movie starts with the year 1981. The location is San Francisco, California. The main character (protagonist), Chris Gardner played by Will Smith, invests his complete life savings in transportable bone-density scanners which he exhibits to doctors and sells as a convenient quantum leap over typical X-rays. Although he makes some sales, he is unable to make enough money to pay his bills. His already disillusioned and bitter wife, played by Thandi Newton, decides to leave him and their son for fear of being unable to be a single mother. He is left with his son and decides to continue selling the bone scanners downtown.
While taking a cab, at the end of the cab ride, he impresses Jay Twistle, played by Brian Howe, who happens to be a manager for Dean Witter, by quickly solving a Rubik's cube. Chris does not have enough to pay for the fare and decides to run from the cab driver. While the cab driver is in hot pursuit, Chris evades him in the subway and loses one of his scanners. He earns an internship stockbroker from Twistle after arriving at the office. Although he was arrested, had to paint his apartment, and was tired and dirty, he managed to impress the bosses.
The reason he had to paint his apartment was due to the landlord. The landlord offered Gardner more time in the apartment if he prepped it for the new tenants. His bad luck continued when his bank account was garnished by the IRS due to some previously owed income taxes. Additionally his son and he get evicted. He only had around thirty dollars to his name when he was evicted and ended up staying with his son in a subway bathroom.
Eventually he managed to get access to a shelter called the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church. He learned of this place from a tip from a worker at another shelter that only accepted women and children. Every afternoon after work, he had to race with his son to earn a place in line at the shelter. When in the subway, Gardner spots a crazy homeless man with the bone scanner he had lost earlier. The homeless person thought the bone scanner was a time machine.
Gardner managed to repair and sell the scanner. He still needed however, to impress his bosses to land a coveted full time position at the company. So he invented ways to get more phone call sales and get in touch with high value customers. All of this landed him the full time position. Overjoyed at his success, he picked up his son from the daycare and began joking with him while walking in the city. During the walk he came across the real Chris Gardner who went on to become a millionaire business man.
2. The lead character is Chris Gardner. He is a very intelligent man who can repair bone scanners, solve a Rubik's cube, and impress executives even if dressed shabby. He seemed very determined, assertive, and a risk taker. One could see this by how he ran from the cab, invested in the bone scanners, and gave his $5 to pay for another executive's cab.
Although some things were most likely embellished, it did seem quite realistic, especially the homeless situation. There have been people who got out of the gutter and made their way to fortune. The real Chris Gardner did most of what was shown on film including landing the fulltime position of stock broker. Using the VIA assessment tool in an earlier assignment, I had identified my five signature strengths. These were curiosity, vitality, social intelligence, citizenship, and humor.
I believe I share a lot of strengths to that of Chris Gardner. One specific one would be vitality. I remember when he had to paint his apartment and go through the interview for the internship position. That took a lot of energy, both mental and physical. I possess this strength, most definitely.
3. I think the two strengths he possessed, which I also possess that helped him and complimented each other are vitality and social intelligence. Even with all the energy in the world, if one cannot understand social cues, have manners, speak in a pleasant manner, and understand how to be charming, assertive, and clear, it would be very hard to achieve anything. He possessed enough social intelligence to not only impress strangers, but also land a job that other people were vying for. He managed to strike and build connections with people to get him to a place he wanted to be in life, very few could do that, even with all the vitality in the world.
4. Gardner faced many setback in his pursuit of happiness. These setbacks acted as the antagonist of the story. It was not one particular person but a series of unfortunate events that propelled him to go forward to make a life for himself and his son. His wife, the opposite of him in regards to their son did not believe she had what it took to raise a child. Gardner however, wanted and loved his done, going the distance to ensure he had a roof over his head.
4. PERMA was seen through various ways. Gardner felt immense pleasure when he landed the position at the company. He felt engaged when he repaired his scanner, sold it, and landed the fulltime position. The relationships between his coworkers, his bosses, and his son went well. Even with all the hardship his son had to endure, he loved his father very much. Being able to earn a living for himself and his son not only brought meaning back into his life, after a hell of unfortunate circumstances, it also gave him a sense of pride and achievement as he did it all on his own.
5. Many people go through what Gardner went through. Many people have unpaid tickets that they then get arrested for. Many people get their wages garnished and invest in unsuccessful ventures. Many people, unfortunately, become homeless and lose their jobs, finances, and everything. Gardner is an intelligent man who most likely made a life meant to succeed. However some mistakes along the way landed him in a deep hole, providing the many setbacks he had to endure throughout the film.
6. Gardner exhibited many strengths. His mental focus, intelligence, social intelligence, and vitality enabled him to do and accomplish things very few people could. Such display could even be interpreted as actions depicted in Cognitive dissonance theory (Myers, 2004, p. 32). Although he felt a certain way by the actions he committed, he was still highly motivated to continue them because he know of what the possible end goal would be. If it were not for his intelligence, solving the Rubik's cube, he would not have impressed the executive. His sheer tenacity and mental focus allowed him to continue pursuit of disapproved maneuvers to ensure his fulltime position in the company. Even when he was homeless, forced to live in a subway bathroom, he still managed to keep up appearances and make sure no one thought he was unstable.
It was his desire to push through it all amidst all the chaos and upheaval that propelled him to a top spot as a stock broker. The theatrical solution to the problem however embellished or exaggerated, was based on a real life story. Someone possesses these strengths that made him a millionaire. That someone was the man Will Smith passed at the end of the movie.
7. "Duration refers to how long an individual pursues a particular course of direction at work, perhaps persisting even when facing obstacles" (Jex, 2002, p. 234). Gardner displayed persistence in getting the fulltime position. When he handed one of the people from the company a $5 bill even when he needed those $5 it was showing he was dedicated and faithful of getting the job. It was a risk he was willing to take.
I remember from the same assignment mentioned earlier, how I took the University of Pennsylvania's Authentic Happiness strengths indicator test. It identified my top five strength. They are: love of learning, leadership, gratitude, hope, and social intelligence. I strongly believe hope, gratitude, and social intelligence are what can propel any person from a state of destitution to a state of happiness and success. All my strengths could be used to generate a life for myself where I am satisfied because all those qualities can work together to overcome many obstacles.
8. The main point of the story which I think many people can relate to is that for one person to pursue his or her happiness, they have to really struggle. They have to be uncomfortable. They have to pursue that which frightens them, scares them, because ultimately that will transform the person to be what they need in life. So many people are fearful of the unknown.
So many people are afraid to wander passed routine…