Getting out of your comfort zone

Talyn Rahman-Figueroa, CEO of Grassroot Diplomat, writes en-route to Thailand and reflects on her homelessness training.

Photo credit:  Céline Haeberly

Photo credit: Céline Haeberly

I’m on my way to Thailand to present a workshop at the United Nations. This will be the first time that Grassroot Diplomat trains delegates in Asia, and it is super exciting. As I write this blog en route to Dubai, it’s hitting me how June was all about getting out of my comfort zone. What does it mean to get out of our comfort zone? Surely, diplomats experience this all the time, right?

The job of a diplomat isn’t as easy as it sounds. You are constantly moving, always working with new and difficult people, working around unfamiliar languages, customs and cultures, and working against the tide. How are you supposed to stand firm and get your message across accurately, positively and without incident when there are so many large and sometimes, scary obstacles standing in your way?

Diplomats have to be resilient and this all comes with experience. The more we practice, share and report back, the more resilient our character becomes. We can’t hide behind desks and computers and expect change to change. We need to go out there, speak to people no matter what their intention is. We need to be bold and use these challenges as a way to improve our self-development and take each experience as a learning tool.

This month, I signed up to volunteer at a homeless shelter to spend time with homeless kids in the local area. Homelessness can happen to anyone of us at any point in time, and that thought alone makes me feel so vulnerable. As part of my volunteer training, we were taught to be positive ALL THE TIME. We have to use positive language. Our body language had to exude positivity. And no matter how naughty or difficult a child is, we can NEVER report negative behaviour back to the parents who are already going through a tough time. Instead, we turn something negative as “Ugh, Billy painted the wall again” to saying “Billy really loves green, huh”. And that alone taught me a lot about how much impact our language has on our self-esteem and relationship with others.

Diplomacy is just like that…offering bad news in a positive way that does not harm relationships. And I’m not very good at that. And I don’t have recent experience working with children, so this experience is actually quite frightening to me.

But I’ll embrace it and try this because it is something new. When people learn that I’m volunteering my time as a new expat, they say it’s really brave and selfless of me to do so. But I don’t see it that way. I’m going to get so much more out of this experience than perhaps the children themselves. I can be replaced in an instant by someone who is even more committed and enthusiastic as I am. But the lessons and experience I will take away from this will be incredibly valuable. I don’t think that’s very selfless.

So, once a week after my Thailand trip, I will commit my time to these kids and learn to do diplomacy truly at grassroots level.

I would love to hear your stories about how you get out of your comfort zone.

Also, I will be doing Instagram stories during my time in Thailand, from my Muay Thai training to my time at the United Nations. Please be sure to follow me via @becomeadiplomat.

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Serving your with love and hope,

Talyn Rahman-Figueroa
CEO, Grassroot Diplomat

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