The much awaited presentation of Chris Gardner, whose life story inspired the Hollywood movie The Pursuit of Happyness, proved to be as inspirational and moving as it was anticipated. Closing World Leadership Forum 2013, Gardner spoke on hope, perseverance, and finding your passion. In the following we’ll recap some of his thoughts, as well as share his six ingredients to put into the blender of life.
Gardner began his presentation talking about a concept that many had probably never heard of: spiritual genetics. According to Gardner, who you become doesn’t depend on genetics or biology or even where you are from; each of us chooses who we will become as a man or a woman. “You can do or be anything that you want to do or be,” Gardner assured.
If there ever were someone to prove this true, it would be him. Growing up with an alcoholic step father who made a point to remind him on a regular basis he wasn’t his real dad (sometimes he would even use the threat of a shotgun to emphasize this point), at the age of 28 Gardner was a homeless, single father who finally won a position at Dean Witter Reynold’s as a stock broker. According to Gardner, his spiritual genetics had been passed down to him by his mom, one of the few positive aspects in his young life that kept a light of hope within him through the toughest of situations. He cites his mother as being the driving force behind his success later in life.
Through an emotional recount of his life, the people he has met since he pulled himself out of homelessness, and both his achievements and failures, Gardner recounted the six ingredients he put into his life’s blender:
“Sometimes the most important promises are the ones you make to yourself", Gardner assured. He made a promise to himself at the age of five that if he were ever to have children he would show them the love of a father that he never had the chance to experience. Sleeping in a bathroom stall at the age of 28, fighting to gain a position at a stock brokerage, he saw that he was staying true to that promise.
Gardner decided that he was going to become world class at whatever he did in life.
You just have to find your button, the one thing that turns you on.”
From the first time he entered into a Wall Street trading room and saw the chaos, noise, and emotion, he knew that he had found his place.
Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do before you do what you want to do.”
Gardner summed up the constant battle between pragmatism and passion. Both are essential ingredients to put in the blender, but you have to balance the two.
In the harshest of moments throughout his life, Gardner asked himself “How did I get here?” The answer was even more brutal: “I drove here”. However, knowing that he had something to do with the circumstances and conditions of his life empowered him to realize that if he drove in, he could drive out.
“Clear concise, compelling consistent and committed,” are the characteristics of a good plan, according to Gardner. Although it is important to be passionate, he would have never gotten where he did in life if he didn’t have an idea of where he wanted to go.
Hope is a beautiful thing, but it is better to have hope and a plan."
Gardner advised the audience to understand and value what’s really important, the big questions, what is not negotiable rather than getting wrapped up in the small stuff.
You can make money, you can lose money, but you can’t make time; once it’s gone it’s gone.”
Who was your favorite speaker at this year’s World Leadership Forum Mexico?