How to Develop a Safe Space and Grow Professionally

When I was working on my undergrad degrees, I had a professor named Virginia Kugel-Zank who has the most magnificent office. She had these lush purple chairs that faced her desk and the room smelled warm and inviting. She had a little gargoyle seated on her large, classic desk and to her right her room was lighted with a stained glass window. It was amazing. Professor Zank championed to have a Learning Center developed at Missouri Valley College.

As I originally wrote on the college website:

The Learning Center, nestled on the third floor of Baity Hall, was renovated in the summer of 2002. Students are invited to study in this gorgeous environment complete with the original vaulted wood ceiling, cozy seats, and glorious stained glass windows. Students have access to lightning fast Internet service, tutors in a variety of disciplines, and an open door policy to the office of the director.

The history of this room is the history of the college. MVC alumni knew this room—at various times—as a chapel, a classroom, and a lab. Former students who come back to MVC have wonderful stories to tell about the events they experienced in this room. Current students will, no doubt, add their stories of success to that history.

Today, just like it did when I was in school, The Learning Center provides academic support and encourages students to achieve their full potential.

I asked Professor Zank why this place was so important to her and she said it was important to develop a space that gives people a safe place to learn. Yes, it was a quiet study environment and yes, it was staffed with tutors, students and staff. But more than that, that space that she envisioned became the hub of the college.

Which leads me to my point: regardless of where you’re exploring and learning in the world, it’s important to develop a safe place to learn, fail and grow. Professor Zank did that with stained glass, comfortable seating, and a welcoming environment but I think it’s important to find a space that allows you to do the same regardless of the college or university you attend, which office you choose to set up as an entrepreneur or manager.

It’s important because if you don’t feel safe in your environment, how are you going to test out new theories to drive your business forward? How are you going to be compelled to do research when there’s no one looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re on task? How are you going to give yourself the opportunity to learn new tactics to implement in your programs? How are you going to engage if you don’t feel connected?

What elements can you borrow from The Learning Center to set up your own space?

  • Give yourself a quiet area. Maybe music is your thing. If so, bring headphones. But keep the space peaceful.
  • Keep contacts readily accessible. Think of them like tutors in college. If you get stuck, just call.
  • Keep it clean, clutter free, well-lighted and comfortable.
  • Make sure it’s beautiful—really beautiful so you remember the space long after you’re gone.

If you make yourself an inspirational environment, you’ll reach your business potential.

About the Author

Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.