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He had to make hundreds of cold calls to drum up clients. But in doing so he found clients who later brought him huge commissions. He never let himself leave the office until he had made his calls that day. So once you know your direction and what you are going to focus on, set goals for each day.

Set longer term goals for the month, the quarter, the year. He could have stayed in the medical field. It was comfortable.

Ethics & Public Policy Center

It paid the rent. It kept some food on the table. It was predictable. He was successful and respected. He was very good at it.

Vanishing time in the pursuit of happiness | SpringerLink

But it was not his true calling. It was not the right path for him. He had to change. But the transition to being a stock broker was not smooth. Career changes usually have a few bumps in the road. Chris Gardner kept asking and learning from the people around him.

Motivational Speech from Pursuit of Happiness

He did it in the medical field. It was the questions he asked the stock broker in the red Ferrari that set him on his true path in life. When everything looks bleak you must just keep moving forward because things can surprise you and get better. When you are trying to achieve something new and unknown, there will be days when you get very discouraged. On these days, all you have is your own faith. Chris basically taught himself to stop feeling sorry for himself and to just keep moving forward.

Daily life is the same for every individual. We all have to wake up, eat, wash, go to the toilet. We will all experience death, loss, and grief. We all get rejected. We all get injured and ill. And your level of happiness will not change anything about being human.

Sometimes we forget that. We think that everything will be better if we only feel happy. One of my close friends has 3 kids. He works as a network engineer and many people count on him at a telecom provider. But despite his responsibilities, his boss gives him a lot of freedom. Because my friend made arrangements with him. A lot of people assume you have to work for yourself to be free. My friend drops off his kids at school and comes home for lunch. He has enough freedom to enjoy his life.

There’s a Pony in Here Somewhere: A Post-Synodal Reflection

Just two years ago he complained a lot about his work situation. But now his life has more balance because he made a few clear decisions. He simply committed to freedom. That means no more spending time with negative co-workers. The alloy to the happiness we are so glad to be able to share with Mr Smith's Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness is harder to spot, and you may find that you don't agree with me about that anymore than some of you did about the ending of About Schmidt. Indeed, I think the director himself might not agree with me. Immediately after the immensely moving scene in which Chris Gardner is told he has the job he has been striving so long and hard for and made so many sacrifices to get, we see him in a crowd of people on the street going to or coming home from work, all of them presumably productive citizens with some place to go, some place where they are needed and wanted, and we also see how he stands out in this crowd — because the emotion of the moment makes it impossible for him to take these things for granted as those around him do.

If you listen to the director's commentary on the DVD of the movie, Mr Muccino tells us that, his idea in this scene was to show Chris re-joining the mainstream of society after his period of homelessness and isolation. But what struck me about it was the sense of his continued isolation from those around him. In spite, that is, of the extreme emotion of the moment, his sense of triumph and, doubtless, a kind of let-down that comes with it all at once, he has no one to share these things with.

He is alone in that crowd, and his inability to share his joy is a reminder of the extent to which he has also been unable to share his misery during the weeks and months of poverty and homelessness. Never by so much as a hint could he allow his fellow interns or his bosses at Dean Witter, who are also his judges, to know what he was enduring out of office hours. At the very moment of his great triumph, James Karen's Martin Frohm asks him if it was as easy as it looked, and he has to content himself with saying, when he is able to choke down his emotion enough to get it out, that No, no it wasn't that easy.

Then the wealthy and successful Mr Frohm pays him back the five dollars he borrowed from him when it was almost the only money he had in the world and might well have meant the difference between his and his son's being able and not being able to eat that day.

Parents say

The British have an expression by which someone who is extremely servile is described as a toad-eater. It seems to date from the 17th century and to derive from the medicine shows of that era during which a mountebank selling some patent medicine would make his assistant eat a live toad, a creature thought to be poisonous at the time, and then apparently revive him with the medicine as a proof of its efficacy.

The old-time medicine show is a useful comparison for Chris Gardner in one way, at least, because it could have had nothing on him for the amount of toad-eating involved. This, I think we are meant to understand, is what is involved not just in his life but in that of all successful salesmen — not salesmen at a distance, like the slogan-writers we saw in Christmas in July and Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House , but face-to-face, which is what Chris Gardner is doing with the not-very-salable bone-density scanners long before he ever thinks of becoming an intern with Dean Witter.

The idea of the scanners, by the way, belongs to Steve Conrad, the screenwriter, and is an inspired one. The real life Chris Gardner who wrote the memoir on which Mr Conrad based his screenplay was a medical technician, trained in the Navy, and not a salesman.

His ambition was at first to become a doctor and it was only belatedly that he decided to try stockbroking. Nor was he unpaid during his internship at Dean Witter, nor did the company only pick one from its crop of interns to offer a job to. All these are Mr Conrad's innovations in order to stress that what we are watching here might be called the Life of a Salesman, which is ever so much more heroic and therefore, in my opinion, interesting than Arthur Miller's lugubrious Death of a Salesman.

The practice that movie-Chris gets in enduring without complaint or emotional display the everyday humiliations of the itinerant salesman is what gives him that vital edge when he finds himself competing with much better educated but more t enderly-nurtured colleagues in the peculiarly humiliating exercise known as cold calling. But there is an important difference between Chris Gardner and Warren Schmidt, of which we can't help but be reminded by that near-final scene I mentioned of Chris alone in the crowd and the echo it sets up with the earlier scene of his first appearance in the Dean Witter offices in the clothes he has been painting in.

The point is of course to underline what would be apparent in any case, namely that Chris's is the only black face in the room. Servility, even the heroic servility of the salesman, is bound to mean something different for a black man than it does for a white, and is one reason why, I think, the movie got the lukewarm critical reception it did — about which I'll have something more to say in a moment.


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What I find interesting about this is that the racial implications of the film are almost entirely outside itself and connected to the reaction to it of white critics and audiences. Within the film the fact that the main character is black is almost an irrelevance. Once again, this is a departure from the book. Yet it is also true to say that the movie would have been unlikely to have been made in the first place were it not for the fact that its hero is black.

I find it wonderfully refreshing that the film allows us to take for granted the stockbroker's Ferrari as its synecdoche for the happiness Chris Gardner is in pursuit of. That kind of uncomplicated, unproblematic success makes this a kind of throwback to those films of the s and s we saw a few weeks ago.


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How you respond to this man's moving story may depend on whether you find Mr. Smith's and his son's performances so overwhelmingly winning that you buy the idea that poverty is a function of bad luck and bad choices, and success the result of heroic toil and dreams.