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Facilitating for a week when ill — what I learnt the hard way

Facilitating For A Week When Ill — What I Learnt The Hard Way &Raquo;
Anyone for a kiss?

How much on an average day do you spend thinking about your tongue?

10 seconds? 1 minute maybe? 5 mins max?

I suspect I go whole days never even thinking about it.

Well this week, it was occupying my thoughts 99% of the time.


Last weekend I fell ill and caught a virus that caused (amongst other things) my tongue to swell, crack and sores to break out on every quadrant of my mouth (including all over the tongue — at one point I counted over 50 separate sores).

I couldn’t sleep on Sunday night as I was in a lot of pain (it felt like I’d scrapped my tongue against a razor blade every time I moved it) and as soon as daylight hit I plotted a way to my local doctor to get diagnosed and prescribed some medication.

“Even with the medication, it’ll take 7-10 days for you to overcome the virus”, he informed me.

At that point I didn’t fully let the words sink in as I was due to fly out a few hours later to deliver a week of workshops for a client in Germany.

Feeling grateful for having some 💊 in my pocket, I thought I can handle this and headed to the airport.

And so, one of my most challenging weeks of recent times began

At the airport I was in for my first dose of what the week was going to involve.

Thinking that I couldn’t handle any food, I got a fruit smoothie instead.

One sip in though, I started crying as the combination of sugar and acid from the fruit on my tongue overwhelmed me. It took me 10 minutes to compose myself and I decided no more food and drink (that wasn’t water) for the time being.

If only it was that easy!

My next problem was that one of the bits of the smoothie had caught between my teeth.

Without thinking, I flicked my tongue there to free it and so began another wave of pain.

“Ok,” I thought, “I’m going to have to pay attention not to do that again.”

My other major problem that had become apparent earlier in the day was that, with sores on the top and end of my tongue, it was very painful to talk.

Anytime I had to say any word that had a letter that involved the tongue making contact with the back of you teeth (such as a t, s, d) another wave of pain erupted…

This was definitely not a good place to be when I was being paid to run workshops all week.

I would have subbed in someone else but it was too late so I was going to have to make it through.

Off to Germany I went

My first day of facilitation (leadership development training) was tough; once again I struggled to sleep the night before because of the pain throughout the night and so come the end of the first day I had the trifecta of:

  • Minimal sleep over 2 days
  • Minimal food over 2 days
  • Perpetual pain as I’d had to speak for long periods

I certainly wasn’t able to give my best and my only saving graces were:

I was worried that my client might complain and that Shiageto Consulting might lose the contract as a result but fortunately they are a lovely bunch who we have been working with for many years so they were more concerned for my welfare.

Unfortunately day 1 didn’t end there

Nope! As only the scheduling gods can do, I had a virtual workshop to deliver for a separate client in the US that evening so despite only wanting to crawl up and sleep ahead of day 2, I had to gear myself up to “go again for another 4 hours”.

Once again, I was immensely grateful to my co facilitator (different person) and my cold bottle of water but it was, in some ways, even tougher.

When you deliver virtually you have to concentrate more and often have to enunciate more clearly to overcome any technical issues and the loss of some of your natural body language.

I was so glad to reach the end of the session; at which point I realised I was hungry so I headed to my hotel picking up some plain ramen 🍜 for my dinner.

“I reckon I can slurp the noodles and then drink the soup therefore not needing to involve my tongue in the eating process”.

Facilitating For A Week When Ill — What I Learnt The Hard Way &Raquo; 14Zgznoqnoymgp8Malfs6Fg
Trading one dinner for another

How wrong I was; it turns out the tongue is very much involved in the slurping process and the soup was too spicy so, after a few attempts, I ended up leaving the meal and paying an extortionate price for a mini bar yoghurt instead.

Progress was slow

The rest of the week followed much the same pattern.

I’d give my all to run 8 hours of facilitation each day with different groups, relying on my co-facilitators and my near-bathtub amount of drinking water.

Over the days, I became obsessed with checking my mouth every breaktime, rushing to the toilet (usually because I also needed to use it after all the water I’d been drinking) to have a look in the mirror or shoving my phone up close to take a photo.

I could see small improvements which would lead me to a false sense of security of overstretching myself with a coffee or a small piece of food, only to be brought back down to earth with a bump.

Whilst the facilitation sessions went well in the end; it was one of those weeks I literally couldn’t wait for to end.

Here I am at the end of the week, reflecting back

First off, I’m still not 100% recovered but I certainly feel like I’m over the worst of it.

As such it’s easier to look back and try and draw some conclusions that others/I might benefit from:

  1. Never take your health or something like your tongue for granted
  2. Put in place mechanisms to de-centralise your small business from you — that would have made it easier to sub myself for someone else
  3. Don’t be a martyr — tell others if you are suffering, you’ll be amazed at how much they will help
  4. Don’t over stretch yourself in your rush to get back to full recovery — you’ll likely come hurtling back again
  5. It’s ok to cry so much

Right! That’s about it from me and this experience; I’m happily going to go back to not thinking about my tongue so much.

I wouldn’t wish a similar situation on any of you; this has certainly been one of the tougher weeks in recent years that I’ve experienced.

One little mental trick that got me through the week was The Genie 🧞‍♂️; if you’ve never heard about it, read more in my bonus blog tomorrow.


Faris is the CEO and Founder of Shiageto Consulting, an innovative consultancy that helps firms and individuals sharpen their effectiveness. Connect with him here

Success = IQ x EQ x FQ

Want to assess your levels of IQ, EQ and FQ? click here

Facilitating For A Week When Ill — What I Learnt The Hard Way &Raquo; Stateventpost

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Faris Aranki Strategy & Emotional Intelligence

Having spent over 20 years delivering strategic change for the corporate and non-corporate worlds, Faris has experienced first-hand the fine differences between strategic success and failure.
His work has spanned numerous companies (from global behemoths to small start-ups), in numerous countries, across a range of sectors, supporting them all to unlock strategic success.

He came to realize that often what hinders institutions from achieving their goals goes beyond the quality of their strategy; it is their ability to engage effectively with others at all levels and remove barriers in their way. This has led to his passion for improving strategic effectiveness within all businesses and individuals and the foundation of Shiageto Consulting.

Over time, Faris has worked to distill his knowledge of how to solve complex problems in a structured manner combined with his skill on engaging effectively with others and his ability to quickly determine the barriers to a strategy's success. This knowledge has formed the foundation of Shiageto’s workshops, courses and methodologies. Faris believes that any firm or team can adopt these improvements; all it requires is a little of the right support -something Shiageto provides!

On top of leading our business, Faris is now an accomplished speaker and contributor for a variety of outlets.

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