As I walked into my office this morning, I spied something out of the corner of my eye that looked out of place. The only way to get into my home office, where I see coaching clients 4-6 days a week, is to walk through my dining room. I also have some comfortable chairs set up for those occasions when I hold groups in my home. So here I am, about 45 minutes before my first client of the day arrives, and I see that my dog has brought a pair of my husband’s underwear downstairs and left it in the chair directly outside of my office. I quickly grab it and throw it down the basement stairs, and head into my office.
1. Can you manage the necessary upkeep that supports whatever image it is that you are trying to convey to those who come to meet you professionally?
After throwing the underwear down the basement stairs, I sat down to put together some paperwork that I wanted ready for the client who would arrive shortly for our first session. I was deep in thought, typing away, and heard all kinds of noise from the other room. I looked at my watch and decided I had time before they arrived to investigate. Not only had the dogs moved the chairs barricading the pull out trash can in the kitchen, but they had successfully pulled open the drawer, extricated the entire hefty bag from the barrel, dragged it to a more comfortable carpeted space, and dug right in. Apparently one likes his meat and the other likes sugar so they hadn’t been fighting over the contents of the previously well tied and secured bag. I threw the bag on the porch (where I’m sure the squirrels are chowing on it now) and left them with their meat containers and banana muffin cups.
2. Do you have a space that is free of distraction that allows you to separate professional duties from personal duties?
I have had many, many clients come to my home whom I have never met before and do think about the safety and security of my family and my home. Have I ever felt unsafe with a client? No. Have I ever wondered if I should? Not really. Do I have what I need in place to allow me to do the work every day without asking myself those questions on a regular basis? Absolutely.
3. Are you putting yourself or your home at risk of harm by having clients enter your personal space?
The answers to the above questions are something like:
(1) Sort of?;
(2) On good days, with a lot of discipline and sound machines on, yes; and
3) I suppose one never really knows.
Are the answers to those three questions really important at all?
Probably not. They keep me on my toes, but they are not deal-breakers. As I continue to shape this blob of metaphorical clay that sits in front of me (that is, continue to create what I want with this life I have), I realize that only two things matter:
- My personal values; and
- My professional “why”.
Working with someone to get clear on those two things is the best predictor of success for any life decision. What is important to you? My answer to that question includes the following: flexibility and efficiency with regard to time and scheduling, being available to my children in ways that meet our needs for accountability to each other and our emotional connection as a family community, and finally, creating joy throughout my day, every single day. If I can fulfill my mission, my professional “why”, while making sure these values are being honored, I can successfully manage a home office. Frankly, I can do anything.
So today, while I was throwing the underwear down the basement stairs, I laughed out loud at the story I could have shared with a client had they encountered tighty whities during our first appointment. When I discovered the dogs with their sweet and savory treats in front of them, I snapped a picture, threw the bag on the porch, and returned to my office, allowing the mess to stay there until my work hours are over. And finally, I have scheduled blocks in this week to prepare meals, do some household chores, and spend time with my kids, both being and doing with them. What is good for my clients, is good for me.
Knowing and honoring my values and staying in touch with my “why” are the only touchstones I need as I continue to mold my clay with this one, fabulous life I have.