Although I seldom purchase lottery tickets, today I was thinking of the marketing slogan used by state lotteries from time to time. You’ve probably heard it, too: You can’t win if you don’t play.

That’s true about much more than just the lottery, of course. In fact, the odds are more in your favor in other pursuits that don’t involve games of chance.

This weekend I’m heading to Colorado Free University to do a series of three seminars. As I was putting my trip together, I got thinking about some of the people I’ve met over the years at CFU.

There’s Renae Hansen who came to Making a Living Without a Job shortly before she returned to Michigan where she currently lives. Renae recently passed her real estate exam and celebrated by selling her first house.

Real estate is not a new passion for her, however, since she’d been investing in property herself for several years. Her experience as a buyer is going to serve her well as a seller, I suspect.

On many trips to Denver, I have a chance to catch up with Pat Blocker, another former student. Pat is a longtime dog lover left her less-than-thrilling job and now operates Peaceful Paws Dog Training. She regularly e-mails me to report on the continuing growth of her business.

In addition, she share tips with dog owners through classes and advice columns. When I mentioned on Facebook my return visit to Denver, Pat chimed in with these kind words:” Don’t miss this! Barbara is awesome! She’s taught me so much over the years.”

Then there’s Maureen Thomson whom I first met when she attended my seminars several years ago. At the time, she was working as a technical writer and building a portfolio of rental properties.

Then a new opportunity came knocking at her door—literally. As she was working on a remodel on her latest acquisition, people kept showing up inquiring about wedding services. It seems the house Maureen was fixing up had once been a wedding chapel.

At first, that amused her, but after several such encounters, it occurred to her that there were many people in search of alternative wedding services. That led Maureen to open Lyssabeth’s Wedding Officiants, a business that has grown by leaps year after year and now has branches in California and Oregon.

Things got even more exciting when she discovered that she could run her business remotely thanks to the pool of wedding officiants she had gathered to perform ceremonies.

As it happens, Maureen also has more than a bit of wanderlust. Earlier this year, she and her husband Jeremy decided to start another business offering their services as a caretaker couple.

Not only are they joyfully jobless, Maureen and Jeremy are now also happily homeless. After several projects in the US, they currently are caretaking a property in Australia.

Maureen blogs about their adventures at Vaco Vitae.

These three enterprising women are, of course, a tiny sampling of the folks I’ve met during my visits to Colorado Free University. As I get ready to return, I am wondering who will show up this time and start writing the next true story about entrepreneurial adventure.

And I wonder about all the folks who don’t bother to take advantage of programs like these to acquire ideas and information that can open new doors.

In his book Creating Wealth, Robert G. Allen discusses what it takes to be one of life’s winners. His answer might surprise you.

He says, “The will to prepare to win is more important than the will to win. Preparing usually means doing those kinds of things that failures don’t like to do. It means studying and learning. It means reading books, going to seminars. It means not being afraid to corner experts and ask foolish questions.”

If you’re in the Denver area (or Sacramento or Las Vegas in October), I would love to have you join me and discover what thousands of joyfully jobless folks are already putting to work.

It may be more important now than ever before.

As Eric Hoffer reminds us, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

That could be more powerful than a winning lottery ticket, but you still gotta play to win.

 

Author Robert G. Allen wrote, “The will to prepare to win is more important than the will to win. Preparing usually means doing those kinds of things that failures don’t like to do.

“It means studying and learning. It means reading books, going to seminars. It means not being afraid to corner experts and ask foolish questions.”

As a person who has traveled across the country to attend a seminar and even further to conduct one, I can’t imagine why everyone hasn’t discovered the joy of participating in events that have the power to change our lives for the better.

People who can’t be bothered never learn this little secret: getting yourself to a seminar may, in fact, be more important than what happens in the seminar.

When you are willing to spend your time and money to expose yourself to new ideas, new techniques for doing things, and new people who can add their enthusiasm to your dreams, you’re also sending a strong message to your subconscious mind about your own worth.

Conversely, not investing this way also sends a strong message. As Sondra Ray says, “When you say, ‘I don’t have enough money to go to that self-improvement seminar or buy that book, it’s almost like saying, ‘I am not a good investment.’ The best way to make money is to invest in yourself.”

What would you like to be better at? Speaking German? Creative marketing? Managing your time? Boosting your emotional intelligence? 

You can accelerate your progress at anything by putting yourself in a roomful of people who are on a similar quest.

Best of all, an investment in yourself is the one thing that no one can ever take from you. No matter what is happening in the economy or where interest rates are headed, the investment you make in your personal growth—and continue to make— never stops paying dividends.

“In times of change,” said Eric Hoffer, “learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

With all the resources—the books, the seminars, the insights of  others—available, it makes no sense to skip the critical preparation stage. 

Because, in the the final analysis, winning isn’t about what you have or even what you do. Winning is about becoming the person you were meant to become no matter how long and difficult that journey may be.

If you truly want to join the winner’s circle, take advantage of every  resource you can find. You never know what might happen if you do.

You could be sitting in a roomful of strangers and suddenly meet yourself.

Knowing that information exists that can answer almost any question is an enormous confidence builder— but that fact is frequently overlooked. While the helpless loser goes around whining, “But I don’t know how to do that,” the successful among us are busy seeking information that will show them how.  Then they get busy putting what they’ve uncovered to work for them. 

This fascination with information is also necessary for entrepreneurial success. “In times of change,” wrote Eric Hoffer, “learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Whatever your business is about, one of the best ways to ensure success is to make a commitment to becoming an Informed Source. Here are some ways to do just that.

* Make learning a priority and schedule time for it.  While  just running a business can be a profound learning experience, we need other points of view, other bits of information in order to grow to our fullest potential. Make time for acquiring that knowledge by regular reading, attending seminars, meeting with other self-bossers who are farther down the road. 

* Learn from the best.  Jim Rohn is vocal in urging his audiences to seek learning from the best sources they can find. He says, “There are three ways one can go about learning from others: 1. Through published literature such as books and audio or video tapes. 2. By listening to the wisdom and folly of others. 3. Through observations of winners and losers. So become a good observer. “ 

The barriers that keep many people from learning from the best sources is that they either can’t discern good from not so good or they start comparing themselves to those who are more accomplished and miss the lessons they could learn. It’s far more effective to decide to find the best teachers you can and devour their experiences.

* Learn to edit.  Editing is the process of sifting through large amounts of material and taking out the bad, the so-so, the mediocre, the unimportant, and leaving in the best.  Learning to edit is also learning to discriminate, to prioritize, to evaluate. As an Informed Source, your audience depends on you to deliver only that information which is pertinent.  Incidentally, being a good editor doesn’t  just apply to information: it’s also a necessary skill for living your best life…or posting on Twitter.

* Be generous in sharing. Robert Allen earned his first fortune investing in real estate. He built a second empire sharing his successful system through seminars and books. Even if you have no interest in packaging information yourself, there are many ways to share what you know. For instance, one of the most popular guests on Minnesota Public Radio was Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens who frequently shared information on getting the most from your computer. That visibility (plus some fabulously creative marketing)  made him stand out from the crowd.

* Put it to work.  “Knowledge is power is only half a truth,” said Andrew Carnegie, “for knowledge is only potential power. It may become a power only when it is organized and expressed in terms of definite action.”  Yes, it’s fun to know things just for the sake of knowing them, but the truly brilliant users of information are always looking for ways to adapt what they’ve learned to their own situations. Doing your homework gives you confidence, but only if you use what you’ve learned.