Bert Lance, saying he couldn't have survived his turbulent months in Washington without the power of positive thinking, addressed a rally on mental motivation here Thursday.

The former director of the Office of Management and Budget shared the "Think Positive" program with "good news" caster Paul Harvey; a New Orleans evangelist who introduced Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt as his latest convert; another man who sells books on how he made $1 million in real estate; and veteran motiviationalist Earl Nightingale.

Back stage, Lance told Nightingale, "We used to play your records after dinner every night."

Lance spoke for 25 minutes to an audience of about 2,500, many of them salesmen, in the municipal auditorium that also is home to the National Dairy Cattle Congress. The rally was the first in what its Waterloo promoters hope become a traveling show around Iowa and other Cornbelt states.

Lance joined the rally bill when the promoters couldn't get former governor and Cabinet member George Romney. Lance refused to say how much he was paid for his appearance. "One of the good things about not being in government is that I don't have to answer that," he told reporters.Harvey said he'd been paid $7,500 for his appearance.

Lance told the attentive audience which had paid between $10 and $15 for the all-day session, that "the circumstances I have been through in recent months probably portrayed the power of positive, direct thinking as much as anything else.

"I don't think that if I were not a positive thinker I could have gone through what I've been through from the standpoint of just being in the limelight, in the news everyday."

The Georgian called on the crowd to become involved in politics so that "government doesn't become nonresponsive to your needs and my needs. And I think that's a real risk, a real danger in this nation. We can't let that happen," he said.

It's important that we be willing to do those things to be involved. And to me that's the most positive form of positive thinking that anybody can have."

In an apparent reference to the prolonged examination of his personal financial practices by Congress and the news media that eventually led to his resignation, Lance said, "We've got to be willing to undergo the kind of scrutiny, the kind of questioning . . . that goes with being involved . . . no matter what the risk is and no matter what the sacrifice is. That's extremely important."

Sprinkling his presentation with anecdotes that the crowd enjoyed, Lance asserted that if they and others would become involved in government, "There ain't nothing we can't do if we make up our minds." He said that inflation, unemployment and the energy crisis could be licked, and added:

"There's no need for us to be concerned about the future solvency of the Social Security system. We can deal with that question if we make up our mind that we're going to."

His reception was enthusiastic and many of his listeners said afterward they thought Lance shouldn't have quit his job with the Carter administration. "You have to bend the rules sometimes, to get things done," said a real estate agent from Waterloo. And a home produces salesman said, "Anybody who can borrow money without paying interest is a genius. The government needs a million of 'em."

Not everyone agreed. A woman said she was surprised that Lance was on the program with the other better known personalities on the "think positive" circuit. "I wasn't aware he was an inspirational speaker." And she added, "I can't believe banks are operated the way his was. We don't operate like that in Cedar Falls."

Yet another person who had sat through the long motivational pep talks, a hardware store man from Elgin, Iowa, said he didn't know who Bert Lance was. "Never heard of him. But," he added "if he's on the program he must be good." CAPTION: Picture, "Good News" caster Paul Harvey: $7,500 to the good after his appearance., AP