Nope, that’s not red paint!

Dune bashing* is fun; my first time dune bashing yesterday should have been fun but it wasn’t as fun as it could be.

[*nope, this has nothing to do with moaning about the Dennis Villeneuve sci-fi film but the joy of taking a 4×4 🚙 out into the desert 🏜 to power over some sand dunes]

The reason being is that I had pretty bad sunburn and every time the 4×4 went flying through the air going over a sand dune, all I could think about was the intense pain as the seatbelt rubbed against my red, highly-sensitive shoulder.

It was pretty much the same when we went for a trek in the desert later in the day heading for a wadi where we would go swimming.

Whilst I couldn’t wait for the soothing wadi waters to ease my pain, the hike there with rucksack over both shoulders was agony. Then, when we eventually got there, the guide’s suggestion (which then became peer pressure) for us all to cliff-jump into the waters became the equivalent of 1000 razor blades being applied to my body 😬.

Why was I sunburnt?

To understand how it had got like this, we need to rewind to a couple of days before to when I had started the holiday part of my latest work-travel adventures in Oman.

For my first day off, I had accepted the offer from a friend to visit some fantastic islands to go snorkelling with turtles and dolphins 🐢 🐬 .

It was a most excellent day spent mostly on a boat 🛥 followed by visiting a nearby Fort 🏰 .

However, despite literally blogging the previous week about useful travel tips, I had made the cardinal mistake of many over-confident westerners: not putting on enough sunscreen ⛱️.

Yep, I had over-estimated my Arab roots when it came to my skin and as a result I was so red that I almost shone in the dark 🔦.

What were the consequences of my sunburn?

Now sunburn can seem innocuous enough but it really has a direct impact on Focus Quotient.

To start with as, shown by my experience in the 4×4 (and in fact during all activities I undertook in the next few days post sunburn), all my mind could think about was the sunburn and how painful it was.

It made fun things less fun, it made mundane thing more intense and even put me off such staple things such as sleeping and eating.

Because I didn’t have any painkillers my short term solution was to take multiple cold showers, apply body lotion regularly, use cold towels as compresses, drink plenty of water (which meant increased visits to the toilet and/or worrying about when my next trip to the toilet was going to be) and to go on a hunt to source some paracetamol/ibuprofen — the combination and frequency of all these activities took my focus away from my precious holiday time/enjoyment.

Just as big a problem was that for 2 nights, the pain was so intense that I found it incredibly hard to sleep. There was literally no single position in which I could sleep without aggravating the sunburn meaning long periods of insomnia packaged around the occasional 20 minute snoozing before waking up in pain.

Going into each fun activity the next couple of days was a struggle as I balanced lack of sleep, throbbing pain and full bladder with having to apply my poor selection of treatments.

I found myself calling upon my many different Resilience techniques such as “Would I use my genie in a bottle on this” genie 🧞‍♂️, “This too shall pass” and all the experiences of setting up a new start-up just before covid.

What have I learnt?

It’s amazing how one terrible decision can come to play such an important role in so many things, taking centre stage for multiple days. Imagine if I had had some super-important event during that time; I would practically be robbed of all my focus and would invariably be applying minimal effectiveness to the task.

It’s the same in your working life, when not dealing with something properly first time or something bad unexpectedly popping up can suck our focus from the important things we should really be focused on — take for example Shiageto’s massive IT issues that came to life about a year ago, brought about by a hasty decision on what email exchange to use when we first set up the business, which almost brought our business to a standstill.

It’s funny because my business (Shiageto Consulting) helps other companies anticipate and improve their FQ so as to be more effective but, in this situation I was at a mercy to something so simple.

All of this could have easily been averted if I’d just applied sun cream.


I’d love to say that this is the last time I’ll need this lesson but I’m sure I may make this mistake again not only when it comes to sun cream but also in other aspects of life.

Still, as the memory of this particular sunburn remains fresh in my mind (the peeling shoulders are a good reminder too), I certainly will be more wary of upcoming potential focus distractors so that I can keep my Focus Quotient (FQ) flying high.

Hopefully you can also take something from my pain too so that you don’t make the same mistakes; at the very least, please don’t forget your sun cream next time the sun is out.

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

Success = IQ x EQ x FQ

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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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