An extraction of life lessons from the life story of Chris Gardner featuring Will Smith and Jaden Smith.
The pursuit of happiness is one of my all time favorite movies. It was not only an entertaining movie thanks to the very good performance by Will Smith and his son who was still very young at the time, Jaden Smith. There are many life lessons to learn from the movie and the book with the same title the pursuit of happiness some of which I have listed below.
1. Real education starts outside the classroom
Education is a beautiful thing, it has the ability to open one’s imagination and reward with new opportunities and ideas. During the pursuit of happiness/ happyness movie Chris Gardner said that when he was still in high school every time he got an A in his grades he was so happy and it made him imagine all the things he could become and how they would become a reality but none of them did. Life seldom turns out the way we planned.
Book knowledge or an education is not what brings a person success in life or what brings happiness. Getting good grades is certainly admirable and should not be discounted but most often lessons learned in the classroom are very limited and do not thoroughly equip you for life’s situations. Life as well seldom turns out the way we plan and most often than not it is not only book knowledge and an education but street knowledge that brings people opportunity and success. I bet Chris never took classes on how to raise a child with no money or how to live on the street. So it is important to always remember, get the education but get street smart as well.
2. Opportunity usually comes along at the wrong time
Most times situations in life will not be 100% perfect. As the author of rich dad poor dad says if you wait for all the traffic lights on your journey to go green before you start the journey you might end up waiting a while. When I was 18 years old I had a plan to finish my degree by 22, get a job, buy a house and be sleeping in a different city every night (I was going to be a pilot by then). Boy was I in for a surprise! I am 25 and I don’t even have a job.
For Chris the opportunity to become a broker came at a less than desirable if not an inconvenient time, his wife was about to leave him, he was broke and the opportunity to better himself which wasn’t guaranteed at the end of the internship wasn’t even close to ideal but if he hadn’t taken the opportunity he would not have ended up a very wealthy and influential man, that less than ideal opportunity was his chance, his open door, imagine if he had passed it up because it wasn’t ideal.
3. Determination will get you far
Chris Gardner in the pursuit of happiness was a man with his back against the wall. He was between a rock and a hard place but his determination and drive enabled him to pull through. When he was homeless he still believed that one day things will go his way, he didn’t give up but each day he got up and went to the office and worked very hard even though he was not getting paid.
4. Believe in yourself even if no one else does
Chris had lost everything, was broke and could hardly sell his bone density scanners. Thinking that he was not serious and was a dreamer the wife left but he chased his dreams anyway even when it seemed that his dream chasing would get him nowhere. He also motivated his son by saying that “don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something, even me.” Sometimes when people who have themselves failed at something they will discourage you but holding on to your dreams will pay off in the end. The pursuit of happiness was an excellent movie and one that will reverberate life lessons for years to come.
5. Networking is important
Most jobs and opportunities are not advertised. I remember my adviser telling me to go for networking events because most of the times someone knows someone who knows someone who is hiring or who is giving out contracts. The list of clients that Chris was given at work hardly got him any leads but it was rather the business cards he got when he went to a football game with a potential client that were the real money maker.