Will Smith’s 10 Unofficial Keys to Success

Some of these awesome words of wisdom were said by Will in some of the epic movie work he’s done, while others have been taken from interviews and speeches he’s given.

Without further ado:

1. Don’t listen to the naysayers

I’m pretty sure this was one of Arnold’s 6 Rules also, but Will said it publicly first. Remember when he teamed up with little Jayden and did The Pursuit of Happyness? You have to protect your dreams at all costs and ignore all those people who’re trampling all over it — even those you love. People who can’t do will always show their insecure side by telling those who try that “it can’t be done”, etc.

2. Where you are isn’t where you’re going to be

There’s a growing disparity between those who’re self-made in the world and those who were born into money and power. This is because guys like Will, every rapper ever, and tech giants like Bill Gates didn’t believe their current circumstances would dictate where they were going in life. When it comes right down to it, this one is about having hope that stretches beyond any roadblocks you’re ever going to encounter in life.

3. Make a choice

Decide who you’re going to be. You can get a better idea of the message he’s trying to deliver when he says this to Tavis Smiley in the video shown at the end of the page. He’s talking about breaking conventions and creating your own reality, rather than having who you are and who you’re going to be dictated to you by the masses. “2 plus 2 only equals 4 if you accept that idea” says Will. Though you’re not likely to completely upend how numbers are calculated, your reality is yours to manufacture.

4. Have a purpose

This advice from Will is really inspirational, something that anyone with a family can relate to. Will says one of his biggest goals is to wake up each morning with a purpose. Not just a personal agenda, but a purpose to where if he doesn’t get everything done that he’s supposed to, other people besides him will suffer. He goes much further than feeling like he’s living a life of servitude to his friends and family, but to all of humanity. Considering how much he’s entertained all of us over the years, it seems like he’s doing a pretty good job of this one!

5. Be great

“Greatness exists in all of us.” Will believes this dictum to the point he’s willing to die for it. Will believes that greatness is a state of mind, rather than something that’s only handed down to a select few. It’s what you do that decides whether you actually find it; in this life or the next.

6. Commit

Not hard to understand this one. Resolve is easy when nothing’s in your way. True commitment is the only thing that’ll make you stay the course when times get tough!

7. Don’t be outworked

His “I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill” quote has been echoed hundreds of thousands of times. Will claims that he isn’t the smartest man, nor the most gifted in any single way. He uses his “ridiculous work ethic” to fly by everyone on the road to success and greatness. I love this one about his work ethic “When we get on the treadmill, there’s two things that are gonna happen: either you’re getting off first, or I’m gonna die.”

8. Work on your skills

“The separation of talent versus skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people looking to find success.” Will believes in continually practicing the skills you’ll need to succeed. There’s no other way to attain mastery at anything in this world. As a bit of a contrast, check out this article debunking Gladwell’s 10,000 hour to mastery theory. The study in the article contends that practise is more important in some areas of skill attainment than others.

9. Let fear motivate you

Did you’ know that during his time as a rapper, the producers of the Cosby Show were hounding Will to try out for a spot on the show? Would you believe a prolific, accomplished achiever like Will was actually too scared to try out, after multiple meetings had been set only to see him making an excuse why he couldn’t make it? He turned that paralyzing fear into his driving force and soon found himself headlining his own show, which we all know about The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” He claims to have used the unpleasant, ashamed feeling the Cosby Show humdrum left him with to never let fear stop him again, and rather use fear as a sign that it’s time to wake up and get to work.  In my opinion, as a young man on the precipice of success, he made this mental shift at just the right time — before fear of failure became a driving force in his life.

10. Be amazing at what you do

Let’s face it, during his time on the Fresh Prince, we didn’t get to see much of Will’s acting chops. By the time we see him in Six Degrees of Separation, practise and persistence had made him into an actor that people respected as a serious actor. Look at this list of Will Smith movies and try to say that you haven’t been touched in a positive way by at least one. He constantly worked to get better at his craft and has always been a humble self promoter too. Second best just isn’t good enough, right?


Main Image Credit: Walmart/Flickr

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