Love the Struggle

Learn to love the struggle. Learn to love the work.

That’s what I kept telling myself as I was tearing out the drywall on our house. We’re renovating the place right now and it isn’t easy. There is some hard work to be done. Even though my dad and father-in-law are very handy we will still need to bring in a few professionals to handle some of the more critical work. That will cost money. Appliances will cost money. New floors, new lighting, new bathroom, new kitchen, it will all cost money.

I could sit around and stress about it. I did that for part of today. The thing is, when you are tearing away drywall and punching holes in the walls you tend to let some of that frustration and stress go. I’m not too worried about the cost of the renovations. Eliz has Continue reading “Love the Struggle”

Boredom

You ever been bored? I have. I used to be bored often. I was always saying “There’s nothing to watch on TV”, “There’s no good games on tonight”, or “There’s nothing on Netflix”.

I’m bored less often now. I have things to do. I’m reading Seneca’s On Tranquility. He says it doesn’t matter the ranking you may have in society. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. At the end of the day you have to be able to be alone with yourself. That’s tranquility. How do I reach that point?

At this point in my life I can do this by working on things that will eventually help me reach my ‘long term goals’. That’s an abstract term we all use. “What are your long term goals?”, “What’re your short term goals?”. Well, isn’t that relative to the person.

Right now, my 5 year goal is my long term goal. A few years ago, a 30 year goal was my long term long. I continually ask myself why I can’t achieve something in 6 months. I got the idea from Tools of Titans.

It’s worth asking. It doesn’t mean I’m going to accomplish my goal in 6 months but it may help me think differently. It may help me think of ways to reach my goals quicker.

The mind is always working. If there is anything I learned from reading books like Think and Grow Rich, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or Seneca’s On Tranquility. The mind has to be doing something. Even if you’re just sitting there watching celebrity news or a sports ‘analyst’. The mind is taking it all in. Your mind is going to fill itself with whatever you feed it.

I don’t think I was eating healthy up until a few years ago. Now that I eat healthier, I think about my mind. What am I feeding my mind?

It used to always be sports. All the time. I could tell you the scoring leader in the NBA the past 3 seasons. Yet, I couldn’t identify the type of business I wanted to start or what my goals were. I was just letting my life flow with the currents. Not taking control of my own ship.

That’s changing. I can tell it’s changing. I’m taking control of my life. I don’t read poetry often but I read Invictus. It’s the reason my online store is called Invictus Beard. I was introduced to the poem in Think and Grow Rich.

My mind is being filled with more valuable information. I’m taking a course on how to start an online business. How do get things done. If I ever feel stuck I can ask a question or I can watch a video on how to do it. I listen to Podcasts. I read books. I’m trying to feed my mind a healthy diet of valuable information.

I stopped watching the news. I avoid the popular page on Instagram. I barely watch any sports.

I think all of these things are just information that I used to digest to keep me away from what was most important to me. I would sit and watch news. Listen to everything bad that’s happening in the world. It may be good to be knowledgable on the current events of the world but I can always get that information from my friends. In fact, they are going to give me a better summary than the news because they actually think about it in a way that is going to affect them.

The other day I was in the car and my AUX cable broke. Naturally, I put on the radio. The major news of the day was that The Weeknd put out a “diss track” and it may be intended towards Justin Bieber. I turned to Eliz and said “Now I have to read 3 books to get that worthless piece of information out of my head”. Who cares? Why do I care what The Weeknd and Justin Bieber are up to? How are they helping my life? As a society we concentrate our efforts on the wrong things. We let our minds intake garbage. We let our bodies intake garbage. As soon as we can accept that, we can change it.

I’m not perfect and I’m not suggesting I’m even close to it. I’m saying I am getting better. It takes practice. Slowly I’m getting to a place where I’m feeding my active mind the right types of information.

I mentioned earlier that our minds are always active. That’s why we can grow bored. We sit and look for something to do. We think Netflix is actually helping this out. I used to think so. I’m barely ever bored now. All of this entertainment at my fingertips. All the time. I thought it was great but on the contrary it’s a dangerous thing.

I’m 25. I know about a lot of shows on Netflix. Lot’s of great shows on Netflix. Lot’s of great movies. I could sit there and watch something different every day. I would never be bored, but I think that may be the worst way to live.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I can help the world. I’ve always said I’m an environmentalist. The world is going in the wrong direction. Someone needs to change the tide. The year before winning the MVP of the NBA, Derrick Rose asked “Why not me?”. I ask this question to myself often. Why can’t I be the person that influences change? Right now, I’m simply focusing on myself. Trying to make myself better suited to take on bigger problems. Trying to see how I can help. What I can do. Before I make moves into that realm of the world I want to accomplish financial freedom. It’s step one. That’s why I’m working hard at bazinga!. That’s why I’m working hard on my own business. Ultimately, however, I want to accomplish something major. I look at Elon Musk and think why not me? I look at Leonardo DiCaprio’s work for climate change and think Why not me? I look at Al Gore and think why not me? In the past, you could’ve had an argument and said this was due to my ego. You probably would’ve been right. Now? I think it’s different. I don’t think I want to do it for me. I want to do it for the planet. I want to do it for my future kids. My nephew.

After all this talking about how much I don’t watch Netflix, there is one show on Netflix that I absolutely love. It may be my favourite show. Chef’s Table. Yesterday, I opened Netflix for the first time in a while and saw they released a new season. I watched the episode of Jeong Kwane, a Monk that cooks in a Korean Temple. I suggest everyone watch this episode. It was incredible to watch how preparing the food and cooking was a form of meditation for her. I was envious. I want to be able to live those monks. One with nature. One with my own mind. Truly free.

I feel as if I’m working towards something bigger than myself. It’s all going to come in due time. I just feel better about myself knowing that I am actually doing something. Actually working on it. Not just waiting around for something to change. Making changes within myself to ensure things around me change. First, I need to be able to free myself financially. Then I can concentrate on those bigger tasks.

 

Teenage Mehmet

Today was a busy day. Starting to feel the wrath of overseeing so many clients and at the same time hunting down prospects.

I like it.

Also went shopping. I needed jeans. I got a sweet pair. Looks great.

I used to hate shopping. With a passion. Maybe because I never wanted to get anything extravagant because money was tight. Even though my parents would never show that to us. I guess as kids we have more intuition than we think. My parents never said we couldn’t have something because of the price. Especially when it came to essentials like clothing.

I’m not saying we could pick anything in the Gucci store. I’m just saying if I wanted a nice pair of jeans my mom didn’t hesitate to get it for me.

Maybe I’m giving myself too much credit and I was just a lazy kid. I didn’t want to go shopping. Always put my mom in a difficult predicament. She knew I needed new clothes. She knew I hated shopping. So she would get clothes for me and I would get upset.

The nerve of young me. I oughta smack myself. This woman goes out. Thinks of me enough to buy me clothes. Brings it home for me to try it on. Then I get mad because she didn’t get what I want?

Eliz says I was raised spoiled and it’s examples like this that makes my argument that I wasn’t, weak.

Yet my mom would do that often. She’d get me stuff. She may even think to herself “He wouldn’t like this” or “Yeah, I think he’ll like this one”. I never considered any of those things. Teenage Mehmet. Thinks he is the shit. Too lazy to go shopping. Not to lazy to get mad at his mom for grabbing him something he doesn’t like.

I’m really making myself look like an ass here but now that I think about it, I just want to go hug my mom. How did she put up with me?

I guess that’s just what moms do. Or at least that’s what my mom did. Having support from loved ones is so important. It shouldn’t be taken for granted yet I always did. At times I still take it for granted.

I read Seneca’s letter to his mom when he was in exile. Incredible read. The insight that he had on his mom’s life was enlightening. I don’t think I know my mom as well as Seneca knew his. I feel I will get to know her more now that I realize that. I will take the time to do that. I don’t remember if I heard this in a movie or read it somewhere but it was something like “We don’t really know our parents”.

Isn’t that so true?

We come into the world and only think about ourselves. We’ll listen to stories our parents tell us but I don’t think we really know who our parents really were before we came along. We just knew them as the parents version of themselves. We never got to meet the young, single version of our parents. The ones trying to navigate through life. They ones that didn’t have to worry about Mehmet crying because he shit himself.

What were their dreams? Their aspirations?

My parents always tell me they are happy. I believe they are. Lately, since I’ve become more ambitious I’ve been trying to become an inspiration for everyone around me. Including my parents. I don’t think we ever truly stop trying to impress our parents or stop trying to make them proud.

Maybe that’s a fault on it’s own. I think parents always want the best for their children and sometimes that can translate to expectations.

I’ve learned that maybe I won’t meet the expectations my parents may or may not have for me. It’s not like they sit me down and tell me we’ll be proud of you if you make this much money. They aren’t like that. I think as long as I’m happy they’re happy.

This can also be tricky. What is happiness for my parents may not be happiness for me. My dad spent most of his life working. He still works. I am extremely proud of him for that and I don’t think I show it nearly as much as I should.

He had a family and he made sure he did everything he could to provide for my sister and me. He worked long hours. Multiple jobs at a time so my mom can stay home with us when we were younger. In NY he would work during the day then sleep on the train while on his way to his other job to pump gas. I don’t know if I could do that. He did. He did it so I wouldn’t have to. He made those sacrifices so I could go to school. Finish university. Have an easier life than his. He granted me opportunities that maybe he only dreamed of. Maybe those were his dreams. I may be living my dad’s dreams. I don’t know. I’ll have to ask him. I look forward to that conversation. Maybe I’ll have it this weekend over some Raki.

It’s because of my parents that I am able to dream bigger. The sacrifices they made brought me to this position. I understand very clearly now it’s time for me to take the baton and run with it.

I may not be able to do exactly what they want but that may be okay. They brought me to the place I am now. On the verge of huge changes. “2017 is the year of implementation”. This year we are going to get things done. Planning phases are complete.

It’s all about doing this year. That’s why I am so adamant about my online store, Invictus Beard. I’ve been talking about starting my own business for a long time. Now I get to start one that I can work on after regular work hours. Doesn’t take up too much of my time and if I can accomplish what I envision then the process will be automated. I’m always thinking about time. How can I get technology to do the work and free up my time?

That’s my ultimate goal. I think that is the same dream my dad has. Have the time to be able to do the things I enjoy. He loves us so much. I can tell just by the way he looks at me. He is so proud of me and he never has to say it. I feel it when he looks at me and his mind wanders off. Then he’ll tell me “I just remembered when you were just 6 years old…” or something along those lines. Maybe he is living out one of his dreams. The dream to raise great kids. That’s not a compliment to my sister or myself but it is a compliment to my parents. They were able to do so much for us that we started life off ahead of most. It’s precisely these reasons why I feel the need to continually grow. Spiritually, mentally, and yes, financially. I want the freedom that only money can buy and I want it while not paying for it with time. That’s my dream.

2000 Years Later

As I write this, I’m sitting on the plane headed back from Vancouver to Toronto.

I missed Niko and Eliz. My sister and mom landed in Toronto a few hours ago from Turkey. My pregnant sister. I’m so excited for my sister to bring my nephew into this world. Can’t wait to be an uncle.

I just finished watching the documentary Before The Flood. Right before watching the documentary I was reading an essay.

Seneca’s letter to his mom after he was exiled. He discusses how his mom should not feel sad for him because he has all that he needs. He then goes onto discuss how ‘wretched men’, as Seneca calls them, need extravagant things to be happy. Money, expensive robes, extravagant feasts.

One portion that really resonated with me is when he wrote, “Men cut down forests and kill animals so they can eat.” This was written by Seneca the Younger. It was written during the time he was alive. Seneca was alive 5 B.c. to 65 AD.

It’s 2000 years later. 2000!

So what does that mean? I was reading about Seneca and then I finished watching Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary. Nearly 2000 years after Seneca’s work was written.

If you haven’t seen the documentary it discusses climate change. How rapidly the worlds heat is rising. It discusses how we all have a part to play. How we can make choses to leave the world in a better place than we found it.

Now I think about my nephew. I think about my own kids that I hope to have one day. Are they going to snowboard when they’re older? What about my grandchildren, will they ever see snow?

That’s a very real question we need to ask ourselves. We continue to turn a blind eye. I tell some of my closest friends to watch documentaries about the effects of our choices on the planet. Simple things such as what we eat and I am ridiculed. Granted, we ridicule each other about everything but on this subject I wish we could all agree.

I don’t eat meat. I understand wholeheartedly that you need to be the change you want to see in the world. I can’t ask someone else to stop eating hamburgers if I eat it. I can’t be a hypocrite.

Beef agriculture is ruining our planet. It is the reason we cut down so many trees. It is bad for our planet. It is bad for us. I’ve never heard a doctor tell anyone that is feeling ill to eat more beef. Many sicknesses are caused by eating beef and we continue to do it. It’s bad for us. It’s bad for our planet.

Are we so stuck in our ways that we can’t make this simple change? I’ve been vegetarian now for 7-8 months. I have more energy than I’ve ever had. After dinner I don’t feel like going on the couch for the rest of the night. In fact I feel incredibly alert.

My nephew may never get a chance see a coral reef.

I was going to discuss my trip to Vancouver and how it went but after reading the quote Seneca wrote and watching the documentary it all seems so futile.

Climate change is the reason the world is falling apart. There are ways to fix it and we need to help by doing our part.

I can only do what I can control. It is the same for us all.

I can’t say I’m perfect but I am continually trying to get better. Eating more vegetables has helped me get better. How? More energy, clearer mind, healthier body, amongst other things.

Maybe this is what I needed to do to be able to have the courage to start an online store. Maybe I needed to do this so I had the energy to be able to read books without falling asleep after 10 minutes. I’ve been making many realizations about myself and about the world. Industries are ruining our planet. Industries are ruining our bodies, our minds.

I visit some establishments that offer soda for cheaper than water. How is that possible? This drink that has so much sugar that if you were to ingest the amount of sugar in it without anything else you would vomit uncontrollably for hours? Yet it’s cheaper than water?

That’s the world we live in. Not a lot of things make sense when you really start to think about it.

I want to leave this world in a better place than I found it. I want my kids to experience things. Be one with nature. If I learned one thing from Seneca it’s that life is limited. Time is fleeting. I don’t want to wait to do the things I want. I want to see the world. Before it’s ruined.

I’m a hopeful person. An optimist. However, I read that it doesn’t matter if you’re a pessimist and think there is no solution or you are an optimist and hope everything is going to be okay. Unless someone takes action then there is no difference.

So, I’ve been taking action lately. I’ve been going to the gym in the morning. Writing in a journal afterwards, just for 5 minutes. Reading before I have to start work. Meditating.  It’s a struggle everyday. Everyday you have to tell yourself you can do this. You can take action. Then it’s a struggle to actually do it. It is much easier to sit on the couch. Eat a burger. Watch sports all night. Then go to sleep at 12 and wake up at just in time to get to work.

I used to do this. I thought I was happy. “I work from home so I can sleep in until 8:45”. That’s great but what I was I doing with my time?

I wasn’t doing anything worth telling my kids about. Then I would be upset when I didn’t lose weight. I would be angry when I looked in the mirror or the scale. I would be frustrated with myself for not starting a business of my own. I would be annoyed that potential prospects weren’t taking my calls or signing on to Bazinga.

Was I really doing the work? Was I being smart with my time? Hindsight is 20/20. Simple answer is no. I was not doing the right things.

It’s great to realize this now. Age 25.

I’ve always told everyone that I’m an environmentalist. Now more than ever actually. Simply by not eating meat I am playing a part. I can do more and I will. I was mad to see a tax on gas at the beginning of this year but now I’m proud of the Canadian government once again. For another reason. They did it for our world. Carbon tax is needed. Just like tax on cigarettes.

I’ve wanted a Tesla ever since I saw the first model of the car. I’m not a car person whatsoever but I love technology. Elon Musk is a genius. If he can do it, why can’t I? That’s where my mind is with a lot of things nowadays.

First though, I need to finish my product packaging. One step at a time.

Time

“I’m writing this while 30,000 feet in the air.” Stole that from Kendrick Lamar.

That’s a great song.

I’m on my way to Vancouver. I’ll spend 3 days there. I’m on the ‘Red-Eye’. Woke up at 4:30 to make it to my plane for 7. I don’t feel that tired. It’s only 8:50 now and I’ve already finished one of the most important pieces of literature that I’ve ever read.

On The Shortness of Life by Seneca.

First off, how cool is it to have one name. Seneca. One name that has lasted hundreds of years. This may not be the first thing I read from Seneca because I took Philosophy 101 but this is certainly the one thing that I will revisit often. I’ll remember the first time I read this essay. I’ll remember where I was when I read it.

How incredible for a man, to be able to put into words, the way in which we waste time without any regard or regret. As if we will live forever.

I was just talking to the person next to me about going to Vancouver and he said “It’s good you get to go out to Vancouver.”

I replied, this is not the way I’d like to experience Vancouver. I’ll be in meetings. Back to back to back all week.

I told him I’ve been to Vancouver 3 times now and I still haven’t visiting Stanley Park. I’m not complaining here. Many people would feel very blessed to be in my shoes. A position to have work pay for your trip out to Vancouver is a dream for most. It certainly was for me.

I remember when my parents used to ask me what I wanted to do when I was about 14-15 and I would say be a business man that gets to travel often.

Then a few years ago my former supervisor told me “You think that’s what you want but trust me it’s not”. I didn’t trust him. I still thought, maybe it wasn’t for him but it is for me. I was 22 at the time. My relationship with Eliz wasn’t as strong as it is today.

Last year a similar conversation took place when I talked to Bazinga’s CEO who happened to be in Toronto and I was able to meet with him in the airport before his flight. Think about that for a moment. He was so busy on his trip that I only had a chance to see him right before his flight.

He told me the same thing “Trust me you don’t want to be on the road this much. I’d much rather be with my family”. He has has 3 kids. I saw in his face how much he missed them. Work has been taking up his time.

One of the first things he said to me, I remember this vividly. It was my first month at the job and he was visiting Toronto. I was shadowing him for the day as part of training. I had just finished university a month.

At that point I wanted to be a CEO at some point. I wanted to understand how he did it. We were getting coffee before our meeting. Weather was nice, it was a beautiful summer day and we sat on the patio of a coffee shop in downtown Toronto. He told me “CEO’s are employees.”

Now I look back and finally understand what he means. He has such an immense amount of pressure on him. Stakeholders have entrusted him with their money, employees are, in a way, entrusting him with their future, their lives. He has to take time away from his family. Miss important moments.

Is this what I wanted?

Yeah, it was. At that point it was. Now, not so much. I want to spend time with my family. My friends.

Last night we got together and watched the Super Bowl. What a great game but I barely remember a moment from the game. I remember my friend telling about a conversation he had with his dad. I remember the way they were playing with Niko. I remember the pizza man running away after hearing Niko’s bark. Then again when Niko walked out for a second.

Those are memories I’ll cherish. I can’t make this types of memories if I’m away at work.

It’s so great to work from home. I think I went through a stage where maybe I was mildly depressed because of working from home. I don’t want to use the term depressed lightly but at times that’s how I felt.

The company was going through a restructure and I didn’t know if I needed to keep doing what I’ve been doing or start looking for another job because my side of the business was being cut out. Sitting in front of the computer without a thing to do but listen to your own worry and anxiety can be disastrous.

I remember I kept logging into Facebook when I said I wouldn’t that day. I kept logging into Twitter and wasting time. Instagram was a time sucker. Unproductive. I didn’t know how to be productive.

I decided to get off social media for a while. It actually helped. Not as much as the company actually telling me what was important and what our goals were.

I’m in a better place now with work and hopefully it’s going to get even better after this trip.

I’m back on social media now and I have deleted so many ‘”Friends” off my Facebook. Unfollowed many on Instagram. I share things now and hope my friends and family see it and that’s enough for me. I look at Instagram and see my friends and family’s posts. I may message some of them about their picture. Let them know I’m thinking of them. It’s a much better way to do social media.

Time.

That’s what it came down to. I knew I was wasting away time by checking a Facebook page of someone I remember briefly from middle school. Watching videos he shared. Reading his posts. I knew I had outgrown him but for whatever reason, I still had him on Facebook. This is one example of the 730 people I unfriended. In 25 minutes one Sunday afternoon I went from 760 friends to around 30-40.

I Kon-Mari’ed my Facebook list. Wtf is Kon-Mari? Great question.

My mother in law to be handed me this small book about how organizing your closet and your things can help you become more productive. I finished it in a few days. Proceeded to donate 80% of my clothes, rid myself of paper, books I wasn’t going to read and other miscellaneous items. A few months later I realized I needed to do this with my contact list and on that wonderful Sunday afternoon sitting in front of the fireplace at my future in-laws house a few weeks ago, I rid myself of a lot ‘Friends’.

It comes back to time.

We waste it. Without even realizing it. As if we have an endless supply. We don’t. We are not immortal.

I no longer hope to be CEO of a billion dollar company. What use would I have for all that money if I’m constantly being taken away from family? What use would I have for all those objects I’d buy if I couldn’t’ have time for myself?

I don’t know if these are thoughts of a mad man but I would much rather be flying out to Vancouver right now with my family and friends to enjoy Stanley Park. To go snowboarding in Banff. To hike on one of the mountains.

Sounds a lot like I’m complaining, I know. I still feel blessed. I’ll get to see my boss and have a chat with him that I’ve been hoping to have. He is someone I respect immensely. For that I’m grateful.

As I mentioned before, I’m 25 but I realize life is short and it becomes shorter the more you waste it.

I’m trying not to waste time anymore. I will be more protective of it. I will spend more of it with people I love. People I enjoy. I hope they can make the time for me.

I was told to never turn down a coffee meeting because you never know where it can end up. I’ve listened to that advice and I have been pleasantly surprised before. However, I just can’t see myself wasting my time on every coffee invite or discussion. Learning to say no is powerful and I’m going to learn to say ‘No’ and ‘Hell Yes’ more.

Time can be a great friend or an enemy. Either way it always moves forward. I’m going to to preserve my time. I’m going to try to spend it on things I want to do, with people I want to be around. I don’t think it will be an easy task in this day and age but maybe I’m completely wrong. Maybe it’s easier than I think.