We have all unwillingly been forced to face so many unknowns with this pandemic. Some of us have embraced the unfamiliarity better than others, but we are all adjusting to the new normal one way or another. Some of us have faced the new challenges by setting intentions and others have taken it one day at a time. 

Some of us have found creative ways to deal with what’s been going on while others have been silent observers. But overall, human ingenuity has been on display and is very complex.

As for my approach, it has been a balancing act, but one thing that is certain is my approach to take things step by step and day by day. As a result, I see that I am moving forward, and likely at a pace faster than before the pandemic shutdown.

Let me explain.

Before the pandemic, I had this daring dream for so long of stepping outside my shell; getting more confident; and building a platform to speak about my experience to increasingly larger audiences. As a doctor, speaking to my patients is one of the best perks of the job, and it has inspired me to share my life lessons with more people. 

I was always interested in becoming a speaker, but I never really took steps towards making it a reality. The pandemic hit me with so many unknowns that I began to focus on what was important to me. I did a lot of thinking, and decided it was important for me to make deeper connections with people on a larger scale. When we connect to a larger community, it helps all of us come together, create value for one another and improve our relationships. 

And I know that I can build deeper connections if I put myself out there, and speak on topics I am passionate about. I have had to change my vision of being on the big stage with thousands in the audience to a virtual environment, but I am OK with that. What matters to me is the connections I make with other people. And I see virtual speaking as a way to reach even more people than as a traditional speaker circuit in live events.

It is exciting, but with that excitement comes more self-doubt. 

I have caught myself blaming the pandemic for what felt like a lack of productivity. I would find fault in my circumstances to explain why I hadn’t pushed harder to pursue my dream of becoming a global speaker.

When these thoughts crept into my mind, even when I tried to push them out, I did what I’ve done over and over again. 

I retreated to my shell. 

In my shell, I kept listening to the voices that told me that I did not and would not have the platform to speak my mind to the world. This created a negative feedback loop in which the same self-doubt occupied my thoughts as a recurring theme. 

Then my instincts started to kick in. You know that gut feeling that seems to be an internal voice of reason? My instincts told me to trust in myself like I’ve done so many times in the past. They told me to focus on all of the challenges that I have overcome.

I remember when my internal voice compelled me to leave my family in Iraq, and the only home I knew at a young age, to come to America. I felt so many emotions during that time, but the one and only thing that I listened to was that gut feeling. It said “go!’ And I went. All the uncertainties involved in that major decision were tremendously daunting and scary, but in hindsight, it was my instincts that told me to push forward.

Trusting my gut powered me through my negative feelings, and it is working again. 

Now, my gut feeling is telling me…

  • My voice can make a meaningful contribution to a larger community
  • Any headway following several setbacks is a net plus
  • Not to let others/circumstances undermine my vision
  • Not to bail after a failure or setback
  • Listen less to the noise of others and study the actions of those who’ve accomplished what I aim to achieve
  • Collaborate and connect with others instead of feeling unworthy to ask for help
  • Defeat my self-sabotaging thoughts
  • Trust in the learning process
  • No one will believe in me unless I do first
  • Thoughts influence actions, so it’s time to eliminate the negative self-talk and self-critique

This reminds me of a quote I heard Matt Higgins say in one of his interviews, “It’s not about where you began, it’s about where you end up, and how much distance you cover in between.” Even though I still have a long distance to cover in this journey of self-belief and trust, I’m a work in progress. 

My goals are within reach; I just need to trust and listen to my gut.

There is no bigger moment than this pandemic for any of us to transcend our values, our energy, our souls. So let’s take all the unforgettable memories and lessons from this pandemic with us to give new life to the you that you have always wanted to become. 

If you are an event organizer or work at a company that collaborates with guest speakers, I’d love to share more about my speaking topics to see if there is a good fit. Email me and let’s have a conversation. 

See what I did just then? I put myself out there, and what I wanted out into the world. I listened to my gut. 

And you should, too. 

Regardless of whether or not you trust your gut, I believe in you. Tweet me @ReyzanShali to share your thoughts on this blog!