Step out of your comfort zone: it's the best thing for your business

The moment you decide to become an entrepreneur you should realise that certainty goes out of the window

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 6, 2017 Afghan visitors ride a fairground ride at the Park Shahar or City Park in Kabul.
Agence France-Presse's chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, was killed April 30, AFP has confirmed, in a secondary explosion targeting a group of journalists who had rushed to the scene of a suicide blast in the Afghan capital. Marai joined AFP as a driver in 1996, the year the Taliban seized power, and began taking pictures on the side, covering stories including the US invasion in 2001. In 2002 he became a full-time photo stringer, rising through the ranks to become chief photographer in the bureau. He leaves behind six children, including a newborn daughter.

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The moment you decide to become an entrepreneur you should realise that certainty goes out of the window. You no longer can predict how your weeks and months to come will pan out for you. That’s what the package contains and there’s no way out of it.

Let me give you an example: at one point in my business, I was completely broke, and at another months passed by without proper income because of the tough economic situation, and then came the time when my arms ached all night because of the number of emails I had to type, replying to all interested potential clients.

This is how crazy my entrepreneurial journey has been, but I would never trade it for certainty. Certainty equates boredom for me, and nothing gives me an adrenaline kick more than entrepreneurship.

The bottom line is that in this journey, you can’t really guarantee anything, except that you will be placed outside your comfort zone more than you’d like.

The good thing is that at least you have one thing guaranteed: you will often be faced with this situation. And the best way to handle it gracefully, is to prepare for it.

Yes, that’s right!

Practicing to be outside your comfort zone, is something you can learn. Let me share my experience with you:

Do something new that's outside your comfort zone

I love traveling but I am an absolute chicken on a plane. The slightest bump in the flight sends my brain in hyper-drive imagining the worse possible scenarios. I hate the way I feel because I’m always calm and collected, and I don’t like that side of me that exposes itself on the plane. So, what did my friend suggest? That I should do it more often, to deliberately fly in winter when the plane is bound to shake and move, and to listen to podcasts by ex-pilots who explain the dynamics of the plane and its engine. And so, I did.

It wasn’t easy at first, but it got better with time. I decided to apply that to my daily life. For instance, I got on roller-coaster rides which absolutely terrify me, slept in a resort that had lizards roaming around freely -- and you guessed it right -- those tiny shy creatures terrified me and I travelled to new destinations that I wouldn’t have chosen prior to that.

I also went through a 100 days of life experiment where I tried new things every single day of that period, and that has altered me completely. It broadened my perspective, made me more appreciative of the smallest things, and simply made me a happier, more collected person.


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Assume different roles in your business

The more you are aware of the different parts of your business, the better prepared and more understanding you become when an unexpected crisis hit that particular part of the entity. In my media company, for instance, I look after the marketing and business development sides, but from time to time I deliberately juggle other tasks to understand them more fully. Lately, I’ve been working a lot with the creative team, specifically, with videographers, and what are the best shots to choose in order to keep viewers glued on social media platforms. I’ve also been executing photo shoots around cultural topics, and I discovered that I enjoy that process very much; something that I see myself doing more of in the long run.

Focus on the good

Last but not least, as terrible as your situation may be, remember all the good stuff that are still going right for you. It may sound a bit cliché but it’s true. These are the kind of things that keep us going. My comfort zone, my happy place, is my home. I love the fact that I can always guarantee comfort and peace there no matter how hard my day may be. I love that my family is supportive, caring, and their love pulls me through any dark day. Focus on “good things” and always, always keep in mind that no matter how hard a thing may seem, it is only temporary. It too shall pass, and you will have another day, to face something different, and that will be all right as well.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi