Last Friday night, I witnessed the birth of our TEDx project come into full bloom. It started out as a small idea, but after months of obstacles and planning, the event was a huge success. This weekend while I was reflecting on the project, my mind drifted to the story of Chris Gardner in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness. It’s a beautiful film filled with wisdom and inspiration. Even better than that, it’s a story of fighting for your dreams, and for me personally, that is the best kind of story.
In The Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith portrays Chris Gardner, a man whose wife has just left him and he is now a single father, struggling to escape the grasp of poverty. Unable to sell the bone scanners he poured his life savings into, Chris finds himself sleeping in bathrooms with his young son. However, after one year, he becomes a successful stock broker in one of the world’s largest firms.
The tale of Chris Gardner is so empowering and inspiring because it is one of greatest types of stories: the success story of an underdog. It is a great example of the concept that if you work hard and long enough, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
“Do something that you love. Whatever you’re going to do is going to be tough. Find something that gets you so excited that the sun can’t come up early enough in the morning because you want to go do your thing”
Gardner didn’t let any obstacle, no matter how big, stop him from achieving his goal of providing for his son. He knew how hard it would be to find something he could do, but he never gave up. He strived to reach his dream with every inch of his body because he knew that if you aren’t pursuing happyness, then you just aren’t living at all.
Pick your goal and keep to it. If you reach it, than your dream wasn’t big enough. Keep the dream alive and keep your eye on the prize. It’s not about the challenges and the failures, but how they help make you stronger in your pursuit.
“Ready or not. Tell yourself to jump”
Gardner is forced to find a shelter for him and his son to sleep in while at the same time, maintaining the visage at work that he is a well off candidate for a new job position. At one point in the movie, he gives his last 5 dollars to a coworker for cab fare in order to sustain his illusion. Every night he must run from work to find a place at the shelter so that he and his son can have a place to stay for the night, which puts him at a serious disadvantage compared to the other job candidates. Due to his limited time at work, he is forced to create a more efficient call system, which included going against business protocols at one point.
Even while sleeping with his son on the restroom floor in a train station, Gardner had to show that he was just as much a successful employee as his rich competitors. He shows us that perception is the key, and that how you let people see you is a major part of the journey to success.
“You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”
To me, this is the most inspirational quote of the whole movie. When Gardner says this to his son it speaks volumes about his character. He tells his son that no matter what, don’t let someone tell you that you can’t do something, and if he does tell you, prove him wrong.
In the movie, Gardner shows up to his job interview in sweatpants and a tank top, mostly because they are the only clothes he owns. However, his clothing dilemma doesn’t stop him from getting the position. He rises to the occasion and presents himself with so much passion and determination that his employers were able to look past his beaten appearance.
In conclusion, The Pursuit of Happyness is the greatest story of success ever told in the history of mankind. If you haven’t watched it yet, you should feel like a part of your life is missing, because truth be told, it probably is.