The life of Chris Gardner is one made for the big screen. From single father without resources, living on the streets of San Francisco with his small son, he achieved through force and perseverance to get around obstacles and found a successful company. If this story doesn’t sound familiar, maybe it will if you have in mind the movie The Pursuit of Happyness that was based on the his inspirational and true story.
Author of the biography The Pursuit of Happyness and Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, Chris Gardner has shared through these publications his incredible life story and the philosophies and steps to create a successful life.
Here are 10 success lessons from Chris Gardner – “From Homeless To Millionaire” for entrepreneurs,
1. Assess yourself
Your skills may not be anything out of the ordinary, but you can do miraculous things with what you’ve got. Maybe it’s your parenting skills, or your compassion. It may be your curiosity, your imagination or unique style of fashion. Even if it seems to be no big deal, the lesson here is we all have unique abilities and talents.
It is important to not compare yourself with others with the intention of emulating them. One may be good at one thing while you’re great with another. Focus on that. We all have a role to play. For example, Steve Wozniak was the tech designer, while Steve Jobs was a sales genius. We know how that turned out for Apple.
2. Look to someone you admire
If you’re having a hard time recognising your gifts, look to someone else you know who’s been resourceful. You may be surprised by how your own strengths rise to the surface by watching someone else. It could someone closest to you or someone you admire from afar.
One thing you may find under their deep strength and confidence is that they have defined their own success.
3. Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Keep in mind those things that allowed you to attain earlier goals. Believe in yourself and in the infinite abundance of resources already at your disposal.
It could be a skill you have, or the current technology in your hands – eg the smart phone. YouTubing has become a legitimate career choice among the young. So too as a strategy for companies. It doesn’t require much resources but the possibilities are endless. Here’s some insight into this topic.
4. Be passionate, calm and constantly learn
Here are three things Chris Gardner would tell any business owner or entrepreneur. The first lesson is that you have to be passionate about what you are doing. If you aren’t passionate, you’re compromising yourself every day. Secondly, you have to remain steady, calm and focused on your dream. You’re going to be faced with many obstacles, but you have to stay the course. Baby steps count, too, as long as you’re moving forward. Finally, you have to be willing to constantly learn and adapt. You’re never too told to do something new.
5. Get excited about something
You have to love what you do. You have to have such a strong passion for it that you’ll break through any barrier, jump over any hurdle to see your vision through. Gardner is the first to admit that in the early days of his career, his major motivating force for finding work was money. He needed to pay the rent, he needed to be able to afford food and clothing, and he needed to look after not only himself, but also his young son.
Nevertheless, it was only by choosing to focus on a career that truly got him excited, that Gardner was able to rise to the top of his field. Gardner had finally found something that he could get excited about and he wasn’t about to let his chance of happiness pass him by.
6. Be the best you can be
Gardner attributes his rise to the top to his mother and her “spiritual genetics”, which encouraged Gardner to dream big dreams for himself and strive to become the best. Gardner’s mother was a natural born teacher. She loved doing it and she did it well. But, after being abandoned by her husband, she found herself in the position of having to care for 12 children all on her own. She sacrificed her dream of teaching to take numerous part-time jobs that could better support the family.
However, she pushed Gardner to be the best at everything he did. This commitment to be the best was something he never forgot and continues to be the best at everything he can be.
7. Remember your roots
As far as Gardner has come and as much money as he has made, what has perhaps most distinguished him professionally has been his contribution he has made back into communities. Gardner has kept his promise and has striven hard to remain available and accessible.
According to Gardner, “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. 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 into the business. I can’t think of a better way to honor my mom and lift her up than helping educators. The biggest part of her soul was to teach.”
8. Protect your dream
During the hard-times, Chris could have quit and blamed it on circumstance, situation, other people, his wife, the colour of his skin. What matters is that he DIDN’T. If you want something it comes to doing what it takes to get it.
9. Be agile
Chris Gardner faced many challenges when starting out. But because he was agile, he could handle them all. Gardner mentions “I started my business in my house with $10,000. I did not know you couldn’t do it, so I did it. I was the head of marketing, the head of sales, the head of trading, the chief compliance officer and I had to clean the place up at the end of the day.”
As an entrepreneur, we’re forced to wear multiple hats in order to succeed.
10. Have a plan
If you’re starting a business, hope isn’t enough. You need a plan that’s clear, concise, compelling and consistent. On top of that, you need to be committed to what you’re doing, he says.