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.

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