We’re on birth alert around here right now. No, I am not expecting another grandchild. The arriving baby belongs to my doula daughter’s client.

I had never heard of birthing doulas until a few years ago when a student in one of my Sacramento seminars told me that she was one.

According to Wikipedia, this is an ancient profession that originated in Greece. A doula is a nonmedical person who assists before, during and after childbirth. The continuous support during labor is associated with improved maternal and fetal health.

How Jennie became a doula still intrigues me.

One morning about seven years ago, she fetched me from the Burbank Airport. She could hardly wait to tell me her news.

For some time, Jennie had wanted to have a second child, but was not getting much enthusiasm from her partner.

Then the revelation came.

“I woke up this morning,” she told me, “and thought maybe I don’t need to have another baby. Maybe what I really want is to have babies in my life. My next thought was that I could become a midwife.”

Although it was early in the day, she had already called her local college, found out the requirements for becoming a midwife and was planning to enroll.

She spend the next year taking math and science classes which had not been part of her previous undergraduate program. After doing her catch-up work, she was scheduled for two years of nursing training followed by midwifery school.

It was a big commitment. Along the way, Jennie did have a second child and decided that doula training was a better fit for her. She also added Reiki training and hypnobirthing to her toolbox.

Although I’ve never seen her in action, I can imagine that her calm and confident demeanor is a huge asset to her clients. I have heard  that she’s glowing when she returns home from a birth.

Ray Bradbury advised, “In the moment of knowing a love, intensify it.”  New ideas are as fragile as babies. They also require incessant nurturing if they are going to grow into something magnificent.

That’s precisely what Jennie did.

It also happens to be the way we get our marching orders for the Joyfully Jobless life.

After an especially hectic year that included two moves, one cross-country and one across town, plus the birth of her third child, my daughter Jennie has been gearing up Sweet Beginnings, her birthing doula business.

She’s been connecting with the local doula community and recently attended a day long seminar on marketing for doulas. She was invited to assist another doula who has three clients with the same due date. Jennie’s got her doula bag ready to go since babies have a way of choosing their own arrival time.

Last night she sent me an e-mail that said, “Do you have a couple of tip sheets that I could look at? I want to write one on making the perfect birth plan to give out to clients when I interview with them. I think it would be a nice touch.”

I agreed and promptly directed her to the Tip Sheet section of my Website.  I also promised to get a copy of my Tip Sheet On Tip Sheets to her.

Of course, it’s a pleasure to watch my daughter put her creative energy into building a business that thrills her, but she’s also reminded me of a basic success principle that I learned many years ago.

What’s the first lesson of  Success 101?

It’s simply this: If you want to be successful, you’ve got to do what successful people do.

Although it seems so obvious to me, I’m always surprised that everyone doesn’t know and use it.

That one little sentence launched my lifelong learning project. I became obsessed with hearing what the people I admired had to say, what they thought, how they made decisions, what actions they took.

I wanted to know what they read, what influenced them. I discovered that many of my early role models were enthusiastic seminar attendees, so I began showing up at seminars.

I asked questions, interrogated them whenever possible. I wrote letters, invited them to lunch, put myself in their presence and watched. I listened and I learned. I began to think of myself as an apprentice.

Then I experimented in the laboratory of my own life. I found my own voice.

Eventually, I created my own definition of success that included much more than financial achievement.  Personal qualities, such as caring for others, generosity, sense of humor and attitude got high marks from me. I discovered that teachers and role models were everywhere—but I had to take the initiative and seek them out.

Barbara Sher reminds us that, “Isolation is the dreamkiller.” So is hanging out with people who do not have dreams.

Author Jess Lair once commented, “When it comes to my own life, I want the best teachers I can find.” Whatever it is that matters most to you, deserves the support of the best teachers you can find, too.

Yes, it can take courage to put yourself in the presence of those who are farther along, who have achieved what you’ve only imagined. Take a deep breath and do it anyway.

Whatever you long to do next, start your apprenticeship now. Your teachers are waiting for you to show up.