“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” goes the quote so often attributed to Jim Rohn, motivational speaker and author.

I didn’t go to film school right out of high school. I actually disliked high school enough to have the drive to graduate early and be done with it. I was living on my own as soon as I could. Between drinking under age, smoking a lot of pot while dealing, and hanging around other people going nowhere in life, I spent many years treading water and making poor decisions. The people I considered my closest friends had no drive, and neither did I at the time. We talked about some dreams, but no one made any moves towards them. We would complain about our dead-end jobs, how the boss treated us, or how we deserved so much more pay than we got. It was a negative space to be in, but we all encouraged the others to continue to be the same. What could I have done had I surrounded myself with better friends along the way?

If you want to change your station in life, find people who are where you want to be.

Within television I knew I wanted to become a camera operator, but I was just a lowly production assistant that needed to work his way up. It took three years, but I did it—and in a market that didn’t have a lot of opportunity. In flooring, I knew that I wanted to run my own business from the day I started calling around trying to find a place to train me. I knew that I wanted it to lead to having crews and a store. Slowly but surely, that dream has taken shape. 

So where does this fit in with you? When I got into the flooring industry, I was almost easily swept back into buying into the standard dead-end job mindset. Complaining about the “low” pay I was getting for what I was bringing to the table. I easily could have become a “I have been doing it this way for 20 years guy.” Luckily, I wanted to learn more than what I was being offered. 

I have always liked knowing the hows and whys behind processes, but the people teaching me couldn’t tell me. My research led me to online groups where I found people preaching about the pride you can find in this work and the artistry behind it; how we need to know our value and what we bring to the table; why we need to pay attention to new industry offerings from materials to sundries; why we need to go and get training and see product demos put on by reps at supply houses; why spending money to go to a certification or trade show is important but you might lose out on income from not taking a project that week. Yep, that happened too. 

All of this is to say that my mindset changed. I found people who were leagues beyond where I was. I saw what they were doing and where they were going, and I wanted to be there too. At first, I was scared to ask questions or reach out to have a phone conversation. Why would they talk to a nobody like me? It turns out I did not once have a negative experience stepping out of my comfort zone and reaching out. The interactions were always positive and it changed who I talked with on a regular basis and where my mindset was at.

This isn’t to say I am not still pessimistic, but it has been reined in a great deal and I look for as much positive stuff as I can find these days. My glass may not be half full instead of half empty, but I am getting closer to that mindset all the time. 

networking in the flooring industry
I found people who were leagues beyond where I was. I saw what they were doing and where they were going, and I wanted to be there too. Photo: Kyle Hedin.

The people who are doing millions a year in business generally had someone help them get to that point. They had mentors. They had a hand up along the way. They relied on others to help make it happen. They are happy to do the same for others and help the industry continue moving in a positive direction.

If I reached out to someone I admired, who was where I wanted to be, and it was a negative experience at this point, I would just write it off and find someone else who could help me get to where I wanted to be. The positive mindset has to stick around even with a bad experience.

The people I have surrounded myself with these days have helped push me forward at a faster rate than I ever thought possible. Their mindset is addictive; their positivity is addictive; and their kindness is addictive.

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“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” said Albert Einstein. How long will you keep doing the same thing and expect a different result? If you want to change your station in life, find people who are where you want to be. I truly believe we determine our destination. You may have disadvantages and be behind the eight ball, but situations can be overcome and conquered. Education and relationships will make a big difference in what is possible. Who will you surround yourself with moving forward and what will you accomplish?