9 O'Clock at night
Before Covid, there was a time I actually found refuge and solace in my office. In fact, it is only in the last couple of years that I have set up a functional home office, and have felt a measure of productivity in a home office. During these days of Covid, it is now a necessity.
As a business owner, I was often struck with the loneliness of the decision making. All day long, there hundreds of decisions to make. The larger ones, I would attempt to gather opinions, consensus and advice. The smaller ones, I would snap off. I was a gut instinct guy. If it felt right, I tried to trust what I was feeling.
There was something I envied about my friends who had corporate jobs. They had teams around them to insulate them from the constant feeling that they weren’t doing enough. Or that the decision was going to be wrong. Or that the effect of their decision could impact many people’s lives.
I am not, and was not, a detail guy. I did not get lost in the details. Often, I had trouble finding them. But it scared me to make the a decision that would hurt the company, and affect peoples jobs, and lives.
Which brings me to the title of this article.
Many evenings I would make sure to be the last one out the door. It served me in several ways. Who popped into my office to say goodnight before leaving? Who dashed out at exactly 5:00, and who stayed a few extra minutes to clean up the few remaining details?
Sometimes an employee would come into the office to discuss a nagging issue he or she was having. Sometimes at work and sometimes personally.
But often, it was a time to just get things done. Quiet. And I found other people of influence were alone in their offices at this time. Leaders, alone with their thoughts, dealing with many of the same challenges I would. I would call, and we would unburden ourselves. Some were customers. Some were people I admired.
And the tough thoughts. The tough decisions. At 9:00 at night, knowing I would come in the next morning, and let an employee go. Sometimes it was an easy decision. An employee caught stealing. Or a salesman who hadn’t hit his numbers because he was hiding and doing other things other than working.
And sometimes it was tough. Someone who had been hired into the wrong position because I or someone in our company had not really done our homework. Had not really asked enough questions and dug in hard enough. Knowing that I would send that person home the next day to their family without a job. Those are the ones that stuck with me.
Entrepreneurship is the most fulfilling and exciting endeavor on this Earth. The thrill of lining up a new customer, of growing, of providing a satisfying and safe place for people to work each day is second to none.
But the flipside is that there is no place to hide. There are no excuses. There is only us.