What Should You Do When Your Corner Office Becomes A Kitchen?


Several years ago, I resigned from my job to go back to school full-time. After I graduated, it took over a year to secure another full-time position. My new job paid less and wasn’t as prominent as my previous one, but I believed in the organization’s mission, and I felt that I would be an asset. I also knew that my ability to obtain another job would be easier after securing this new role.

I arrived on the first day of work only to discover that my office was in the kitchen. One side of the room was my office, and the other half was a small kitchen area. Normally, I would’ve had major issues with this arrangement, especially since the person reporting to me had the better space, but I was grateful to be working again. So, I tried to work through the situation.

One day, a student who participated in the organization’s program came in to use the kitchen; not realizing the space served dual purposes. She was perplexed and asked, “Why do they have you in here?” The comment embarrassed and angered me. I wasn’t upset with her. I was resentful about my current condition…grateful to be employed, but trying to make the best out of something I thought was beneath me. You see, I had become accustomed to certain amenities due to my previous professional roles and I battled to understand how I ended up in the kitchen.

Days later, after some soul searching, I realized that what’s in the office is not as important as what comes out of it. Meaning, it is not the quality of the space I occupy; it is the quality of my work that speaks for me. This revelation was a major wake up call. The awakening transformed and enabled me to be a better leader.

I went on to bring the best me to that role. I helped the organization to develop several initiatives and resources that were not in place before my arrival. I also had the opportunity to impact the lives of awesome students and staff.

Once my purpose there was fulfilled, I was on to another journey within nine months. In my new job, I received a better office, a more prominent role, and a tripled salary.

So, what should you do when your corner office becomes the kitchen? You make a humble pie. You must Humble Yourself and recognize that your value is not in the location or the size of the office. Your value is in the work you produce, the help you provide, and the change you create.

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Dr. Johnette Ruffner-Ceaser is the Founder & CEO of Liberated Expressions, LLC. Dr. Ceaser has served as a progressive nonprofit executive, with over 16 years of leadership experience managing local and nationally recognized education programs. She created Liberated Expressions from her journey to personal and professional freedom. She uses the lessons from her voyage to do transformative work in communities across the country.

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