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5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn from The Pursuit of Happyness

Dan Western



5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn from The Pursuit of Happyness

It’s been almost a decade since the release of ‘The Pursuit of Happyness‘, and yet it still sticks in my mind as such an iconic inspirational film. Everyone should have seen this film, and especially those who have their own dreams that may be constantly put down by others.

As a recap, The Pursuit of Happyness is a based on a true story of the life of a single father, struggling to create a better life for him and his son.

Chris Gardner battles period of homelessness along with his son trying to make a living selling medical bone density scanners, whilst also being enrolled in an internship as a stockbroker.


5 Things to Learn from The Pursuit of Happyness

The film is so inspirational in many ways, but for any aspiring entrepreneurs who’ve seen the film there’s many things that can be learnt from Chris’ story. Here’s 5 things entrepreneurs can learn from The Pursuit of Happyness.


1. Things May Become Worse Before They Get Better

What makes Chris Gardner’s story so inspirational is that he had such a hard struggle before he finally became successful.

In the film, we see moments where he has to resort to sleeping in the bathroom of a subway one night, and yet he still makes the effort in front of his son to pretend that things aren’t what they actually are to keep him happy.

Not only that, but he goes through extreme hardships of having to sell his scanners to make a living, whilst enrolling in a full time internship, as well as looking after his son and having to sort out a place to stay for the night.

Things definitely became a lot worse for Chris Gardener before they got better, and it’s an important point to mention that no matter how bad they got, he didn’t give up. He just kept on going.

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2. Don’t Be Afraid to Aim High

From Chris Gardener’s current position as a relatively unsuccessful salesman, going for a job as a stockbroker may have seemed pretty high to a lot of people. After all, he had to go through the internship and even then, only 1 person would be offered the job.

You don’t have to aim high in life, that’s up to you. If you aim lower things will be easier, but if you aim high then you really do have an opportunity to be all that you can be and achieve your dreams. This is certainly how Chris saw things.

The odds were stacked against him but he still aimed high and went for what he wanted.

Don’t be afraid to aim high. Anything is possible if you are willing to work for it.


3. Work For it Like Your Life Depends on it

There’s no denying it, Chris Gardner worked incredibly hard to achieve success. There’s not a lot of people that would be prepared to take on an internship whilst having to make a living and look after their son whilst battling homelessness.

He got knocked back many times, but at the end of the day his tremendous work ethic shows.

There were many close calls in the film, where many people could have been tempted to give up. You see him staying up all night in a homeless shelter trying to fix a scanner, just so he could make ends meat.

There were so many small things that he did or didn’t do in order to increase his chances of becoming a success.

He didn’t spend much time at the water machine when at work, so that he’d have more time to spend calling clients and wouldn’t be wasting time in the bathroom.

If you want something badly, you need to be willing to work for it like your life depends on it. Forget about being just good enough. Be the best.

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4. Don’t Let Anyone’s Opinion Stop You

This can be seen in two angles in the film. Chris’ partner didn’t believe in him at all. She thought the idea of him interning as a stockbroker was absolutely ludicrous and that he should be focusing on getting an actual job.

From what we can see, this is why she decided to leave him, but it didn’t stop Chris from going for and getting what he wanted.

The other smaller angle is when Chris’ son is playing basketball on the court. Something that he loves. Chris tells his son that he doesn’t want him shooting hoops all day, before he quickly realizes he was wrong to say so.

“You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves they wanna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.” – Pursuit of Happyness

Never let anyone’s opinion stop you from going after what you want. So many people never achieve their dreams because they listened to their parents, or their friends, their doctors and so on. Go after your dreams regardless of whether people think they’re achievable or not.


5. Show No Weakness

If you take a look at how Chris greets and speaks with everyone at the firm, then you certainly wouldn’t think that he had problems as extreme as being homeless. He always turns up smartly dressed and will be talkative and polite with everyone he meets.

An iconic part of the movie that shows this is the fact that he’s willing to give one of his last $5 bills to an executive of the company for a cab fare home.

Anyone could have said no and that they needed it, but Chris wasn’t prepared to show any weakness or make himself look bad by not giving it to him.

Dan Western is the founder of Wealthy Gorilla. Dan has been running Wealthy Gorilla and studying self-development, personal finance and investment for the last 7 years, whilst traveling the world and being able to call Bali, Indonesia, his HQ. To this day, Wealthy Gorilla has become one of the fastest growing self-development sites in the world; with over 160 million views worldwide, and more than 200,000 followers on social media. Dan's mission is simply, to inspire others to live their dreams and be the person to whom they say; "Because of you, I never gave up."



  1. Granville Louw

    Aug 13, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Great Post once again!

    I enjoyed reading it.

    One lesson i have learned from the movie is that It’s okay if people don’t believe in your dream as long as you believe in yourself.

    • Dan Western

      Aug 13, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      Thanks for stopping by again Granville! That’s a great lesson indeed. Cheers.

  2. Bernard Sanchez

    Aug 20, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    All five points are powerful, but the fifth touches on an essential element of our lives. Many of us tend to play the victim whenever we face difficult circumstances, apportioning blame and, in effect, spending much energy on the past, rather than on the opportunities in the present.

    • Dan Western

      Aug 20, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Yes Bernard!

      Completely agree. A lot of the time people will feel sorry for themselves and this is something that definitely does not happen in Chris Gardener’s story. Thanks again!

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