Having been an entrepreneur for 10+ years there is little I miss about working for “the man”, “the woman” or anyone AT ALL. Actually there isn’t a thing I miss about working for anyone else other then myself, as I am my bestest boss… EVER! Except I miss
the co-workers. Those people you would spend 8 hours+ a day with. Some of them weremeatball blog not exactly your cup of tea and if it wasn’t that you both worked at the same place chances are you would have never crossed paths; whether good or bad these relationships developed over time really added a dimension to your life, both personal and professional that is absent when working for yourself.
One Halloween I had an older colleague, lets call her Sally, dress up as baby New Year. I still remember looking up from my work to see Sally, a 55-year-old woman coming down the hall in matching flesh coloured tights and a bodysuit adorned with a sash that said happy 2004! Lets just say it was the most excitement the uptown insurance brokerage we both worked for had seen in a while. The comic relief she provided would get me through some long LONG insurance policy wording filled days. I still chuckle fondly at that memory, I MISS YOU SALLY!
As I was ruminating this blog post in my mind, I came across an interesting article in INC.com (http://www.inc.com/magazine/201504/leigh-buchanan/tipsheet-its-about-to-get-weird.html) titled why you should keep things Weird at work. The article speaks to the growing alternative work environments found in start-ups and why they work; but in particular I wish to point out the mention of how people who are able to be themselves in the workplace create a welcoming work environment. When I read this it helped place into perspective why Sally came to mind when I was thinking of quirky co-workers and how they improved my productivity, work environment and overall job satisfaction. She brought IT to work everyday, her real self; regardless of what the rest of the office thought she was just her and boy did she manage to make things fun!
The life of an entrepreneur has a level a commitment and an alternate pace that only those who have actually attempted it can understand. A huge component is how lonely and isolating it can be. No unexpected co-worker sharing there weekend happenings or water cooler Avon sales. Staying connected with the world is essential to live a healthy and balanced life, so a strategy for mitigating some of those challenges is key, especially if you are in business virtually. You can network, meet with clients face to face, but that daily grind is done solo for most self-employed individuals.
About two years ago I added a little Boston terrier to my family. This dog though only 20lbs came with what felt like 100lbs of maintenance, much more then I was used to. I thought to myself how am I going to keep up with my business if every couple of hours I am tending to little Demando’s needs. Let me tell you little Demando was the best thing that happened to my business. First off, like Sally, he brings IT everyday; Himself and all the doggyness that comes with it. There is no pretending for modesty sake, he naps on the job, he growls at the computer when she beeps and has no concept of designated playtime. He is unpredictable, fresh and lively, sort of like Sally. Now combine this with my innate work pattern, which according to Gretchen Rubin would be considered a marathoner (https://www.gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2013/06/are-you-a-marathoner-a-sprinter-a-procrastinator-weigh-in/) which means work until you are done and the combination can lead down interesting paths. Paths I might add that are by no means the most efficient way of working. But as an entrepreneur I work for myself because as my bestest boss ever I am often blissfully delusional to the unquestionable fact that I can simply do it better (it’s a disease we must all suffer from in order to make it, otherwise why try).
What Demando who’s name is actually Meatball (yes that’s his name, he came with it…) taught me was the frequent breaks, the moving around and the change of scenery distracted me just enough to actually be labelled a tool. As a self-proclaimed inefficiency slayer I just could not over look it, even if my natural entrepreneurial ego response is “I don’t need to change!” I was also able to realize that this is what that quirky co-worker would do in their odd way. Keep you on your toes, be a little unpredictable, bring joy and humor into every environment they were part of.
The change of perspective, the flow of ideas, all evolved from these breaks and all for the better. All of a sudden triggers would bring forth solutions to issues I had been working on for hours sometimes days. As I was stepping away from the work and placing my attention elsewhere for brief snippets of time, I was working better, more efficient, and I did not feel so tired by the end of the day.
I would like to say that knowing this I would naturally incorporate it into my daily routine but the reality is I am a marathoner through and through. Even though he sleeps on the job most of the day, Meatball earns his kibble by reminding me, in his Demando canine way, the needs for breaks equate to a more balanced and much more productive me. Now that’s a co-worker. Maybe I should dress him up as baby New Year this Halloween? I still chuckle…11 years later.