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About Connected Dots

A father’s goodness is higher than any mountain. A mother’s goodness is deeper than any sea.”
-Japanese Proverb

During his graduation speech at the University of Stanford in 2005, Steve Jobs said the following sentence:

“You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”

The context used then was about a calligraphy class Jobs took back in college. At the time, he could not see any advantage for it in his future professional life; however, ten years later, when designing the Macintosh computer (shortly known as Mac), Jobs used the exact same typography he had learned in college to create unique and diversified fonts, with the spacing and styles that we know today. The main lesson he got out of this story was that one cannot understand the importance of what they are doing until they see the long-term results.

In truth, this concept can be applied to almost any other domain in life; when we start to invest time and effort in something, we do not always get the full picture – the entire map of the journey that lies ahead of us. I guess this is what most people would use to define the concept of faith: it is about taking the first step even though you are unable to see the entire staircase.

I remember this picture I used to see on Facebook about a father teaching his son the importance of patience and investment. The picture would show the father and his son planting an apple seed in the ground. The father said: “Son, one day you will appreciate the truly important things in life.” It is safe to say that, at the time, the son had no idea what his father was talking about, since he did not have the full picture before him. However, in the second part of the picture, one can see an adult version of the son pushing a little girl on a swing. That swing is attached to the branch of a tree: the same tree the son had planted with his dad!

Coming from a business background and specializing in finance, investments are part of my everyday life. There different forms of investments, in both corporate and market finance, like bonds, stocks, derivatives and so on. Each type of investment has specific characteristics related to them, nevertheless they share one common trait: if you wish to get a reward out your investment, you have to be patient. That reward can take from a few days up to 10 to 20 years.

In a world where people want everything instantly, it is quite hard to picture such long time frames. This is why it is easier to use the following example to describe worthy investment: the time, effort, blood, sweat and tears that parents sacrifice while raising a child.

“Success is the pride we see in the eyes of the ones that we love.”
Bigflo & Oli

Given that kids are selfish, we can never fully understand everything that our parents do for us. The lessons they teach us, the things they tell us to do, the rules they implement in our lives and more. More often than not, we get into heavy conflicts with them over those things, especially when we do not understand the importance behind their concerns. The relationship between children and their parents can be assimilated to the one between players and a coach: during training sessions, players will often not understand the utility behind the instructions given them. We have all been there and have reached points where we got really angry with our parents because they would not let us do what we wanted to.

However, despite everything that is said and done to them, real parents will always love their children more with every passing day. Real parents will always believe in their children’s potential, refusing to give up on them.

At those specific moments of childhood, I was unable to understand why my parents were treating me in that particular way. Today, looking backwards and connecting the dots the same way Steve Jobs did before me, I finally understood the importance of it all and I am more thankful for it all.

Not all heroes wear capes or uniforms. If you disagree with this notion, then surely you have not met my parents.

“Behind every child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first.”
Matthew Jacobson

Here is a quick insight of the type of child I was.

I used to stutter a lot when I was a kid, unable to speak properly until I was around 3-4 years old.
I struggled with Arabic so much that I was going to have to repeat the 2nd grade.
I used to get upset very easily and lose it at the slightest of things.
I used to be terrified of going to scout camps because I could not bear the thought of being away from home.
I lost my brother when I was eleven years old.
I lost my best friend when I was seventeen. Many more followed down the years.

Now, I am not the type of person to boast about who I am, but I do know for sure that I am the son of two warriors. Two warriors who gave everything they had for me to get a proper education. Two warriors who worked day and night because they believed in me. They started an entire battle just for me. If that is not love, I do not know what is.

Even without those particular events, I think of all the times they stayed awake with me when I was sick or when I had a bad dream. All the times they cleaned after me. All the times they had to go out of their way so that I could get to practice or go out with my friends. I left out several events and things because I could go endlessly  about them.

Besides, they deserve nothing less than that.

Today, I have conquered the best business school in Lebanon, making it to  the Dean’s list.
Today, I have conquered the best school in political science in France.
Today, I have conquered one of the best business schools in France and in Europe.
Today, I am the assistant coach of a football team.
Today, I have written a book and entertained a blog for more than 2 years.
Today, I have travelled to 22 different countries, visiting 44 different cities.
And much more.
Today, I believe in myself because they have always believed in me. 
They still do.

I never could have imagined climbing peaks if it were not for everything that my parents taught me. It is only today that I am able to connect the dots. The first way for a child to thank their parents and pay them back for everything they did is by making them proud. Nothing beats seeing your parents proud of the person you have become.

Mum, Dad,
I am who I am today thanks to you.
It is too little in comparison to what you did for me, but all I can say right now is:
Thank you. I love you.

“Do not be afraid. It is my turn now to chase the monsters away.”
James Blunt


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