In his best-selling financial book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert T. Kiyosaki advises that in order to have a successful, rewarding life and ultimately to create wealth, we must first work to learn, not to earn. In my schizophrenically varied work life, I have followed my curiosity, whims and blind dumb luck through doors of opportunity and stumbled upon lessons I never forgot – some of which may be useful, some which may not. Here are 10 life lessons that I’ve taken away from 10 different occupations:
Customers who are rude enough to walk into a restaurant at 8:57pm when the sign on the door says “Open 11am to 9pm” won’t tip well either.
Gas station clerk
There are people in this world – I’ve even watched a local judge do it – who will put their last borrowed dollar into a video poker machine.
Communicable disease investigator
It takes just as much energy to look busy as it does to work. And the anxiety of being busted while on a fake phone call – no one on the other end but Debbie Dial Tone – will take years off your life.
Concert Catering Chef’s Assistant in Milan, Italy
Fame makes people act weird – both the famous and those around them. It looked, from my brief view, like a lonely, paranoid existence; a wobbling hierarchy perched atop brittle, glass steps.
Video Store Clerk
Time off is only good when your friends and family are off too.
If you wouldn’t sell what you’re selling to your own parents, you shouldn’t sell it to anybody. Just because you can close a deal, doesn’t always mean you should.
Cook/Hostess on a 100-year-old wooden sailboat docked in Mallorca, Spain
Any job is stressful if you don’t like it. A man who worked with me on this boat actually had to go to the mainland for a stress-related illness. In this job, I also learned that some people, el capitan in this case, like to sail naked. (But that’s a story for another post.)
There is no such thing as a stupid question. Go ahead and ask because, in manufacturing, though not always in life, it’s best to correct a mistake before it’s made.
Assistant Manager of an apartment community
Beware of people who tell you how honest they are, and if they mention the Lord within the first five minutes of any business transaction, hold on to your wallet. (My dad who owned his own business for 30 years said the worst thing about gettin’ screwed by somebody religious is they expect you to forgive em.)
When you begin to hope you wreck your car during the drive to work so you don’t have to go in, it’s time to change jobs.
Will these lessons in themselves make me wealthy? I doubt it. But if I assess the value of my life by the richness of the experiences it contains, then I would say, yeah, I am richer for having learned such things. And boy, what a ride.