Running a coworking space isn’t easy.*
Running any workspace isn’t easy, actually. If someone tells you it is, they’re either doing it incredibly poorly or have an amazing right-hand wo/man who is doing all of the work. It is hard work to keep operations running smoothly while succeeding in business, let alone making everyone happy in the process. From debt collectors to clients to employees, everyone needs something to keep them satisfied, which means that being a good manager is hard.
As all of you know, the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce started LAX Coworking, our collaborative workspace aimed at elevated local small business and entrepreneurs, almost three years go. Adding a coworking space to our repertoire was a great idea; it allowed us to support rising business in new ways, helping to grow our business climate from the ground up, making the LAX Coastal area—as well as the LAX Coastal Chamber—look great. But adding coworking also gave us one more office to manage, and since we’ve already established that managing one office is hard, managing two might be a little more difficult.
This doesn’t mean we weren’t up to the challenge, however. It just meant that we needed to do a little more research. We needed to learn from the wisdom (and mistakes) of others, find out what they did and how we can do it better. We read statistics and surveys, met with other coworking owners and operators, and joined many, many, many, did I say many, mailing lists. Just like the one from SnackNation that arrived in my inbox a few days ago with the ever-enticing-practically-custom-made-just-for-me clickbait: “The 9 Undeniable Characteristics of a Rockstar Office Manager.”
(How did they know that I want to be a Rockstar Office Manager?)
So I read the article.
As a small aside, there is a recurring theme in the life and career of Kirby, one that I’m sure anyone who is actually reading this (as a personal favor to me, probably, so thank you) is aware of, and that is that Kirby likes to be a workaholic. I say likes, not just is, because it must be something I enjoy since I seem to be practically incapable of stopping it. Ever see the movie Whiplash? I did. With my parents. Everyone who left the theater was shaking their head, wondering (spoiler alert) why Andrew went through all of the pain and torture of such an abusive teacher just to become a better—arguably the best—jazz drummer. I looked at my parents and proclaimed, “I can totally see why he would ruin his life to become the best.” I was raised to always give 210% to whatever I did, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, because it is important to be proud of yourself and what you accomplish. It is important to know that you truly did your best when other people are counting on you, or even when you are just counting on yourself. You know in your heart when you cut corners and lack effort, and I never wanted to be left with the feeling of, “I could have done better.”
Now, did I take this to a slight scary place of over-exaggeration? Maybe. But you can be damn sure I will spend the rest of my life doing a great job, no matter what it is.
But there’s a catch. In the world of the workaholic… Actually, no. In the world of the worker, it is important to know yourself. Know your mind. Know your body. Know your tendencies. Know your work ethic. Know your limits. If you’re an athlete, know when your muscles are telling you to slow down so you don’t hurt yourself. If you’re a workaholic, know the warning signs before you crash so you know when to take a little time to yourself. When working hard it is important to also work smart, and understanding how much your mind and body can take is the most important thing a person can know.
What does that mean? That means that when you read an article entitled “The 9 Undeniable Characteristics of a Rockstar Office Manager” and the expectations seem both excessive and unrealistic, don’t kill yourself over not being as perfect as the fictional character you are reading about in 72dpi.** You do not have to have unparalleled flexibility, or stellar organization, or complete accessibility. You don’t need to be unreasonably optimistic or have creativity that borders on magic. You do not have to have unbreakable confidence and the skills of a Jedi.
Yes, running a workspace isn’t easy and yes, being a manager is hard, but it’s about time that you really started believing the cliché that nobody is perfect. Because we aren’t. And because you know what my countless hours of research and endless mailing lists have taught me? The best quality in a good manager is one who cares. Simply believe in what you are doing, believe in your message, and believe in the people you work with, and I can promise you that, in the end, that will always be enough.
*Running a coworking space while you’re working full-time, running your own business, teaching/taking Krav Maga, and attempting to finish the second draft of your book… Well, that’s just a challenge.***
**No offense SnackNation. Your article was great, but it’s important to keep expectations like these in perspective so that you don’t create more Kirbys in the world who think they need to be perfect at everything.
***See, I told you I took it to a scary place.