Former American business Executive Chair of IBM, Gini Rometty, once said, “Growth and comfort do not coexist.” She has a point.
When I made the decision to purchase my building to further expand my company’s Contribution in the World, I wasn’t at all comfortable. Not. At. All. While my heart was telling me to move ahead, my head questioned everything.
How could I undertake renovating 51% of a building in two months and still run my mentoring business?
How was I going to furnish everything?
What was I going to do about the unplanned expenses?
How would I find members for the coworking and tenants for the private suites?
The list of questions was endless. The list of hurdles was long.
One of the biggest hurdles came after purchasing the building. I couldn’t find a general contractor. It wasn’t from not trying to find one. Despite numerous calls, I didn’t receive any return calls. Not. One. Return. Call.
Each week that went by was a week I couldn’t move in my existing business, a week I couldn’t market the coworking and conference center, and a week I couldn’t bring in my clients to the new headquarters. My lease was up and I was on borrowed time at my former location.
There were days that I questioned if purchasing this building was a good idea. It wasn’t moving in my timeframe.
Phone call after phone call led me to the seller’s agent who introduced me to a commercial property owner. It was a fortuitous meeting with another building owner that changed everything. He suggested that I handle the renovation myself.
Uncomfortable Growth Opportunity Presents Itself
I remember laughing at his suggestion to be my own General Contractor. I never owned a commercial property, never renovated, and didn’t know any trades. In my discomfort with I-didn’t-know-what-I-didn’t-know, I was giving all of the reasons why my handling the renovation wouldn’t work.
In one generous offer, he erased all of the reasons: he would share his team of trades. Turns out the timing was perfect. The renovations at his buildings were slowing down and his team of trades needed the work. It was a win-win-win scenario.
He introduced me to his carpenter who was going to walk me through everything. I was so outside my comfort zone. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. It was a lot coordinating carpenter, drywallers, flooring, painters, electricians, plumbers, and HVAC with the city inspections.
I had no idea the flooring goes down before the toilet is installed. I didn’t know inspectors would ask to see the HVAC Manual that comes with each of the 6 units that needed to be replaced. I didn’t know there were programmable thermostats. I didn’t know not all architectural designs that seemed to work on paper might not work on old buildings that have their own character and slanted walls.
What I did know is how to reverse engineer timeframes, see beyond the ugly into the potential of a space, and figure out creative solution to seemingly impossible problems. In those times, I leaned on those distinctive skills. I became comfortably uncomfortable. Comfortable in the discomfort.
I also didn’t know it was a big deal to complete a major renovation in two months. In this case, the lack of knowing worked in my favor. According to my commercial broker, she said it rarely happens that the renovation of that size is done in two months. I owe it to my team of trades really. I couldn’t have done it without them.
In my discomfort I grew my skills, knowledge, and capacity. The capacity to forgive myself for costly decisions. The capacity to forgive others for not meeting their promises while holding them to account with grace and strength. The capacity to take on more and to delegate more. The capacity to be comfortably uncomfortable.
What skill did you grow after moving through an uncomfortable situation?
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