Jim Rohn

The 5 People

A friend of mine reached out today and asked me to fill out a Google form with my thoughts on her talents, traits, and what I thought she’d be good at. She’s figuring out her next career steps and it’s a cool method. Nearly two years ago she made the jump. You know – the jump most of us entertain at some point – the one where you sell all your stuff and take off indefinitely. That jump.

One of the last questions on the form was about her “brand” and who I thought she was; essentially what was her human elevator pitch. To me, she’s the person that jumped. Who does that?

I’ve only known of two others in my life and I suspect that puts me three up on most people. There’s her, my cousin that moved to a little island off the coast of Puerto Rico nearly 20 years ago, and the other was someone I’d never met but his Ted Talk stuck with me when I saw it in 2012.

His name was Scott Dinsmore and he started something called “Live your legend.” I think the idea was to find work that you loved or at least didn’t hate? I honestly don’t recall the details. This was 2012, I was in my early 30’s and I found something about his presentation mesmerizing. As far as Ted Talks and novel ideas go it wasn’t in the top 20 but I found myself coming back to it.

I followed Dinsmore on social media. I was curious as a car crash as to how someone – who by all accounts had a promising, normal career path – opted to leave it behind for this; whatever this was. He even had a wife. I had a wife and there I was grinding away 50-60 hour weeks for no one in particular. This dude said “deuces” (this was 2012) and went his own way. Could I do that?

Spoilers: no, I couldn’t. At least not all the way. I craved security and certainty far too much. I poked the ether with a few entrepreneurial prods but nothing progressed.

But I digress. Back to Dinsmore, my friend, and why we’re here. As I was telling my friend about Scott I had to look up the Ted Talk and I watched it again for the first time in at least seven years. In doing so I was reminded of one of the key points of his talk; the big “hack.” Remember life hacks? So fun to say. “Put mayo on the outside of a grilled cheese instead of butter – LIFE HACK!” That wasn’t his but it’s a good one nevertheless. 

It was around the midway point where Dinsmore brings up a quote from Jim Rohn

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

I’ll be honest, for years I thought it was a quote from the ESPN guy Jim Rome and I was surprised he’d say something so profound. I mean this was the guy who got knocked off his own stage.

I was reminded that I’d been fortunate enough to meet and get to hang out with people who became the defining influences on my life. People that younger me didn’t think I deserved to get to become. In the order I got to meet them:

  1. Marshall – My best friend in high school and again, today. This guy is True North and the moral compass I’ve always needed. He’s been an incredibly supportive and influential force in my life for more than 25 years. I literally wouldn’t be who I am without him. I don’t know if there’s a better “let’s have a beer” partner on earth.
  2. Brett – My best friend in college through today. Brett is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Knowing him pushed me to be better than I was letting myself get away with at the time, both personally and academically. When it comes to a partner for an intellectual argument there is no one better.
  3. My wife – IYKYK. She’s genuinely the nicest person you’ve ever met in your life; full stop. Her kindness has transformed me into a far more patient, forgiving, and respectful person than I ever would have recognized in the mirror. Every day she makes me believe I can be a better person by giving me a good reputation to live up to.
  4. Mike – We met at the Collier Companies back in 2004 and became fast friends. Mike was smart, professional, capable, warm, and sincere. He was a lot of things that I wasn’t and he made me vastly better in so many ways. I couldn’t do what I do at the level I do it if I hadn’t met Mike. He passed last July and I find myself missing him more and more with each passing week. Hug your friends more.
  5. My KC Manager Crew – For eight years I worked with the best people and formed the strongest of bonds. While working to become a trustworthy leader I became great friends with the people who would help cement who I would become at work; someone to be counted on in tough times and the person with the best jokes. Ask of any of them. They’ll tell you I’m an absolute riot. No one ever gave a full-body eye roll or walked out of a room at a dad-joke that landed with the grace of a shattered moon.

I know that last one is cheating, but so what, it’s my list. More importantly than these people are the dozens of others I’ve been influenced by over the years. And that jives with this guy who says Rohn is wrong; it’s not just the 5 people that make you who you are. Cool. I don’t think he’s wrong but we’ve got to start somewhere and people love lists.

I hope you’ve got great people around you; people that want to see you grow and succeed. It’s nearly a superpower having that in your corner.

Oh, right; Dinsmore. I nearly forgot. I said “was” earlier because he sadly passed away in 2015 while hiking Mt Kilimanjaro. He jumped. Not from the mountain which I understand is notoriously “flat” as mountains go, but rather jumped in the sense that he sold his stuff and decided to travel the world while continuing his work. Again, who does that? It’s inspiring.

Not the dying – though dying doing something you truly wanted to do is likely as good as it gets – but the deciding to exchange your safe stock life for one you’re sure you need.

And inspiration is about more than getting others to do what you did; it’s about reminding them of what’s possible and what kind of world we could have if we’re willing to choose it. I like living in a world where people pursue their passions.

Thanks to everyone I’ve had the benefit of knowing thus far. I hope I’ve been at least half as helpful in shaping you as you have me.