Feel Like Giving Up? Learn From Hassan

I just returned from a two week adventure to Istanbul and Egypt.  My experience was eye-opening.  I returned overwhelmed with the privilege it is to be an American citizen.  I’ve forgotten how blessed I truly am. If you live in the U.S., consider yourself fortunate.  America truly is the land of opportunity.  While I was in Istanbul, I met an extraordinary individual named Hassan.


IMG_0649Hassan is originally from Iraq.  He was shot in the leg while trying to escape into Turkey.  Hassan lives in Istanbul and works as an assistant to an Egyptian retailer who buys inventory there.  Istanbul is the 5th largest city in the world.  Hassan navigates his way through the busy streets; searching for opportunities, buying inventory, shipping packages and solving problems.  He’s taught himself to speak the very difficult Turkish language while earning his status as “the go to guy” if you want to get things done in Istanbul.

The streets of Istanbul

The streets of Istanbul


There’s an important point to mention, Hassan is almost completely blind!  A degenerative disease has slowly robbed him of the ability to see.  He’s had to memorize the streets, he counts his steps, he’s sharpened his ability to hear, he has audio applications on his phone to help him stay connected and he’s developed trusted friendships to help him out.

Can you see the smile on his face?  He is always smiling.  His positive attitude blew me away.  Hassan is making the best of an extremely difficult situation.  It made me think about my own life and the challenges I face.  I often feel like giving up when my computer doesn’t work or when I don’t land a client I was hoping for.  If suddenly, I was faced with blindness; I can’t image what I would do.

It doesn’t take much for discouragement to set in.  One thing goes wrong and I find myself searching for an easy way out or a quick fix, anything to make me feel better, safer, more secure.

What if you didn’t give in to the urge to give up? How would your life be different?

Consider Hassan’s situation.  As his vision worsened, he could have made arrangements to live with a family member who could care for him.  He could have played it safe, never leaving his apartment without someone to lead him.  It sounds reasonable enough.  Most would have pity on someone like Hassan.  After all, he’s a victim of a terrible condition that dramatically affects his everyday life.

He chose to keep living, to come up with new solutions and develop ways to do more instead of less.


View from the Asian side of Istanbul

Do you know what makes you want to give up?  Is it fear, the need for security, the longing for acceptance, the lack of confidence or the pursuit of comfort?  You are guaranteed to face circumstances that are difficult. No one escapes adversity in life.  You might as well pursue your dream in the process.  Hold your dream out in front of you and decide that no matter what, I will find a way. If your dream is worthwhile, there will certainly be pain and difficulty along the way.  Do it anyway.




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8 thoughts on “Feel Like Giving Up? Learn From Hassan

  1. Very poignant! Just when I start to complain about my lot I try to consider the plight of others. There are always others that are so much worse off and yet more resilient. I believe if we do retreat it is out of fear. Before we can face our fears we must first come to know them. Only then do we have any hope of overcoming them. Just like Hassan.

    • Great point Clark! I spent so many years in the grip of fear and it wasn’t until I understood what I was afraid of that I started to overcome it. When I wrote my fears down and expressed them out loud, they sounded ridiculous.

  2. Great story Michael. Thanks for sharing and thanks for reminding me how blessed I am. Tell Hassan thanks for not giving up and for encouraging me and many others to not give up as well.