Jason was our host in Kerry for two nights. His is an inspiring story of perseverance. Jason is the product of loving parents who instilled love and wisdom on their children from a young age. After losing his father when Jason was only 10, his mother went on to raise him and his sisters on her own, teaching them firsthand the value of a strong work ethic. I’m sure his father would be proud of the man Jason went on to become.
The thing that drives me is I’d like to know enough in today’s society to contribute to a better tomorrow. But there seems to be such an overwhelming amount of information that it’s hard to know where to start.
So I started with Science and Pharmacy, and very quickly I understood that the future is going to be written in software. Software is going to do everything. I said I’d better figure out what the principles behind software are all about. I think if I pursue Science and I understand software, I’ll be able to at least have input into the future of tomorrow that we’re all going to have. That for me, is enough to drive me forward.
But I think there’s a tricky thing that happens in your life, and it generally happens in your mid-20’s. Your learning often stops because you forfeit a huge amount of your time to earn money to get a place to live. That, to me, is like a Maths problem. You have to devote as much time to studying money and finance as you do to studying the thing you’re passionate about.
There’s lots of little problems going on in your life. Even though money isn’t something to be motivated about, if you don’t respect it, you’re going to be a slave to a system of working, and you won’t be given the time to learn and contribute more.
You can only acknowledge what your weaknesses are by chatting to people. When I chat with somebody, I see what their experiences are, pick their brain, see what they know, and I love walking away thinking to myself, “Oh my God, this person knows so much more than I do.” Nothing will give me more hunger and drive to go and learn something than if I feel inferior.
If I go into a conversation where I feel I know vastly more than someone, that’s not good for me. It doesn’t spur me on to know more. But if I meet people regularly who know much more than I do, I love those experiences even though they make me feel small. They’re the ones where you grow and better yourself.
My father passed away when I was ten, so my mum worked really long hours at their petrol station. When my father was alive, they were open 14 or 15 hours a day. My father had a second job as well, and so when he passed away, there was a lot of financial strain. There were a lot of tough years there. As a kid you don’t understand what’s going on, but you very much absorb the atmosphere. I think that’s enough for me to know that you’ve got to respect these systems, you’ve got to improve yourself.
There are so many nations across the planets, so many smart kids working very hard. You should never compare yourself to the people you grew up with because the chances of your inner circles of friends being a person who is going to get into the top 1% of people who knows stuff is highly unlikely. Your competition is in China, Russia, Brazil, Canada. These kids are all over the place. Often times people believe that if they know more than the people around them, that they are doing very well, but I’ve never felt that to be the way. I’ve always felt that even if I know more than the people around me, I know vastly less than the people in Bangladesh because their hunger is vastly more than mine.
On Father’s Death:
Kids have a way of dealing with things. Sometimes it’s easier to do things as a kid than as an adult. As an adult, you process things more. My mum would have always said, “You just need to get on with it.”
The other thing I was missing was that people often have their father to show them how to do things–how to build a frame for a shed and this kind of stuff–but I never had that. When I had to figure something out, I could ask my mom–she was great at so many things, but she was never good at, say, Math or construction. So If I had to figure that out, there was no two ways about it–you just have to go ask somebody or go look on the Internet.
From a young age, I didn’t even think about what I was doing, but I was constantly looking and teaching myself things. Even now, you build software, and people ask, “How did you learn that?” I say, “Look, you just look on YouTube and go to the smarter people, and they’ll just show you how to do it.” It’s all there for free.
I think a bit of hardship when you’re younger, even though it’s tough for kids, it ultimately can be the making of people later in life.
On Mental Health:
When I was younger, and even when I was in pharmacy, I was always afraid of failure. I worked hard and always got good grades, worked on the side as well, but when I was studying pharmacy, I was always afraid to fail. I thought the world would collapse.
But having worked in pharmacy has given me daily insight into the problems people have. I used to think that if you go through a bout of mental illness, Depression, or Anxiety, that it was an abnormal thing. Now I understand that it’s actually normal. Most people through their lives will have a few episodes of this, whether they admit it or not.
So if I go through a period where I’m feeling particularly down, or I’m lacking motivation, I don’t fret. I just think, “Look, you just ride the storm, come out the other end, and try to do things you enjoy during that period.” You’ll generally come back to the track you were at in the first place. So yeah, I think I just got comfortable with it as something you manage and accept, rather than something you try to stop.
Unless you have a family member affected by one of these things, most eople could go through their lives without witnessing it. I’ve been very fortunate in that I see all kinds of people struggling with these things everyday–things like dressing yourself. You take for granted that you can get up, put on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, and go do what you want to do. Some people quite literally can’t leave their bed.
And is it hard seeing that every day?
It is. It is hard. It’s hard as well when you see people in the latter stages of their lives, in palliative care. That’s quite difficult. You know from the medicine people are on if the prognosis isn’t good. They’re only managing their time that’s left. That’s quite tough, but you understand that you’re there to help. You try to help the family as much as you can. You know that the medical community isn’t advanced enough to fix this problem yet, but you give a little bit of solace or comfort to those around them to try and make it a little bit easier. That’s generally what I try to do.
Has it ever become too overwhelming?
No, not yet. It’s something that maybe should, but again, my mum used to always say to me that when she was young, she grew up in a very poor farm in the west of Ireland. Her parents had animals and grew their own crops, but she remembers a time when a calf would’ve passed away, and it would’ve been like a member of the family had died, because they knew that this was enormous. That calf could’ve paid for two of the kids–fed them and everything. So there was a period of mourning, and then it was just like, that’s it; the calf is gone. We need to get on with things now. It’s a little bit of that I think of whenever I end up in a situation where somebody is passing away and it’s a very sad time. Ultimately, it’s a natural progression. People pass and new people come through. It’s a thing not to fight, just to accept it. Just be compassionate when people are going through it.