Chris Gardner's core principles for financial, emotional and spiritual success:
- "Baby Steps Count Too, As Long As You Go Forward"
One of the more frequent questions I hear from women - who are taking care of everyone except for themselves - is how to reclaim dreams and passions when feeling overwhelmed or tapped out. The first step is to make you a priority, that's why there's a Y in happyness because it stands for YOU. Don't ask for overnight changes or magic wand approaches. Rather remember that "Baby Steps Count Too, As Long As You Go Forward." What can keep you on track is remembering your resource of PURPOSE, no matter what your goal. At some time in the past you learned the power of purpose and how it kept you going even with baby steps. You can consider that one of your TRANSFERABLE SKILLS and use it now.
- "No Test, No Testimony"
Many of the lessons about resourcefulness were taught to me by mother and by the women in my life. As for finding the resource of COURAGE in fearful times, in the lesson of "NO TEST NO TESTIMONY," I remember being homeless as a single father with a toddler son, and going to work everyday to get ahead in the field of his choice. Whenever I wondered whether I could make it another day, running from pillar to post, I'd find courage from the example of others who were dealing with as much or more than I was. At the grocery stores or on the street, I'd be overwhelmed by having to struggle with a growing two-year-old, my briefcase, laundry, a bag of groceries, and wondering how I was going to make it. Then I'd see a woman with a brief-case sized purse, laundry, a bag of groceries, and two babies! That's courage. All I could say to myself was - if she can do it, so can I. Anyone who has had the rug pulled out from underneath them has the opportunity to learn how your toughest tests can teach you about your own gifts and strengths to turn the impossible into the possible.
- "The Law of Hard Work Is No Secret"
In these economic tough times, often with both spouses working, and when many are seeking employment (not necessarily by choice ) and others are returning to the workforce after having taken time off to raise children, I hear lots of questions about whether I had any secrets for landing that dream job, for launching my own business, or for getting ahead in a very crowded marketplace. As someone who has hit the pavement in hard times and now as an entrepreneur and employer, for that the lesson is "THE LAW OF HARD WORK IS NO SECRET." It all comes down to the most important resource that is at everyone's disposal: "INITIATIVE." In my own hiring experiences, I've found that those with the most impressive academic or professional pedigrees don't always show the same initiative as do, say, mothers who have run households, raised kids, held expenses to a tight budget and haven't waited to be told to get things done. When approaching job interviews or seeking to improve your standing, you should take the initiative to do the legwork and homework to ask questions and don't be shy about offering to go the extra mile. That kind of initiative is an annuity that will come back to you many times over. Initiative needs to be the first tool out of the toolbox. And if it isn't, the box might not be opened at all! By definition, entrepreneurs use initiative to launch operations large and small. I have examples like a mom who had to go to work to support her family when her husband fell ill. Using initiative and transferrable skills, she decided that since she had been chauffeuring her kids everywhere for years, she should open up a limo company catering to children flying as unaccompanied minors. Today she has a booming business and several employees. Her secret? The law of hard work!
- "Learn the Ropes First, Then Conquer Rome"
I talk about the resource of passion as the top attribute most named by human resource experts as to what employers are looking for. Whatever your goals, don't ever apologize for passion but don't try to fake the funk - because it's all about being yourself. What tells someone else that you've got passion? Folks know when you've got it or not. It comes from who you are, can't be bought, sold, taught, or acquired. It's like the color of your eyes. So, besides initiative and passion, what other marketable resources are valuable commodities in the workplace and elsewhere? I always look for CHARACTER and DISCIPLINE. As impressive as it is when I meet someone who tells me about their abilities and accomplishments, what I want to know is how hard they're willing to work and how passionately they're willing to learn how to become world class at whatever it is they want to do. The values of character and discipline were revealed to me in a life lesson I call, "LEARN THE ROPES FIRST, THEN CONQUER ROME." The good news is that in this time of rebuilding, there has been a return to the basic values of character and discipline as keys to success in the workplace as well as in life - the classic means for achieving the American dream. For anyone who seeks to become world-class in their pursuit of happyness, it's just as important to become a world class person, parent, mentor, friend, and citizen, he says - all of which come through the conscious choices to learn those ropes.
- "Seek the Furthest Star"
For those who are longing to reconnect to their dreams or who have downsized their goals and their belief that they'll get to where they want to go, I ask people to dig down to discover what their fears are of pursuing their highest aspirations. If you're not so excited about whatever it is that you do with your life every day, so much so that you can't wait for the sun to come up so that you can do it, it's time to ask yourself why not. Rather than play it safe with goals that are practical or what makes others happy, I advocate the opposite with: "SEEK THE FURTHEST STAR." And for anyone willing to dare, dream, and do, the most important obstacle to confront is the fear of taking a risk.
- "Don't Postpone Joy"
One of the most important questions I like to raise is by asking them how to define happyness in a concrete way. So often we get caught up in the pursuit and forget to stop and smell the roses - or those facets of everyday life that make it all worthwhile. Without the resource of APPRECIATION, we end up in that fast lane rat race and can't even savor the fruits of our labor. How to develop appreciation? Simple, "DON'T POSTPONE JOY." I offer suggestions for how to do that by reminding yourself what joy means to you and to those you love.
The owner and CEO of Gardner Rich LLC, Christopher Gardner is an avid motivational and aspirational speaker, as well as a passionate philanthropist committed to organizations combating homelessness, financial illiteracy and violence against women. He lives in Chicago and New York.
ABOUT THE BOOK
In 2006 The Pursuit of Happyness -- the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir and blockbuster movie starring Academy Award nominee Will Smith -- introduced the world to Chris Gardner and his poignant journey from homeless single fatherhood to the pinnacle of Wall Street. With his sudden fame, he found himself besieged by millions of people wanting to share their own stories of hardship and triumph, and hoping to gain answers to two important questions: "How did you do it?" and "How can I do it too?" Responding to this overwhelming interest that has recently intensified as thousands of people have been forced to start over with little or nothing, Gardner at last reveals the philosophy and hard work behind his emotional, financial and spiritual success in START WHERE YOU ARE: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. Having beaten seemingly impossible odds on his way to becoming a profitable entrepreneur, popular speaker, dedicated activist and noted role model, Gardner knows all about overcoming obstacles, breaking cycles and realizing dreams.
He also understands that purpose, struggle, sacrifice, planning and discipline are required for meaningful accomplishments. His aim in START WHERE YOU ARE is to pay it forward by motivating others to harness and achieve their full potential -- beginning today and utilizing the resources already in place while building towards bigger goals and ambitions. Distilling his beliefs into 44 profound yet accessible chapters, Gardner offers practical guidance and pragmatic suggestions for tackling problems and seizing opportunities, all with his trademark humor, optimistic outlook and "tell it like it is" attitude. The book serves as a much-needed blueprint for navigating this tumultuous time with positivity, courage, focus, tenacity, discipline and common sense.
And while Gardner insists that there are no magic potions or shortcuts to success, he does have many valuable teachings that will benefit anyone willing to listen. To that end, START WHERE YOU ARE kicks off with universal lessons that can be put to use at once; digs into the past so we can learn to change how we deal with the present and the future; explores classic marketplace lessons for success; focuses on building on the basics to attain mastery; advocates deep soul-searching to uncover crucial spiritual lessons; and finally, provides lessons for appreciating the here and now.
Drawing from his wide-ranging experiences and the sage counsel he has received over the years, Gardner outlines his core principles including "Baby Steps Count Too, As Long As You Go Forward," "No Test, No Testimony," "The Law of Hard Work Is No Secret," "Learn the Ropes First, Then Conquer Rome," "Seek the Furthest Star" and "Don't Postpone Joy." Illustrated with illuminating anecdotes and personal stories, START WHERE YOU ARE also spotlights the diverse group of mentors, idols, heroes and anti-heroes who have all played a part in Gardner's evolution, everyone from his mother and his uncle to Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela.
Whether coping with a layoff, wrestling with fallout from the past, considering a career switch or looking for true fulfillment outside of the office, readers of START WHERE YOU ARE will be empowered with all the tools they need to follow Chris Gardner's inspiring, encouraging lead and undertake their own pursuit of happyness.
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Discussion and Book Signing
Thursday, May 21 7:00 PM
Book signing sponsored by BOOK PASSAGE
OSHER MARIN JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER
The Kanbar Center for the Performing Arts
200 N. San Pedro Rd.
San Rafael, CA 94903
Tickets $12 / $10 for JCC members / $32 with book
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Note: The previously announced participation of Willie Brown in this event has unfortunately been cancelled.