Most of us who have heard the Eastern proverb that goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” think that it refers to an individual who comes to guide us.

I’d like to suggest that the proverb applies to business as well. Your business can and will teach you to uncover hidden talents, to think bigger, to discipline yourself.

Of course, you might be able to learn those things in other ways, but it might not be nearly as much fun as it is in the classroom you create for yourself.

It would be impossible to identify all the things my business has taught me. Here are a few I do recognize.

* Building from the ground up is fun. My mentor used to say that we all have an architect within us, a force that wants to design and build things that have never existed before.

The joy of seeing an idea come into being is one of life’s great blessings—one that entrepreneurs have over and over again as they create new things.

* I can’t outperform my self-image. My business is always a reflection of what I think of myself and who I am in the world.  Once I learned this, working on maintaining a positive self-image and challenging self-doubts became a top priority that led me to a new area of study.

(For most of us, this is an on-going process, by the way.)

* Goal-setting works. Learning how to set goals and stay focused on results is indispensable to building a business. It’s also the way to inspire ourselves to stretch and go farther.

It still astonishes me that I never learned about goal-setting as a student in school. Once I discovered what it means, I became a practicing goalsetter and continue to amaze myself with how powerful it is to write things down and start building.

* It all balances out. Taking a long view is the secret weapon of every successful entrepreneur. Life is about ebb and flow; so is business, of course. If cash flow is down this month, it may be unusually large next month.

It takes a few years of being in business before you can really see how this works, but it’s still helpful to make this a basic assumption.

(Knowing this is also a fine stress reducing tool.)

* We live in a world of opportunity. I certainly didn’t know this in the days when I worked for others. Now, I am constantly in awe of how huge the possibilities are for anyone willing to take responsibility for discovering and acting on those opportunities.

(Of course, opportunities usually come disguised as a problem in need of solving.)

* The more I invest in my business, the more it returns the investment. When I spend my time and money in ways that stretch me, my business gets better. Books, seminars and other entrepreneurs are not  simply indulgences; they’re power tools for success.

Taylor Caldwell said, “The true purpose of education is to enlarge the soul, to widen the mind, to stimulate wonder, to give a new vision and understanding of the world, to excite the intellect, to awaken dormant faculties for the exaltation of the possessor.”

The true purpose of business is exactly the same, but in this course you get paid to learn.

What a great way to spend a life.