Chris Gardner’s “Start Where You Are”

Synopsis: If the name Chris Gardner stands out to you, it’s because he’s the same guy from the novel “The Pursuit of Happyness” (which was adapted into a feature film starring Will Smith).  From homeless with a baby boy, to multi millionaire.  Chris gives you lessons for life, business, and simple well-being to hit a milestone in your life.

Gardner, being in such a unique situation, was often asked “How did you do it?” – “How did you beat the odds?” – “Can you help me?” Even though he enjoys meeting new people, and helping, he thought “there must be a way I can help a larger audience.”

No matter what your goal is, this book may help.  Starting a new business and over come with anxiety? Stuck at a job and don’t know how to get out? Having a family crisis or a health scare? Simply want a guide to all of this? Gardner shows you 44 ways in which your life could benefit.

Outlook: I admit, I never thought of myself to be one reading a self-help book.  And I’ll be honest, I don’t really like to call it that.  There is no real right answer to a question in Gardner’s book, but he does a great job focusing your mind on the tasks at hand.

There is no section called “over coming depression” or “tomorrow is a new day!” Instead Gardner takes his time as a homeless man, mixes it into his business savvy, and gives you a kick in the butt.  Whatever your endeavour with life, we need to realize that “the cavalry ain’t coming.”

I purchased this book after reading “The Pursuit of Happyness”. That was my first biography, and I was hooked.  Gardner does a terrific job of letting you into his entire life.  From childhood turmoil to the millionaire broker.  I wanted to read more from Chris.  Admittedly, the title “Start Where You Are” reeled me in.

Sometimes we need to read a “kick in the butt” book, even though we already know what the book contains.  We know that “Baby steps count too, as long as you go forward…” but sometimes we just need to hear it from someone.

Gardner promises no over night success.  No instant riches, no schemes, and no secrets to life.  This is his tool book.  His workshop.  It’s what he used to go from sleeping in bathrooms, to the top of the corporate ladder.  Sure, hard work is part of it, and there is no excuse not to give something your all.  But what about when your all, isn’t enough?

I was at a crossroads in my life.  I knew I wouldn’t find the answer from a self-help book, but I couldn’t find the advice I was looking for either.  I had started a new job, one I trained quite hard for not only physically, but it drained my wallet with schooling and certifications.  I hated the job, but I needed it now more than ever.  I stopped sleeping, became overwhelmed, and even though I had a roof over my head and food on the table, I felt I made a terrible mistake.

I always said to myself “there are people out there who have neither [food or shelter], and you are complaining”. I felt less than everyone, even though I had more.

I also had a family member in the fight of their life with a rare form of cancer.

I wanted to move forward, but I couldn’t.  I needed to break the cycle.  Physically, and mentally.  Gardner’s “Start Where You Are” helped me with that.

Finally, I would like to add how open Chris is to everyone communicating with him.  He now lives out of airports (jokingly, he travels a lot) jumping from city to city, public speaking.  He loves talking to people and hearing their stories; it’s his passion.  After completing my second read through of this book, I sent Chris an email.  In a short and sweet reply, he simply said “I’m so glad my books have helped you.  Now that you have the tools, show me you can use them!” – That has always stuck.

Now, years later, I still take Chris’ words with me.

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