PETALING JAYA: Any man would have been thrilled to have Will Smith play him – as Chris Gardner did in the film The Pursuit of Happyness.
However, the stockbroker-turned-motivational speaker has a bone to pick with the film, for which Smith earned an Oscar and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.
The film, which highlighted Gardner’s life in the early 1980s at a time when he was homeless and had to care for his son as a single father, went on to earn some US$307.1mil (RM1.4bil) at the box-office.
“Major different reality with the film; when the film portrays my son as a five-year-old, the truth at that time of our lives, he was 14 months old. He was still in diapers,” he said in an interview.
The character of Gardner’s child was played in the movie by Smith’s own son, Jaden, who was eight years old then.
Gardner said it was while he was washing his son in the bathroom of a train station in Oakland, California, he was living in at the time that he began asking himself some very hard questions.
“The hardest and the most transformative question was ‘how I got here?’. The answer was transformative – it was ‘I drove here’.
“The second I said that I went ‘Whoa!’ Well, if I drove here, then I can drive out of here,” he recalled, describing that moment as “the most centrally transformative moment” of his rags-to-riches journey.
“Accepting, ownership – I drove here. I have something to do with it,” said the 63-year-old, who was famously hired by a stockbroking firm despite turning up for the interview in his street clothes.
Transformation on an individual, institutional and a government level would not be possible without ownership, he added.
“You cannot change something until you own it. It has got to be personal, not just business,” said the now author cum entrepreneur.
It was another adversity in his life, the loss of his wife to brain cancer, that prompted Gardner to leave his lucrative and much-loved 30-year career in Wall Street.
“Some of the last conversations we were having was her asking me – ‘now that we can see how truly short life can be, what are you doing to do for the rest of your life?’
“What I want to do for the rest of my life right now is I want to help create the next Chris Gardner. They are all over the world and that’s why I’m coming all the way to Kuala Lumpur,” said Gardner, who is still pursuing “happyness” in his daily life.
He will be sharing more of his philosophies and methods on how to create a fulfilling, successful life based on positivity, tenacity and discipline at the Pemandu-organised Global Transformation Forum next week.
He joins other speakers such as Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma, Olympic champion Usain Bolt, winner of 13 F1 Grands Prix David Coulthard and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson.
More information can be found at globaltransformation.com.