Every truly wise person knows that learning is a lifelong endeavor. It appears that we are, in fact, created to keep learning. It’s an obvious condition that is grossly overlooked by employers who do nothing to encourage their workers to learn.

The entrepreneur, on the other hand, can be in a constant state of learning. That’s what attracted me to my own business in the first place.

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

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

It would be impossible to identify all the things my business has taught me, things I might never have learned any other way. Here are a few I do recognize.

° Building from the ground up is fun. My mentor used to say 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 to life 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 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.Consequently, my library is filled with books on personal growth subjects by numerous elegant teachers.

° 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 to see how this really works, but it’s still helpful to make this basic assumption.

° 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 bringing them into being.

° 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 time spent with 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 exultation 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.

The headline for the marketing seminar caught my eye. The photograph with the story startled me. There was Curtis Beckman, news director at a prominent radio station.

He was doing a session on Working With the Media. Obviously, he was a man after my own heart.

“Jennifer,” I told my daughter, “this is the man I was mad for in college.”

“Did you go out with him?” she asked, looking at his still handsome face.

“Oh, no,” I said. And I thought to myself, “In those days I was too insecure to ever believe I could have what I really wanted.”

Changing those self-doubts into confident feelings was a slow process for me. I went to bed that night thinking about those changes and how different I had been in my college days.

Then an intriguing idea struck me.

“What,” I wondered, “would have happened if there had been a class in winning? What if instead of studying laboratory rats the psychology department had taught us about the healthiest people around and how to become emotionally healthier?”

The thought was so exciting that I couldn’t get to sleep. Instead, I designed the course outline for Winning 101. Here are some of the things we would cover.

° How to Have Strong Self-esteem. As Nathaniel Branden pointed out, “Productive achievement is a consequence and an expression of healthy self-esteem, not the other way around.” This class would put first things first.

° How to Build a Winning Self-image. Thinking highly of ourselves was not encouraged when I was growing up.

Psychologist David Burns, author of Feeling Good, advises, “Instead of saying, ‘I will love and respect myself when I’m a big success,’ try saying, ‘I will love and respect myself when I’m hurting and need the support. ‘”

Fortunately, we can acquire a positive self-image by changing our focus and self-talk. And, no, a healthy self-image is not the same thing as a narcissistic one.

° How to Set Goals. I didn’t learn about goal-setting until years after I graduated. No wonder I floundered for so long.

As I eventually learned, goal-setting is neither mysterious nor difficult. It is, however, necessary if you want to find your focus and spend your time building something that matters to you.

° How to Think Like a Winner. Here we’d explore the personal philosophies of outstanding people. One of the discoveries made by Abraham Maslow in his study of self-actualized people was that they had role models.

Since we can learn a lot by seeing winning behavior in action, Winning 101 would invite guest speakers—a rock star, an entrepreneur, an Olympic contender.

° How to Get Results. In this segment, we’d learn a powerful two-step process for producing results.

The formula consists of 1) focus on the ultimate outcome, 2) take action. There would be lots of homework, practice sessions and group reports. We’d also learn how to effectively solicit help and support.

° How to Get Along With Others. Not a popularity course, but some basic human relations training would round it out.

I even found a motto for the class. “The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.” Oliver Wendell Holmes said that.

Although I’m not going back to college and I doubt that this course has been added to the curriculum, I discovered that these valuable lessons are all taught to us as we build our businesses (if we’re paying attention).

Think of it: you can acquire these life-enriching skills while your business pays you to learn.

This September, why not go back to school as your own curriculum director? Learn as much as you can about being a winner in your own life. It could be the best class you ever took.