4 Powerful Lessons from Chris Gardner and His “Pursuit of Happyness”

I recently had the unbelievable pleasure to meet Chris Gardner at a business leadership summit and wanted to pass along a few of the key items I took away from him.  Chris is famous for being the man behind the inspirational true story “The Pursuit of Happyness” and offers so many valuable lessons based on his unique perspective throughout life.  You must have a pretty special story for Will Smith to play you in the movie version of your life!  Here are a few of my key takeaways from Chris:

  • He shared his definition of the American Dream which is that “you can be or do anything you want” in this wonderful country of ours.  He emphasized that you can BE or DO anything but are not entitled to it – too often people these days believe they are entitled to way too much without the drive to make things happen for themselves.
  • He said “I made the decision as a 5 year old boy that my kid would know who I was” and obviously persevered through incredible challenges to make sure that his vision at a young age became a reality as an adult.  When you have clarity on what you want to accomplish it makes life easier.
  • So often now we hear how everyone expects to immediately “do what they are passionate about” but Chris offered a great perspective – he said “you need to do what you have to do before you can do what you want to do” and explained sometimes you need to be “practical” before “passion” can come into play.  I think it is important to realize oftentimes in life we must first accomplish practical objectives before we can reach the fun parts.
  • He shared one of the key lines from his life that was featured as a prominent part of the movie – he says “don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something”.  I’ve experienced it first hand in life and I’m sure many of you have as well; people are eager to tell you why you can’t do something rather than encouraging the hell out of you to go for it.

I’m thrilled to pass along some of the great things I learned from Chris and hope they were helpful!

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