connecting with others who are open and eager to exploration.

As Caroline Myss reminds us, “We evolve at the rate of the tribe we’re plugged into.” Putting yourself in a room with the tribe you want to be part of can be the start of a wonderful new adventure.

Of course, you’ve got to show up if you’re going to plug in.

 

 

 

 

3 Responses to “The Power of Plugging In”

  1. Jamee Thompson

    Barbara,
    You’ve hit the nail on the head! I am a voice actor and have attended one conference (FaffCon: The VoiceOver UnConference) five times in three years. It is amazing and invigorating to be in a room full of my peers who are not only freely sharing insights and information, but are also truly wonderful people who care about my success. As you point out, each time I attend I learn new things and notice different people and information I missed last time.
    Thanks for the article!
    Jamee Thompson

  2. Dee Relyea

    Barbara,
    This is so true! I remember the first time I met you years ago in Madison when you were here with Valerie Young dong a weekend workshop. Little did I know that you were the reason I “showed up”.
    You have continued to motivate me (and of course my entrepreneurial advocate daughter in Denver) ever since!
    I am still in touch via Linked In and fb with folks who attended those seminars you gave here in Madison a few years ago. (And as you know I have visited fellow attendee of Follow Through Camp, Rebecca, in NC a couple of times.)
    It is great to see what interesting projects former seminar attendees are doing now and is heartwarming to know we all support and encourage one another.

    Thank you for being the spark that fired us all! You will never know how many people you’ve inspired over the years but I am certainly one of them!

    With gratitude,
    Dee

  3. Bob Wilson

    Barbara,
    Thanks for sharing this – it is so very true and often a much needed reminder. There was a time in my 20’s when I forgot about the need to learn and grow. Thankfully, I rediscovered this in my 30’s and have continued to learn and grown into my 40’s and 50’s.
    Bob

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