Staying in The Flow: The entrepreneurial journey

In the past couple of years, I have made one big change in my life and that’s to make sure I stay in the flow. As entrepreneurs, we have been told that we need to work hard, all god-given hours, and bend reality.  All that’s true but it becomes a lot easier when you stay in the flow.  Startup success is not guaranteed by the number of hours you work, rather by how you use those hours to achieve your goal and that means living in the flow.

It has taken me some time in understanding what it means to be in the flow.  Many people think that they need to work hard, endless hours, weekends, and none stop.  I did that for the best part of 23 years.  I worked many weekends, I worked through my holidays, I might as well have had the mobile implanted in my head to save my hands from holding it. I proudly and always would announce that I am a workaholic and that nothing would stand in my way of getting what I wanted.

 I succeeded in getting everything I wanted but along the way, I lost many other opportunities of having fun, enjoying life, and realizing that there is a much easier way to get all the above, everything you want, and much more.   

That method is nothing more than tapping into and staying in the flow.  To understand this, you have to understand that we all go in different directions. To be in the flow doesn’t mean that you have to do what others are doing and how they are doing. Salmon is in the flow, but Salmon is in its own flow, and it flows against the current.  To be in the flow is to follow your direction and your flow and in order to do that, you need to tap into something deeper.  BUT how do you tap into that something deeper?  Sounds esoteric!. 

 Allow me just a few minutes.  If you’ve read so far, you will now agree that to be in the flow doesn’t mean that you have to be doing what everybody else is doing.   It also doesn’t mean that you should stop working towards your goal.  To be in the flow for Salmon means swimming harder than most other fish against the current, upstream, risking their lives on the way, and ending up exhausted and dying after laying their eggs. 

 Being in the flow for me has meant following my heart and doing what I love against all odds.  While a few years ago, I was struggling with my startup #Urbytus, I set up many events big and small.  I created The Presidents Club, we held annual conferences, quarterly meetings, forums, and so on.  I tried my hardest to get more clients, publicity. It was hard work and it worked and before the pandemic hit in March 2020, I was set to start more events.  We all know what happened next.  I was stopped dead in my track. For months I was unsure of how to get this back on track and I was struggling to find a safe method for recreating our forums and get-togethers in small numbers.   Until one day a long-term client of Urbytus sent an email with a bunch of questions.

 

I had two options, simply answer the email, like I answer all the support emails, or invite him to lunch, thank him for all these years of business and answer his questions in the process. Lunch with The Presidents Club, was born because of the pandemic and so far it has meant, I have learnt much more about some of my clients, I have addressed more of their concerns, we have discussed in detail and at ease the future of the product and what it needs to be in their view.

 

 

To be in the flow, meant letting go of old ideas and allowing the present to PRESENT me with new opportunities and possibilities. To be in the flow has been my way of life for the past 3 years, where I have been a startup mentor, teacher, and advisor. All of these opportunities have helped me along my path, life, and this beautiful journey on earth.  Being in the flow means doing your best and keeping your dreams live as your vision and using every opportunity that life throws at you on your path even if that means swimming against the current :-).  Love you all.

Embracing change, The only way to move forward

Change is possibly one of the most difficult things we face in life.  Changing schools, partners, jobs, countries, lifestyle, mobile, etc, etc, the list is never-ending.  Every time we have to try something new, food, place, or way of doing something there is something in our mind telling us “Wait, why change, everything is working as it is. Why bother? What are you going to gain and why put yourself to all that trouble and maybe be disappointed, fail or not achieve anything at all?”

Problem is that in order to avoid change and the discomfort that may accompany it we try to look for any possible excuse.  However every time we try new food, place, job, country … we find that it was not half as bad as we thought, it was not half as difficult as we thought and in most cases, we find that the benefits have far outweighed all the reasons we came up with in order to avoid the change.

A few months ago, I started a course of change with my new health coach “Mounira Nassef”, Founder of Every Day Healthier.   During this time we tackled many things.  Mounira found me of her hardest students to deal with as I was stubborn and resisted every change.  Drinking tea is part of the Iranian culture, yet I was experiencing issues with waking up at 2 or 3 am in the morning and feeling wide awake.  I was part of the 5 AM club, but if I woke up at 2 or 3 am that was the end of me by 4 pm.  

During our two months of training, Mona patiently helped me stop drinking after 2 pm. She held me to adopt other new habits and find ways of sticking to them.

Change is hard. It took me a few weeks before I agreed and accepted to change, to give up tea, to give a habit, which I felt was part of my culture, but it was nothing other than a habit.  Change is difficult at times, once I stopped drinking tea my body totally lost its rhythm. Initially, I got a week or two of good sleep and suddenly I was awake the whole night, and slowly and, over time my full sleeping pattern has changed. I no longer wake up at 2 am or 5 am. I currently wake up around 6 am, allowing my body to recover and find its new natural rhythm and hoping that I can recover my 5 am routine. 

Embracing change is not easy, it is not immediate, it is not always what you want but it is the only way forward. I am still going through the change and my body may need time to adjust further to this new change but in the process, I have adopted other new habits such as journaling and different types of mindfulness practices, love, self-care, and much more.

A big thank you to Mona, from Every Day Healthier. 

The entrepreneurial journey. The last mile

So many times I see entrepreneurs leave good projects, their dreams, and passion.  The entrepreneurial journey is never a straight line. The glorified image of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the rest are only part of a journey that has had equally as many downs than ups as other startups.  Your journey is no different than any other journey, it will have highs and lows.

Last Saturday at 9:30 I was out with a crowd of about 50 other walkers/runners for a 32KM run. As they all started a leisurely stroll, I stayed back as I usually do and started a very slow jog and slowly passing them.  The first part was downhill and soon what should have been an easy jog ended up being painful.  My knee locked up more or less at KM 3 before we had even reached the bottom of the valley.  I took notice of the pain and slowed down to adjust but it was too late.  I had already pulled a tendon or a ligament.  I could have turned around, but I decided to carry on. I tried running slowly, but it was too painful, so I walked. What would have normally taken me 3 hours max took me about 6 hours. I had to stop several times on route to sit and massage my knee so it would relax.  The sun was blaring down, it was hot and I had not put any suncream on my arms.  Not only was I in pain, but sometime around 13:00 I felt the sun burning through me.  There were four fast runners in front of me, they had long disappeared. Another runner whom I also run with was suffering from back pain, we walked together for about 1km and he also had to abandon me. For the rest of the journey from Km 18 to 32, I was pretty much on my own. 

I could have sat and called for help, I could have given up, however, I had one objective to finish.  I wanted to prove to myself that even if it is painful I can push the pain barrier. I meditated, blanked my mind and I listen to Pink Floyd and Dire Straights. I rehearsed the many motivational speeches I give to keep me focused.  It felt like a never-ending journey, but with every step, I knew that I am one step closer to the finish. With every step I knew that I am putting in the effort towards reaching my goal. In the end, I made it 16.24. I arrived at the finish line.

The last mile? Are you willing to go as far as it takes? Many times I see entrepreneurs give up too early. Whether it is a jog, marathon, or work, it is all the same. It all depends on how dedicated you are and how focused you are on your goal. If you keep your mind focused and remind yourself that with every step, you are one step closer to the finish, that’s all it takes.