This is an intense book, despite its brevity, especially if you’re already thinking about existential issues. A Must Read for just about anyone who wants to become a better family or business leader or just get an incredible perspective on life after loss.
Hi, it’s Ahmed. And I am coming to you from the mountaintop right by Mary Jane Falls at Mount Charleston. When I started on this hike, I didn’t realize it would bring me to the top of Mount Charleston. But it has been an amazing journey and it has been an amazing hike. Not being a very physical person, this is specially challenging for me but this was also mind over matter type of thing for me. And I am accompanied up here with my beautiful wife and my good friend who’s at the camera and humoring me to record another book review of all things up here. So I had to think for a while to go okay. This is a very, very special moment. You know you’re at the top of the mountain. It means a lot of things, you know. A Muslim and the Prophet Muhammad received revelation from God at the top of a mountain. Moses spoke with God at the top of a mountain, got the 40 or the sorry, top 10 commandments, not 40, after 40 days and 40 nights. So mountains, there’s something really mythical and mystical about mountains and spirituality and just making it up the mountain is, to me, it’s a spiritual journey as well as a physical one. You know the beauty is just absolutely overwhelming. The majesty of these mountains here, they’re mind-boggling and to witness the waterfall after you get up, it’s just, you know, humbling. You feel so small next to these mighty and majestic mountains.
So, I want to review a very special book. It’s not going to be a business book but it is one of those books that has helped me tremendously. It is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I love Viktor Frankl. The man is simply amazing. You wouldn’t believe it, he’s a very positive guy and he went through the holocaust. He lost family members and he just barely survived the holocaust. And he describes how dehumanizing it was to be in the concentration camps, to have everything taken away from you, to, I mean, you could, you start to question everything. I can’t even imagine, you know, as I was reading the book, I was trying to imagine. There are no words that I can speak to the horrors of what the holocaust was like. And he talks about the mixed feelings he has about the people who, you know, want to save themselves and they turn to the enemy, they, you know, side with the Nazis. So along with all the misery, there’s and death and too sheer evil. There is also, you know, distrust, you know. There were people that you couldn’t trust and really it, he describes how it breaks everything down, you have nothing, you know. I’m so incredibly blessed to even be able to come up here, to have the ability to come up here. There are fires in California right now, it’s smoky but here it’s absolutely beautiful. So it’s nothing to be taken for granted.
So in Viktor Frankl’s book he describes what happens to you when you lose everything when you lose everything including the will to live. You know, death doesn’t seem, you know, death doesn’t seem that bad like everything is just so bad. And it’s there that he finds his philosophy. It’s there that he finds his core. And he realizes that even though he has lost control of everything, he remembers his wife, he remembers love. Because they can take away everything, they can take away his life, they can control every single aspect of his life but they don’t dominate his mind. They cannot control his mind. He is still free in his mind and if he gives that up, if he gives up focusing on love, he loses everything. And that’s how he kept control in a time when, you know, it’s you would have given up, I don’t, I can’t even imagine. I’m not even going to make a comparison. I am fluffy even by normal standards and I don’t hold a candle to Viktor Frankl but to really think that type of a negative experience helped him see the very best in humanity, the very best in himself, and to see that life is worth living, every moment is a gift and so much of that is your choice. So even though the Nazis were trying to make his life miserable, he chose not to be. He chose to not give in. I mean, what kind of incredible power is that? You have to look at the world in a whole different way. You have to re-examine everything, you have to think about your life, think about your death and come to terms with it. Come to terms with your mortality and the mortality and loss of everything around you. And there is a sense of freedom in that. Because at that moment, it pushes you to think, to decide, who are you. If you have, don’t have any control, what free will do you have? And that’s where he finds meaning. And it’s absolutely incredible. I personally am a religious person. I don’t know of Viktor Frankl’s leanings one way or another is certainly very spiritual, certainly very soft and love, you know, unfortunately, the English language is not expressive enough. Because we have only one word for love, it’s what you feel for your children, it’s what you feel for you wife, it what’s you feel for ice cream, for crying out loud, you know. I think Arabic has a nice word called “Rahma” which is, which is love, which translates to, “motherly love” or which our unconditional love. And at the end of the day, that’s, that’s the beauty. That’s what you see everywhere around you is the sense of love that you can either gravitate to, you can either choose to see that beauty, or you can see the devastation and you can see that, “oh, this, you know, hike was just ridiculous. It was really hard.”, and you know chose to focus on that or you could choose to focus on the beauty and the moment.
So for me, that book it’s not a particularly long book. But Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is probably one of the most instrumental books in shaping my cognitive frame and how I look at the world. It’s helped me as an entrepreneur, it’s helped me as a dad, it’s helped as a person. And as I grow, you know, as I climb mountains metaphorically and physically, I think about the search for meaning and the beauty in every moment that’s there. So I’m incredibly thankful, I’m thankful to you for watching and hearing me rant. I’m thankful for my friends, for all, for family. And I am, I feel truly blessed at this moment, and, I feel blessed always actually to have experienced every single thing I’ve experienced, the good and the bad. Because just like Viktor Frankl, I feel like some of the hardest moments in my life shaped me. And had those moments not happened, I probably wouldn’t have thought about life, I wouldn’t have thought about death, and I wouldn’t have thought about meaning.
So, if you’re going through a tough time in your life or if you just want to, you know, get a glance at what this great man experience and how he came to his epiphany, I would highly recommend reading Viktor Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning. Thank you for watching.