March 5, 2007

The true 'happyness' of Chris Gardner

I have just watched 'The Pusuit of Happyness' over the weekend and I must say that it's one of the most inspiring and touching movies I've seen in a while. We all take what we have for granted....but watching the movie makes you realise that there are so many unfortunate people out there who are jobless and homeless. And with determination, faith and ambition one man breaks free from his chains to become successful.

The movie is based on the true story of Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman whose wife left him to take care of his son alone. In the face of this difficult life, Chris has the desperate inspiration to try for a stockbroker internship. Together, father and son struggle through homelessness, jail time, tax seizure and the overall punishing despair in a quest that would make Gardner a respected millionaire.

I thought rather than going at lengths about the movie (which eventually all of you will see), I will share some quotes from the real-life Chris Gardner instead.
I asked the guy two questions. One was, ‘What do you do?’ The second was, ‘How do you do that?’

I was homeless, but I wasn't hopeless. I knew a better day was coming.

One of the things young people always ask me about is what is the secret to success. The secret is there is no secret. It’s the basics. Blocking and tackling.

When I look back at the journey from homelessness to prosperity, I hold one thing dearer than all else – my commitment to my son. Doing a movie with the top movie star portraying me, doing a book with an editor who's last book won the Pulitzer Prize – all that stuff is great, but the most important thing that I will have ever done in my life was break the cycle of men who were not there for their children.

As busy as I am wherever I am, I try to get out and walk the streets, to remember how far I’ve come and appreciate every baby step of the way.

I went to some very successful business people when I was trying to open the doors of my company, and none of them would give me the time of day. I made a promise to myself and to God. I said, 'God, if you ever let me get to a certain level, I am not going to be like that.'

The coolest thing in the world is walking up the street in Chicago, New York or San Francisco and having someone say 'Hey, you might not remember me, but thank you for helping me get in the business'. That was 12 or 14 years ago. These kids have graduated from college and gone to law school or gotten their MBAs and are running departments in some of the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street.

You know how mountains get moved? Everyone who can move a couple, move a couple. Those who can move rocks, move rocks. Those who can move boulders, move boulders. That’s how mountains get moved. If every one of us did everything we could, I believe we would be in a different world.

You have to be committed, and you have to find something that you are passionate about. And forget about money. I’ve learned that money is the least significant aspect of wealth.

No matter how much money is involved or no matter how easy it is for you to do, if you’re not happy, you are nothing more than a slave to your talent and money. Do something that makes you happy and makes you feel good about yourself. Do something that makes you feel your work is significant and meaningful. If you just want to make money, that’s a whole different trip. I can’t help you with that.

Living with a baby tied on my back, trying to work, he recalls. It can be done, but you have to make it happen. And no matter what, you have to cling to it like it’s life itself, if that’s what you really want to do.

There's a choice: you eat or you stay in a hotel. We chose to eat. And we stayed in a subway station. We rode the trains. We slept in bathrooms.

I wanted to be world class at it or world class at something. At 18, Miles Davis was in New York playing with Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. At the same age, I was playing with some cats named Pookie and Ray Ray. It wasn’t going to happen. But I made a commitment to be world class at something.

We all understand genetics. You get your eyes from your dad, your mom’s nose, there’s nothing you can do about that. But your spiritual genetics you can choose, pick, embrace and commit to. That’s what I did.

Though my mom had too many of her own dreams denied, deferred and destroyed, she instilled in me that I could have dreams. And not just have dreams but had a responsibility to make them reality. My mom taught me from a very early age that I could do anything I wanted to do.

We were homeless, we were not hopeless. There’s a world of difference. A lot of folks don’t realize it, but it’s estimated that 12 percent of all of the homeless people in this country have jobs and go to work every day.

Baby steps count, as long as you are going forward. You add them all up, and one day you look back and you’ll be surprised at where you might get to.


Paddy Tan - said...

I be looking forward to catch this movie.

Shirley said...

I just saw this movie last night with my son. I was a single mother; so to some degree I can relate to Chris and his plight as a single father. It brought tears to my eyes because it brought back some of my own memories. "Remember The Best, Forget The Rest."

I was very touched by Chris's story. He is a very handsome, compassionate man. I thank You, Chris for telling your story.

God Bless You Always,
Shirley Green
Sioux City, IA 51104

I hope someday to meet you....