I’ve had one job for every year I’ve been alive (that’s 54!). Some may conclude that I’m a bad employee (I was fired from a couple jobs). But I like to think that I’m adventurous, a risk-taker, and entrepreneur.

The longest I’ve ever held one job was five years; the shortest period was two hours (I went to the orientation and afterwards I was offered a better job with another employer).

My first job was at age eleven delivering the local weekly newspaper (the required age was 12 but I was able to talk my way into the job). I did have a few entrepreneurial endeavors before that. One was selling oranges when I was five years old. Actually I wanted to sell lemonade, but my mom didn’t want to, or didn’t have the ingredients, to make some. So I took the oranges in front of our house. My only potential customers were kids on their way home after school. I didn’t sell any.

How did selling lemonade become an entrepreneurial endeavor for little kids? And why and how do we lose that spirit as we grow older? One answer to the latter question is that the school system is designed to churn out employees, not entrepreneurs.

My next entrepreneur business was when I was eight years old. My six year old neighbor and I made a haunted in the shed in the back of our house. We advertised it by tacking up flyers on telephone poles around the neighborhood. This attracted some attention and our photographs appeared in the weekly newspaper that I would later work for. But we only attracted three customers, maybe because we held our haunted house during the summer instead of the usual Halloween season.

For about the next thirty years I followed the traditional route of employment: A job. After graduating from high school I had no interest in attending college, so my job prospects were pretty much limited to manual labor such as janitor, dishwasher, laborer, etc. Or service jobs such as sales clerk, bartender, waiter, etc.

I floated from job to job searching for meaning but finding emptiness. So I decided that I needed to go to college. Unlike high school, I like college and ended up getting a master degree in education. After graduation I began helping the less fortunate, thus finding some meaning in my work. Meaning, but not money.

Around this time the cousin of a college friend introduced me to the Amway business. Say what you will about Amway, but it introduced me to the entrepreneur spirit. I still follow many of the principals that I learned in that business: Reading business and self-improvement books, listening to inspirational speakers, and improving my interpersonal skills.

While the Amway business didn’t pan out for me, I realized that I had had so many jobs because I was an entrepreneur at heart. So I looked at a variety of ideas for businesses. One idea was to make tea with kava inside it (thus the domain name: kavajava.com). I had a few different business ventures at the local flea markets. But I found my niche in helping people improve their lives by helping them develop Emotional Intelligence skills.

What did I learn from the many jobs and businesses I pursued? One is that most jobs have no meaning for the employee; the employee is just a tool to make someone else rich. Another lesson I learned is that most managers are incompetent (see The Peter Principal). Most of all I learned that if I wanted something better for myself, I had to become a better person.

One of the most important Emotional Intelligence skills is Self-Actualization, the ability to realize your potential. In most jobs it’s hard to find your potential; you are a slave to the demands of your boss and seldom is there room for you to initiate your own ideas.

Your best bet at achieving Self-Actualization, if you are in a dead-end job, is to pursue your passions on your time off. In the meantime, on the job, be the best that you can be and don’t let others pull you down. Rise above the petty back-biting and negativity. Act as if you are an entrepreneur, as if you are your own boss. Remember the law of attraction: Be the person you want to become, then you will attract that life.
 
 
In my hippy days we used to listen to Janis Joplin sing “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ else to lose, And nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ if it ain’t free” (from Me and Bobby McGee). Freedom to me and my brethren freaks meant leaving behind the values of our parents and the consumerist society, the ability to grow our hair long and dress how we like, and construct lives built around values such as peace, love, and happiness.

But truth be told, being a hippy wasn’t free. Just like everyone else, hippies need to eat, clothe themselves (when not running around nude), and have shelter from the elements. Those things cost money. Dressing in paisley shirts, bell bottom jeans, and Birkenstocks cost money. Mind-altering drugs cost money. Living off the land cost money.

Even Mahatma Gandhi, who lived a simple life with few possessions, needed money to survive, albeit he had benefactors that made sure he was well cared for. Even hermitic monks in secluded monasteries who many grow their own food need to barter during droughts.

The point is that nothing is really free—there’s always a price to pay. If not paid with money, then it is paid through barter or hard work. We are interdependent upon one another and we want something in return our work.

In the United States we like to pride ourselves on our “freedom.” The Declaration of Independence gives us the “unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But there are many unjust laws on the books in America. There are many people who have been falsely accused and imprisoned. People may placate that the system has its flaws, but it’s the best system in the world. In the Mexican constitution people are given the right to flee from police and escape prison, recognizing the fact that any government can be tyrannical and unjust.

What does it truly mean to be “free?” For me freedom is a state of being; free from worry, anxiety, and want. It is a state where I have peace of mind and happiness. Using my “Balls of Energy” technique (click here to read the blog post and learn this technique) each day I concentrate on the energies of Peace and Happiness and attract them into my life.

I also concentrate on the energy of Prosperity. Prosperity can buy a certain amount of freedom. If you have enough money, you can quit your job and pursue passions. If you have money some problems are easier to fix—like when your car breaks down, so you have less worries. Money can buy a certain amount of peace of mind, although there are lots of rich people in the world who have yet to achieve freedom from worry and anxiety.

So, above all, it seems that freedom is a state of mind. A state of being that no one can take away from us no matter what they do to us. There are people who have had their freedom taken away from them and been imprisoned, but still they maintain the freedom state of mind. The human mind is very capable and strong. Each day I try to strengthen my mind and I encourage you to do the same.

Reading this blog is a step in the right direction of exercising and strengthening your mind muscle. So is listening to inspirational CDs. I mostly listen to non-fictional, self-help audio books in my car. Meditation is a great way to find peace of mind (i.e, freedom from worry, anxiety, and depression). All of us are works in progress who need constant positive input.

 
 
The next of my six values (Peace, Love, Happiness, Confidence, Passion, and Prosperity) is Passion. To be more exact, Passion for Life.

If you read my homepage you’ll see that my motto is, “Life, give me more!” I have a passion for life and all the challenges, obstacles, and problems it presents. Of course, life isn’t all bad, it also presents joy, happiness, and adventure. But often we are stopped in our tracks by the bad times and we give up hope.

Sometimes life presents us with daunting trials and challenges: The death of loved ones, relationship breakups, getting fired from your job, etc. Oftentimes it is just the ordinary daily drudgery that causes us to lose hope: An unfulfilling job, loneliness, boredom, etc.

There’s an old saying: “I’ve been down so long it looks like up.” Our desolate lives are stuck in a rut that seems to be the norm. “That’s life,” we console ourselves.

 It’s hard to pick up yourself when you keep getting knocked down. It’s harder still to pick yourself up when you don’t even know that you’re down.

We may have desperate hopes of our lives somehow, some way magically changing. Maybe we’ll win the lottery. Maybe the love of our dreams will adore us. Maybe our knight in shining armor will rescue us. Maybe we’ll be discovered and become rich and famous.

With tears in our eyes we may pray that things were different. We may wish that we were never born. We may wish that we were dead. But we wake up the next morning in the same rut, our lives seemingly forever frozen in the amber of a life that we don’t want to live.

How can we have passion for life? How can we ask life for more?

Part of the answer lays in the Emotional Intelligence skills of Self-Actualization, Happiness, and Optimism. Remember, Emotional Intelligence skills can be learned. We can learn to be happy and optimistic. We can learn how to live a fulfilling life.

Self-Actualization involves doing the things in life that you are enthusiastic about, that you find meaningful, and that excite you. In other words, things that you are passionate about.

Stuck in our dismal daily rut we may have lost sight of what our passions are. These days what we consider passion may be nothing more than the desire to finish work for the day, to have a day off where we can sleep in late, or to sit on the couch watching our favorite TV shows while eating junk food.

These are not passions but rather mere distractions; for a brief few hours our minds are occupied (or asleep). We may daydream, hope for the cessation of the pain of a lackluster existence, or dull our pain with drugs and alcohol. Yet we are not satisfied.

Find out what you are passionate about. Think back about things that you used to be passionate about. Maybe it was a sport you played as a youngster. Play in general was something we were all passionate about as kids. Remember when you couldn’t wait to get outside and play?

If money, time, and responsibilities were not factors, what would you be doing right now? If you could go anyplace, do anything, be anyone, what would you be doing? Don’t limit your thinking—think big and ridiculously. In these answers you can find your passions.

Maybe right now you would like to be traveling the world, but you don’t have the time or money. But in that big dream of traveling the world lays your passion. Maybe it’s that you like seeing new sights, meeting new people, or doing new things. You can do those things in your own backyard. I live on a small island in Hawaii. Some people get “rock fever;” they feel that there’s not enough to do. But I am always discovering new places and meeting new people.

To have more passion in your life, be more enthusiastic about everything. Be more animated in your speech and actions. Immerse yourself in the task at hand. Look forward to your next task instead of dreading it. For example, you may not have your ideal job, but you have chosen to do this work for the time being so you might as well enjoy it. Greet your boss and fellow employees with a hardy “Hello!” Do the best job that you can. Make a game of the task at hand.

Passion is an attitude. It involves being optimistic and happy. Be positive in your thoughts. Use positive phrases instead of negative ones. For example, when someone ask how you are say, “Great!” instead of “Ok,” or “Fine.”

Know that you can make a better life for yourself. It all starts how you view life—a dread or a challenge. Change your view and you’ll change your life!

 
 
I’ve written a lot about Emotional Intelligence in my blog posts. But exactly what is it?

Most people today have heard the term in relation to the book of the same name by Daniel Goleman. His book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ is well researched and a great review of the literature on the subject. Goleman defined emotional intelligence as including “self-awareness, managing your emotions effectively, motivation, empathy, reading other people’s feelings accurately, social skills like teamwork, persuasion, leadership, and managing relationships.”

The exact term “emotional intelligence” was first coined by Salovey and Mayer. Their definition: “Emotional intelligence involves the ability to perceive accurately, appraise, and express emotion; the ability to access and/or generate feelings when they facilitate thought; the ability to understand emotion and emotional knowledge; and the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”

I have found the most accurate and concise definition of Emotional Intelligence to be that of Dr. Reuven Bar-On: “An array of personal, emotional, and social competencies and skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures.” Through research and study Bar-On identified fifteen such competencies and skills: Emotional Self-Awareness, Self-Regard, Self-Actualization, Impulse Control, Independence, Assertiveness, Optimism, Happiness, Interpersonal Relationship, Empathy, Social Responsibility, Stress Tolerance, Flexibility, Problem Solving, and Reality Testing.

Bar-On coined the term “EQ” (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) to correspondingly differentiate it from “IQ” (Intelligence Quotient). Bar-On developed a way to measure one’s Emotional Intelligence called the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i). It is a self-assessment where respondents answer a variety of questions. The answers are then calculated to give the respondent a score in each one of the fifteen Emotional Intelligence competencies. This measure has been found to be scientifically reliable and valid—meaning that it really does measure what it’s supposed to.

The one common thing that all these researchers have found is that successful people have high EQs, even more so than they have high IQs; that is, Emotional Intelligence is a better predictor of success than intelligence is.

Bar-On’s work looked at “stars” in their fields, the top performers, the best and brightest. His research found that these stars have common traits. For example, the best managers score high in Interpersonal Relationship, Problem Solving, and Flexibility; the top earning sales people score high in Independence, Interpersonal Relationship, and Empathy.

Now the great thing about your EQ is that it can be increased, you can learn and improve your Emotional Intelligence skills. On the other hand, our IQ, our intelligence, is pretty much fixed. Sure we can do brain teasers and puzzles to exercise our brains, but our intelligence is limited by the brain structure we were born with.

But we can learn Emotional Intelligence skills such as how to solve problems, how to deal with stress, and how to initiate and develop relationships. And that is the purpose of this blog—to help you increase your EQ skills and become successful.

I am writing through by own unique experiences and insights. My hope is that something I write will spark something inside you; that it lead to an epiphany, an “aha” moment where you are enlightened with a new understanding and awareness. I want to help you as I have been helped, to become a better, successful person.
 
 
What is success? We are always striving for it, but how and when do we know that we have achieved it?

There are probably as many definitions of success as there are people in the world. Each of us has his or her personal vision of what success is. For some success means fame and fortune, for others it means having a loving family, for others it means happiness.

 Dictionary.com defines success as 1. the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors, 2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.

Maxwell Maltz, author of the seminal book Psycho-Cybernetics, used the word success as an acronym to define success:

S – Sense of direction, goals

U – Understanding of others

C – Courage to act

C – Charity

E – Esteem

S – Self-Confidence

S – Self-Acceptance

My favorite definition of success comes from Earl Nightingale’s recording The Strangest Secret: “Success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile goal.” The key part of this definition is the phrase “progressive realization.” This means that you are striving or progressing towards your goal; you are not standing still or moving backwards. You are taking positive steps in the right direction, even if they are miniscule baby steps. Sometimes we do digress, but on the whole we are moving forward. As the old saying goes, “one step back, two steps forward.”

Notice that Nightingale’s definition does not state the “attainment a worthwhile goal.” It is the striving, the work we put in towards our goals that makes us successful, not the attainment of that goal. Success is not a destination, rather it is a process. We are successful when we are trying.

Success does not mean that you don’t fail. Failure is part of life and part of the learning process. One of the fallacies of our education system is that students are punished for failing. Their tests and written assignments are returned with red pen marks pointing out their “mistakes.” Instead teachers should point out what the students have done right and show students what their strengths are.

One of my favorite quotes is: “The difference between a failure and a successful person is that the successful person has failed more times.” A person who is a failure gives up and quits trying. A successful person overcomes his or her mistakes and continues trying, continues to make mistakes, continues to succeed.

Don’t give up. Continue to try and you will be considered a success.
 
 
As a kid I was never taught necessary Emotional Intelligence skills. As a teacher I developed an Emotional Intelligence curriculum to help children gain the skills necessary to be successful adults.

Part of this curriculum involves helping kids recognize different emotions within themselves and in others. In preschools during morning circle time I showed children pictures (like the ones above) of a child expressing one of the nine basic emotions: happy, sad, scared, disgusted, surprised, angry, curious, mean, and embarrassed (I found that younger children don’t yet understand the last three emotions).

As I showed the children the pictures I would act out the emotions and have them do the same. Then I would go around the circle and ask each child what he or she was feeling. It’s important to be patient and give the children ample time to think things through.

If the child needed help I would point to the pictures and rename the emotions. Once the child responded, I would sometimes ask the child what made him or her feel that way (it’s important to ask “what” and not “why” since “what” indicates that you are looking for the external cause and “why” indicates that you are looking for internal justification). “What makes you feel happy?” I remember some children responding that they were happy because they were loved by their parents.

Once I asked a boy about 10 years old how he was feeling. He responded that he was feeling sad. When I asked him what was making him feel sad, he unloaded his experience of be part of shared custody between his divorced parents and the stress of his dad having a new girlfriend. I was taken aback at the heart-wrenching story and my mind raced for answers. But the simple act of just listening to the boy immediately brightened his mood.

The results of this simple exercise were amazing. It became easier and easier for children to name the emotions that they were feeling. The children also showed increase empathy by asking other children how they felt and by naming the emotions for the other children.

This simple lesson taught the children three important Emotional Intelligence skills: Emotional Self-Awareness, Empathy, and Interpersonal Relationships—skills necessary to lead successful lives as adults.
 
 
So far I have written about Peace, Love, and Happiness—three of my six core values. The other three values are Confidence, Passion, and Prosperity. Today I write about Confidence.

As I wrote before, I was a mess when I graduated from high school. I was ill-prepared for the world since I lacked the necessary social and Emotional Intelligence skills to lead a successful life. I didn’t have any goals or direction, I was shy, and I lacked Confidence.

In my sophomore year of high school we were required to give a speech in front of our English class. This was my first experience at public speaking. I was so nervous that I shook like a leaf in a hurricane. The only person who shook more than me was Willie who had a neurological disorder and shook all the time.

Now I’m an accomplished public speaker. What happened? Confidence happened. I faced my fear, got plenty of experience and practice, and I believed that I was confident even before I felt confident.

To quote Henry Ford: “Think you can, think you can’t—either way you’re right.”

In other words, whatever we think/believe/imagine then we become. If we think we are confident, act like we are confident, then we become confident. If we think that we are fearful and scared, then we are frightened.

In previous blog posts I wrote about imagining balls of energy in the palm of your hand. This ball of energy is a little sun that you control. My ball of energy for Confidence is bright white. While looking at this white ball of energy I feel Confidence inside me. I focus on that feeling; I feel poised, I stand taller, I erase fear from my mind.

Confidence is the result of several Emotional Intelligence skills: Self-Regard, Self-Actualization, Independence, Assertiveness, Stress Tolerance, and Reality Testing.

Self-Regard is the way you feel about yourself. People who have developed the skill of Self-Regard accept their strengths and weaknesses, respect themselves, and have Confidence.

People who are skilled at Self-Actualization have definite goals, are enthusiastic, take risks, and have a positive attitude.

The skill of Independence entails being firm in your thoughts and actions; you are not wish-washy, but you are committed to your beliefs and course of action. Independent people take responsibility for their actions and realize that making mistakes is a part of the human experience. Having emotional strength, staying emotionally strong when things get tough, is another sign of Independence.

Assertiveness in another component of Confidence. Don’t confuse Assertiveness with aggressiveness. Being assertive means that you are able to express your beliefs, thoughts, and feelings; being aggressive means that you are inconsiderate, mean, and forceful. Tell people what your opinions are, but don’t force your beliefs on them. Say “No” when you don’t want to do something, but be polite.

Having the skill of Assertiveness also means that you stand up for your rights and the rights of others. Don’t let people walk over you or take advantage of you. Stand up to the bully who picks on the weaker ones. Scold the bigot, homophobe, or chauvinist.

To be Confident we need to face our fears, deal with stress, and overcome anxiety. These abilities make up the Emotional Intelligence skill of Stress Tolerance. We all have stress in our lives; the more successfully that we deal with it, the more successful we’ll be in our lives.

The skill of Stress Tolerance involves having effective coping mechanisms; taking preventive measures such as exercise, eating healthy, and meditation; and having the feeling that you are in control. It also involves the Emotional Intelligence skills of Reality Testing, Emotional Self-Awareness, Optimism, and Problem-Solving (I’ll write more about Stress Tolerance in a separate blog post).

Lastly, Confidence involves the Emotional Intelligence skill of Reality Testing. Often times, such as in public speaking, our fears are unfounded. We let our imaginations get the best of us and we think that people will laugh at us, demean us, or humiliate us. But these things don’t happen. Subside your fears and look at things rationally. Get feedback from others; ask them if your fears have any basis in reality. Most of all get real experience and see what really happens.

In summary, to gain Confidence in your life you first need to feel confident. Use the technique of imaging a ball of energy that fills you with the feeling of Confidence (the energy that we project is the energy that is attracted and returned to us).

Believe in yourself and your abilities, stand tall, and know that you can handle anything that comes your way (see “Life, Give Me More!” on my homepage).