When I think about Will Smith, I think about The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, blockbuster movies, and Gettin’ Jiggy With It. Then about 5 years ago I discovered another side of Will Smith, the inspirational thought provoking side.
He always struck me as a cool dude you can chill with and learn from, then after watching his Tavis Smiley interview (a few other Youtube clips as well), I realized why he is successful. Here are a few of the life lessons I picked up on, that you can apply right now.
From The Specific Comes The Universal
That’s a quote Will Smith said he got from Denzel Washington. This is somewhat of a business/branding lesson more than a life lesson. This is one of those reminders not to stretch yourself thin.
Sometimes we try to make our story appeal to everyone, our business appeal to everyone, in Will’s case his movies/roles. But when you only focus on being specific, you actually appeal to more people than you would have otherwise.
Follow The Patterns
Will views himself as a student of patterns. The reason Will Smith keeps picking Sci-Fi movies is because growing up they always had a pattern of success. So it’s not a surprise his biggest movies are somewhat science fiction related.
That gem alone gave me much to think about. What are the patterns to successful businesses in my niche? What’s the pattern that leads to a successful friendship?
It’s a practice that even Warren Buffet tells people to do when looking at people you admire.
“Pick out a person you admire the most, and then write down why admire them. You’re not to name yourself in this.”
“And then put down the person that, frankly, you can stand the least, and write down the qualities that turn you off in that person. The qualities of the one you admire are traits that you, with a little practice, can make your own, and that, if practiced, will become habit-forming.”
Deciding Is Believing
“Just decide what it’s gonna be, who you’re gonna be, how you’re gonna do it”
This is Will Smith’s version of the law of attraction. He feels just simply making a decision about those 3 things, and working towards them is the key to his success.
Being very decisive about the future you want means you strongly believe it, and when you believe it that much, the universe will get out of your way.
He credits the book The Alchemist for influencing his way of thinking.
Hard Work Beats Talent
This is my favorite thing learned from Will. He recognizes he may not be as talented, smarter, sexier, or praised as the next man, but he refuses the next man to out work him.
I connect with this one the most because as a kid who grew up with little money, single parent home, no mentors, it’s the one thing that helped me. Just knowing that a good work ethic, something that’s FREE, and anyone can get is the biggest recipe of his success, should inspire you.
“If we get on a treadmill together there is two things: You’re getting off first or I’m gonna DIE. It’s really that simple”
Don’t Set Out To Build Walls
This gem kind of feeds off of the last one. Working hard on your skills and goals are important, but we also have to be realistic.
In an interview with Charlie Rose he spoke about how his father tore down the brick wall in front of his business, and had Will and his brother rebuild it. When they finished, his father told him “now, don’t you ever tell me there is something you can’t do”
The lesson Will got from this is you don’t set out to build a wall. You lay each piece as perfectly as you can, and you do that everyday until you get a wall. It took them a year to build that wall back.
What kind of walls are you trying to build? Focus on that one brick instead today.
Would love your thoughts. Feel free to comment or let me know on Twitter how you feel about any of these life lessons.