“But it’s so comfy in my box, in my box here I will stay” ~ Dawud Wharnsby
This week I wrote on my task app something unique, something I had never written before, something that gave me knots in my stomach just thinking about it. I wrote, “Today, I will step out of my box.”
A long time ago, I read a quote that has echoed in my ears for years. It advised, “Do at least one thing every day that scares you.” It’s the same concept as stepping out of one’s box, but it hits the nail on the head: you’ll know you have stepped out of your box if what you are about to do scares you.
“The world is not a box” ~ DW
This week I attended the Global Islamic Economy Summit in Dubai. Unlike the typical North American conferences that have more of a big, yet general, Islamic Center community feel to it, this Global Islamic Summit is more of the kind of place where Islamic business project/thought leaders come together. The Hajj/Umrah app that I helped build, Hajj Salam, won the Global Innovation Award, a $20’000 prize, and our CEO got to shake hands with the ruler of Dubai!
Pause here. One thing you might not know about me, contrary to what you might have seen in my videos, I am a very deliberate and very quiet thinker type of guy. I don’t go around shouting, “AS SALAMU ALAYKUM, THIS IS MUHAMMAD ALSHAREEF, AND WELCOME TO …” 🙂 Loud noises disturb me. I love deep thought and quiet. My idea of an indulgent evening is going to a coffee shop that has the comfiest recliners, sipping on some traditional chai (not the Starbucks variety. I need the real Madrasi, Dood Phatti, local chai done right kinda thing), and curling up with a book that touches me so deeply that I think about it long after the final page.
Understanding that about me, you can now see why, on the morning of the Global Summit, I felt paralyzed. I don’t know; maybe I thought people would bite me if went up to talk to them. Maybe I felt like I would be standing in a crowd of people, all by myself, with nobody to talk to (memories of high school partner team-up awkwardness). Or maybe I thought, my box was just so comfy, maybe I could just stay here in my box and everything would be OK.
“Faith and flowers wilt and die if they are hidden from the sky” ~ DW
I have an emotions empowerment step by step strategy that, in sha Allah, one day I’ll share with you. I sat down and used it on myself, and figured out that scared and fearful were my big trolls. But I shifted my mindset, addressed my fears, got dressed up, put on my shiny new black shoes … and off I went to the Global Summit. Alhamdulillah it was one of the turning points in my life.
“We’ve got to tip the lid and let some sunlight in” ~ DW
I met people who literally came up to me and asked me what I was working on next so that they could financially invest in it. Many people who had followed me for years came up to me and were so happy to speak to me and interact with me. Everywhere I went, people were so happy to introduce me to others and make me feel welcome. I got invited to networking functions with Muslim movers and shakers that I respect so much. From the conference stage, one of the speakers called me out in the audience and explained to everyone what an impact I had on his life. And for those of you who follow Visionaire and wonder about my Duas, that night one of my Duas was answered: that Allah would bless me with next-level Muslim mentors that would accept me and advise me.
I’ll finish this with a story about something that happened at one of the networking dinners. As friends always do at dinner invites, they huddle together at their own table. I was sitting there at the networking dinner with the 3-4 friends that I had known for years and was comfortable with — in other words, my box. I remembered what I had written on my todo list app, “Today, step out of your box.” So after a while, I said to my friends, “Gentlemen, please excuse me.” I got up and went to a table on which I knew not a single person, and which had no available chairs. I pulled a chair from a lonely table and said to the group of strangers, “May I join you?”
Alhamdulillah, the rest is history. That night, as I lay down exhausted, yet exhilarated, I opened up my todo app and clicked on the task: “Today, step out of your box.” I set it to repeat. Daily. 🙂
Founder and President of DiscoverU, an Islam-based personal development institute. Muhammad Alshareef graduated Islamic Law from Madinah University and holds a Masters Degree from West Virginia University. Canadian, ethnically Egyptian, and a true citizen of the world. He writes about Islamic solutions to popular personal development questions.