Terror in the Executive Suite

My office, before I moved inWell, not a suite, exactly. My new office is just eight by 12 feet, with a spacious conference room and a small kitchen down the hall.

There’s no “Amityville Horror” stuff going on here. So how could my modest office cause terror?

I began looking for an office outside my home in 2008, I think, but I was stymied by the high rents ($1,000 for a tiny interior office, no window, no conference room. No dice!) After looking for several months I put an outside office on the back burner, but finding an outside office was never completely out of my thoughts and wishes, even when it had slipped out of my committed plans.

Earlier this year I found a building where the rents were more affordable, the spaces more appealing, the location convenient, and the other tenants congenial. I followed up zealously with the rental agent, hoping to get a shot at a vacant office there.

Many people who know me would consider me fearless. Or if not exactly fearless, then able to act in the face of my fears. So imagine my surprise when the office that I had wanted for years became available and I found myself suddenly lacking in courage. How do I know I lacked courage? At first, I didn’t. What I observed was that I was having a hard time making a decision. I felt cranky. I didn’t want to¬† talk about the office with anyone.

After a few days of wandering around with my undies in a bunch, I realized that what I was embarking on was a big step. It involves moving, and in my experience the human animal is often reluctant to embrace the challenge and accept the sense dislocation that comes with moving. It involved added expenses — another phone line, another phone, more furniture, another printer, a different file cabinet to fit the new space, a change to my business insurance. It required a lot of decisions: would I add the new office address to my business cards? How did I want the sign on my door to read? It required changes in habits: no having breakfast with my husband at 8:45 then keeping a phone appointment at 9 am.

This change was no minor one for me. There were a lot of places where I could “go wrong.” Of course I was a little unnerved! Once I realized that it was only natural to feel unsure about all that this move entails, I could take it easier on myself and work out which changes to make first, which purchases could be deferred, how to sort through my choices. I could begin to get excited about the possibilities that made me want an office outside my home in the first place, and I could share my excitement by telling others (like now!)

It was a vivid reminder to me to stay mindful. If I find myself (or a part of myself) acting unhappy and out-of-sorts, it’s important to stop and consider the source of the feelings, then welcome those uncomfortable feelings — fear and all — into my awareness.

The first and most important person that a business owner manages is herself. How you treat yourself is often a reflection of how you treat others, so start right. Be kind. Have patience. Communicate clearly. Listen carefully. Then decide and act. Now, that’s not so scary.

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