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.