I can’t believe the last 10 nights of Ramadhan are approaching. Fasting for nearly three weeks now, and as I have mentioned in my previous posts, I have settled into a nice routine. A lot of people ask me about how I have been managing my professional life with fasting, and I thought about this, and compiled some thoughts that I am going to share.
Firstly, and if you know me, you know this: I work at a high intensity. Working out, creating content, designing clothes, managing customer service and operations teams, creating products, helping others. I am an intense person. This translates to how I run my companies. I insist on the highest standards, and the expectation is that we deliver results. Everyone on my staff is expected to have a bias for action to get things done, and no problem is too small to be important. “Problems are treasures”, we always say: because if we solve them we learn how to avoid making the same mistake twice.
I won’t sugar coat it: fasting while working is difficult. You do settle into a rhythm eventually, but it can be tough. I thought about “why” with alot of emphasis on what fasting changed about how I operated, vs. just the fact that it changes things. You know, trying to understand the root cause, not just identify the symptom.
Fasting tought me to be more prescriptive with my communication. Dry mouth, empty stomach: that's enough to want to keep things short. But the needs of my staff, business, and customers don’t go away. I am still expected to deliver and set the tone every day. Fasting taught me how to say more, by saying less. I found myself communicating through effective emails more often, and reevaluating the need for recurring meetings, when they could be replaced with more effective mechanisms to establish a rhythm of the business. When I am communicating in person, it’s with a clear agenda and a well defined goal. I guess what I’m saying is I operate with much more intention in my actions, and the mediums of communicaiton I engage in represent this shift in paradigm.
Fasting also teaches you to be more cautious about how one reacts. I am a person that trusts my instincts. But being in a fasted state sometimes doesn’t combine well with reacting on the fly. In running my businesses, I have found myself grow more comfortable letting things that require my decision sit for a couple hours, or even a day. This time allows me to understand more holistically the impacts of my decision, but also subconsciously go through multiple scenarios based on different decision options. I let things play out in my head, and then make a decision based on the most desirable outcome.
Fasting has also taught me to look for ways to be more empathetic. I always put myself in others’ shoes; but fasting taught me to look for ways to do this differently. For example, I’ve spent much more time attacking processes vs. looking for fault in people when things don’t go right. I’m intentionally assuming positive intent with people, and that’s letting me uncover process defects and opportunities to be more efficient with my business communications. This is translating to a greater sense of collaboration across my organization and more organic efficiencies.
All in all, I’ve matured as a person and as a leader during this Ramadhan. Fasting continues to teach me how to starve my ego, and feed my soul: and I am finding benefits in every aspect of my life. At home, at work. Professionally, and personally.