“Was it as easy as it looked?”
Sitting across from Chris were four rich white men. Supremely successful in every way. They smiled at him.
And as they ask the question, redness forms in the corners of Chris’s eyes. Tears began to form. Within his soul, deep satisfaction began to overwhelm him.
His life flashed before him. The agony. The struggle. The homeless nights and hungry days when there wasn’t anything for him to eat.
The fights with his ex-wife and the fear that consumed him about what would become of his young son.
“Was it easy?”
The answer was simple. A single syllable uttered from the depths of a man who had been put through life’s toughest test.
“No,” he replied softly.
I can imagine that he wanted to say something more.
He wanted to tell the story of what it took to get to this point. He wanted to burst out in tears a joy that everything he had been through up to this moment was enough to springboard him towards his future.
Instead, he did none of that. He kept it inside and walked away. He had passed the test.
That man was Chris Gardner. That scene was the closing three minutes of the wildly popular movie “The Pursuit of Happyness.”
(You can read the rest of his story here)
For those of us watching the movie, it all has a feel-good, happy ending. The drama and storyline consume only two hours of viewing time. From sadness to happiness in mere minutes.
But for Chris and for you, the tests you will have to take in life don’t happen so quickly.
Things don’t get tough for minutes. They stay that way for months. And sometimes longer.
Which is why if you want a different reality than you’re living in now, you are going to have to get comfortable being tested uncomfortably. That’s a different lesson
A lesson I learned the hard way. I used to think I was good at taking tests.
After all, I not only graduated top two in my class in high school, I scored very high on my college entrance exams and had a 4.0 or higher through five years of college — at two different universities.
For those first two decades of my life, I was pretty successful at learning information and spitting it back at the teacher in whatever form they were testing me.
But the tests that you need to pass in life — the ones that really matter — they aren’t based on memorization.
That’s what Chris learned.
I wrote in my book, EDGY Conversations, about one of the toughest struggles in my life — a moment in time where I contemplated suicide.
In the opening chapter, I wrote about the pain and anguish that I was feeling at that time.
In truth, that moment was a test.
But the only reason that test happened, was because I had failed to learn a bunch of important lessons.
I realized that having a good answer isn’t the same as passing the test.
And in that moment of depression, I was being tested as a new husband and young father. I was being tested as a salesperson and business leader. My faith in something bigger than me was being tested. My faith in others was being tested.
My belief in myself was being tested.
Often, when I find myself struggling, I turn inward and ask myself what I am doing that has caused the current pain I am experiencing.
“What can I do better?”
“What have I missed?”
“Who can help me avoid feeling this way in the future?”
I have come to realize that the answers to these questions reveal the truth about being tested.
Like Chris Gardner lived out in his inspiring life story, it’s never as easy as it looks. In fact, you better believe that it’s always harder than you can ever imagine. That it requires all you have and then some more.
hat you can do better is impossibly endless. And what you have missed is nothing at all. By daring to dream and by expecting more for yourself, you automatically open yourself up to learn and grow and thrive — and to be tested.
In the end, you realize that you are enough. And despite the pain and fear you feel, within you is the resilience you will need to meet the test with open arms — and pass from the darkness into light.
I am enough.
You are enough.
To pass the test.
Especially when it’s not easy.