Education is one of my favorite topics. Knowledge is the key to success. It can unlock any door you choose. Simply by wanting to learn, and following through with the act of learning, you can become anything you dream. And education is so easily achieved! Literally anyone can receive intense, specialized knowledge if they so desire. Education is not synonymous with formal training. Education is simply the desire to learn. And there are so many ways to learn!

Thomas A. Edison had only three months of formal education during his entire lifetime. Henry Ford had less than a sixth grade education. Bill Gates never completed college. Yet every single one of these people became very successful in their lifetime. Why? Because they had a thirst for knowledge, and learned what was important to them in any way they can. They read. They studied under mentors. They educated themselves with happenings in the world around them. And they NEVER gave up on the formal education of life.

So how can you begin to get the education that will improve your life? Commit yourself to education. Begin in the simplest way possible: read! One of the best investments you can ever make for yourself is to go to your local library, and get a library card. Then begin checking out books regularly. If you haven’t been lately, you may be surprised. One of our local libraries now carries multiple copies of the bestsellers, and carries DVD’s, magazines, and CD and tapes for checkout.

Choose great books, books that will expand your horizons. How do you find good books? Check your bestseller lists. You can find them in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or even on Amazon. If a book makes these lists, there must be a reason. I monitor these lists every week, and make sure I’ve read the books on both the non-fiction and the business lists. Another way of finding great books is to check the bibliography section within books you enjoy. Here they will list the books that have influenced them. I find that if I like the way an author writes, I will enjoy the books she recommends as well. It’s amazing if you choose books in this manner, you will begin to see a pattern. People read and rely on the classics to influence them in their writing. This will lead you to finding and choosing classics that you will enjoy, and will help you towards success!

Checking out books from the library is a great start, but also keep in mind that a good reference library should be a part of everyone’s repertoire. Build up your library as you begin to read. Make it a goal to read one book a week for the rest of your life. Just by following through on this simple goal, you will read 52 books by the end of the year, 260 books in 5 years, and over 1300 books in 25 years! Imagine the improvement and change in thought process that can take effect with that much influence! Now imagine buying 52 books a year. At an average of $15 a book, that’s an investment of $780 into your education. That’s less than most college courses! And look what you’re gaining! What an investment into your future!

Books are a great investment, but don’t forget the importance of a mentor. Make it a goal to have at least one mentor in your life at all times. Someone that can teach you new ideas, new ways of looking at your life, and new ways of improving your ambitions and your goals. Mentors can be personal friends and acquaintances, or can be high-powered mentors from whom you learn through their books and seminars. Both have an important place in your life. Both should be used continuously to change the way you think and act. And ask for the guidance necessary to help you implement the changes. No one ever got to the top alone. It takes a lot of hard work – why do it alone! Take along people that have been there, people willing to guide you along the path. Someone whom is willing to mentor you, and teach you little tips and tricks will make the journey more satisfying, and easier to achieve.

What an education!

Lori Osterberg has been marketing online since 1995. Her popular online newsletter is read weekly by small business owners from around the world. To subscribe visit