Having sold millions of records, had a super Hit Sitcom, and starred in some of the most famous movies across our screens, it is hard to find someone who is more successful across so many media platforms.
Will Smith is one of the most talented, hardworking and humble personalities of our generation, it is clear to see the true motivation, dedication to his work and a total self belief that he enters each new project with. Whether it’s a new music album or the next blockbuster movie. Will Smith has a knack for success. But it’s the lessons taught to him at an early age that created an unbreakable ‘can do’ attitude and this did not necessarily come from formal education, but from lessons from parents and life itself. “The things that have been most valuable to me I did not learn in school” ~ Will Smith
5 important lessons I learnt from Will Smith which you can learn too
#1. Dream big
“Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they are going to tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.” ~ Will Smith
To Will Smith it seems clear that dreaming is the single most important part to becoming a success. Without dreams, we are no more than robots or machines. In life, our dreams can often feel far fetched, not achievable and unrealistic, “Being realist is the most commonly travelled road to mediocrity, what’s the point in being realistic? ~ Will smith. Speaking from experience it can often be very difficult to believe in the dream long enough to see it become a reality and every day can be a challenge, but don’t let the haters bring you down. Protect your dream, dream big…as big as you can, aim high, focus and work hard. When we get there…even the haters will say “I always knew he/she was going to do something great”.
#2. Focus on plan A
“There’s no reason to have a plan B because it distracts from plan A” ~ Will Smith
This is something that is now sadly built into our culture. And yes unfortunately many of us have heard our parents or teachers say:
“get a degree first and if your music or artistic career doesn’t work out you can always get a job in…finance or marketing”
“you must have a qualification to fall back on if your business or sports career fails, then you can always find a job, you may not love it, but it will pay the bills”.
Focus only on succeeding on your Plan A – your dream. Give it 100% of your attention. Don’t learn to quit if you fail…learn to persevere so you don’t… learn to work even harder, learn to study even more, learn to never give up. Anyone who has made it to the top never quit and never settled for plan B. They only ever focused on their BIG DREAM. Protect your dream, hold on to it tight. After all…it’s YOUR Dream!
#3.Talent vs Skill
“I’ve never really viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening, work ethic, while the other guy’s sleeping…I’m working…while the other guy’s eating….I’m working.” ~ Will Smith
“The separation between talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, have dreams and want to do things. Talent you have naturally, skill, is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft” ~ Will Smith
“There is no easy way around it. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, your talent is going to fail you if you are not skilled, if you don’t study, if you don’t work really hard and dedicate yourself to being better, every single day!” ~ Will Smith
With the right mindset, work ethic and patience, any one of us can sit at the number one spot in life, over taking even the most educated, most talent, most popular . But luck has very little part to play in it all, never be outworked and ultimately let your work do the talking for you. Talent will make you good, however, work on your skill and you will become great!
#4.Failure vs Success
“My grandmother once told me…don’t let failures get to your heart and don’t let success get to your head” ~ Will Smith
One of the most difficult things in life is to stop failures getting into our hearts, it definitely hurts. No matter what we try, failing isn’t part of our school curriculum, therefore we often don’t know how to deal with it when it comes. I can think of a saying a recently heard. “I win or learn…never lose”. Each failure teaches us more than a thousand successes. Valuable lessons that lead us to our success. Even Will Smith had his fair share of failures, but no one is harder on him then he is on himself.
Success is a hard one to define as we are not there yet, but it seems obvious not to let it get to your head. He defines success as climbing a mountain, the higher you climb, the harder it becomes to breath, so stay grounded.
#5.Run and Read
“The keys to life are running and reading. When you’re running, there’s a little person that talks to you and says, “Oh I’m tired. My lung’s about to pop. I’m so hurt. There’s no way I can possibly continue.” You want to quit. If you learn how to defeat that person when you’re running, you will learn how to not quit when things get hard in your life. For reading: there have been gazillions of people that have lived before all of us. There’s no new problem you could have–with your parents, with school, with a bully. There’s no new problem that someone hasn’t already had and written about it in a book” ~ Will Smith
These two things are simple, most of us can do them without much thought, they are free and can be done morning, noon or night. Yet, it seems we may greatly undervalue them. Take the lessons from a man who knows and see if these small changes can have a big effect.
A little more …
One inspiring story from Will Smith’s early days is of how his father tore down a brick wall in front of his business and asked 12 year old Will and his 9 year old brother to rebuild it. For two young kids, this task would obviously seem impossible, however, a year and a half later, they had finally completed building that wall…their fathers response “Now don’t you ever tell me… there’s something you can’t do” . These powerful lessons seem to have built the solid foundation that Smith is now standing on, and through this experience he understands how the lessons can be applied to success in any field. “You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say “I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.” You don’t start there. You say, “I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. You do that every single day. And soon you have a wall.” ~ Will Smith
But how did he achieve such early success and manage to remain at the top of his game for so many years, is it talent? Is it luck? Or something else? And is it possible for us all to get there?
Will Smith started his entertainment career, rapping at the age of only 16 with DJ Jazzy Jeff. Their 1987 debut album, Rock the House, hit the Billboard Top 200, and made Smith a millionaire before the age of 18 with a hit single on the radio for 30 days before completing high school. The early success put any thoughts of attending university out of his mind.
#Novice Actor to TV sitcom star
Young and living the life, Will Smith didn’t manage his wealth wisely, resulting in him almost becoming bankrupt in 1980 due to unpaid taxes to the value of $2.8 million. Thankfully, he was chosen to star in the new NBC series ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’
Having never formally trained as an actor and so desperate to succeed as the ‘Fresh Prince’, Smith work hard at studying the entire scripts, so much so, that not only did he memorise his lines, but he even learnt the lines of the other actors (watch closely, this can be seen in early episodes). “I would memorise the entire script, then I’d be lipping everybody’s lines while they were talking” ~ Will Smith. The show became hugely successful and he paid 70% of his salary back to the IRS for the first 3 seasons.
Hollywood was the natural progression for Will Smith and as many of you know, a movie starring Will Smith will rarely a disappointment. From Men In Black, Independence day, I Robot, Enemy of the state, The Pursuit of Happyness, Hitch, Seven Pounds, Concussions, the list can go on and on. It’s hard to fault his performances. According to Forbes, Will Smith is one of Hollywood’s best investments, for each dollar he gets paid, his movies bring in $10 of gross income. What more could you ask for!
#Willard the Wise