On a winter’s day, Chris Gardner set off with his nine-year-old granddaughter Brooke to find the harmonica of her dreams. The search sends them North “beyond the wall” into a foreboding Chicago neighborhood and, soon, on a harrowing adventure that will change both of their lives—and ours. Chris is still mourning the loss of his girlfriend to brain cancer. Her question haunts him: “Now that we know how short life can be, what will you do with the time you have left?” After five years, he feels an urgency—what he calls, “Atomic Time” in which every second counts—to find an answer, but is stuck. Even while giving Brooke permission to aspire to one day become President of the United States, he knows it’s time to reclaim his own permission to dream.
Lost, Chris and his granddaughter board a bus, reminding him of earlier rides through dark times when dreams of a better life kept him alive. As the two wind through a changing cityscape, Chris reflects on past lessons that offer powerful guidance for dreaming your way to monumental success.
At its heart, this book lays out a blueprint for building a dream-come-true life—even during uncertainty. Gardner delivers the secrets to achieving a prosperous career—from a method for identifying your ultimate dream to a playbook for becoming world class at it. His tools include the “new 3 R’s”—or the Rep, the Rap and the Rolodex—which reveal how to earn a stellar reputation, develop a rap for marketing yourself, and amass a Rolodex of rewarding relationships. No matter how much wealth you achieve, Chris notes, true success comes from enriching the lives of others—so all can still have access to the American Dream.
Toward the end, Brooke observes that in Atomic Time it’s never too late for anyone to reinvent themselves and change their fortune. Chris, hearing her, realizes what his next pursuit will be—to go back to high school and give permission to dream to the next generation of problem solvers and change makers.
A true fable, Permission to Dream is a timeless and timely manifesto for turning dreams into action—beginning right now.
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