There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being totally dialed in, something that, much like a bit of shell that finds its way into your eggs, you can’t quite put your finger on.

But you know it well: that sense of well-being that comes from the system operating flawlessly, be it a perfect stalk on your annual deer lease, a masterfully negotiated contract on a new building or all the facets of a deal dovetailing one into the next. All the pieces of your personal puzzle fitting together in a harmony so seamless that you find yourself humming softly, your foot tapping to its own perfectly timed beat.

Those moments of being completely in sync, those “he makes it look so easy” instances, the trait they all share? Thousands and thousands of hours of gut-busting, soul-crushing missteps, failures and outright disasters.  An “effortless” moment? Tell that to all the effort it took to get there.

You’ve probably heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s essay “Outliers,” wherein he states that mastery of anything takes 10,000 hours of practice. The only requirements? Finding the money to create the time required, having the drive to commit to the work, and practice, practice, practice.

Anyone can get lucky once, even twice. But consistently operating at an elite level, becoming that against which all else is measured? It’s paying your dues, pure and simple. Stories of Jordan in the weight room or Bird at the foul line hours after everyone else had gone home are the stuff of legend. MJ sold millions of hamburgers for McDonalds over the years, sure, but I’m betting his off hours weren’t spent on a couch tossing back Big Macs.

Last month I traveled to Austin for Starnet’s 20th Annual Fall Membership Meeting.  Traditionally the spring meeting is mandatory, the fall optional. Still, roughly two thirds of the membership made the trip.  When I asked why such a high percentage, what I heard most was, “To see what I might do to improve.”

This from a group whose collective experience in the floor covering industry can pretty much be used as “The Bar.” Twenty-, 25-, 30-year veterans, all knowing full well that the only easy day was yesterday, that what has helped them get to where they are today is acknowledging that they don’t know everything, but they want to.

NSL. Never Stop Learning. It’s one of the few things you really have total control over and, at the end of the day, it’s what gives some people solid footing while others stand on shaky ground. 


As editor in chief of Floor Trends, Jeff is always on the lookout for the latest innovations and trends influencing the floor covering industry. He can be reached at