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MOTIVATION: Denzel Washington On Success and Failure

I found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks.


MOTIVATION: Denzel Washington On Success and Failure

Nelson Mandela said there is no passion to be found playing small and settling for a life that's less than the one you're capable of living now.

I'm sure in your experiences in school and applying to college and picking your major and deciding what you want to do with life, I'm sure people told you to make sure you have something to fall back on.

Make sure you've got something to fall back on honey, but I never understood that concept. Having something to fall back on.

If I'm going to fall I don't want to fall back on anything I want to fall forward. I figure at least this way I'll see what I'm going to hit.

Without consistency, you'll never finish. So do what you feel passionate about. Take chances.

Don't be afraid to fail.

There is in IQ test - nine dots and you had to draw five lines with a pencil, within these nine dots without lifting the pencil.

The only way to do it was to go outside the box. Don't be afraid to think outside the box.

Don't be afraid to FAIL BIG, to DREAM BIG but remember.

Dreams without goals are just dreams.

Reggie Jackson struck out 2,600 times in his career.

The most in the history of baseball but you don't hear about the strikeouts.

People remember the home runs.

Fall Forward.

Thomas Edison conducted 1,000 failed experiments. Did you know that? I didn't know that because the 1,001st was the light bulb.

Fall Forward.

Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.

You've got to take risks and I'm sure you probably heard that before but I want to talk to you about why that's important.

You will fail at some point in your life.

Accept it. You will lose. You will embarrass yourself.

You will suck at something.

There's no doubt about it and I know that's probably not a traditional message for a graduation ceremony today.

I'm telling you, embrace it because it's inevitable.

In the acting business, you fail all the time.

Early on in my career, I auditioned for a part in a Broadway musical.

Perfect role for me I thought except for the fact that I can't sing.

I didn't get the job but here's the thing. I didn't quit. I didn't fall back.

I walked out of there to prepare for the next audition and the next audition and the next audition.

I prayed, I prayed and I prayed but I continue to fail and fail and fail. But it didn't matter because you know what, there's an old saying you hang around the barbershop long enough sooner or later you're going to get a haircut.

So you will catch a break and I did catch a break. Last year I did a play called fences on Broadway but here's the kicker.

It was at the Court Theatre. It was at the same theatre where I failed at my first audition 30 years prior.

The point is, every graduate here today has the training and the talent to succeed but do you have the guts to fail?

If you don't fail you're not even trying. I'll say it again. If you don't fail you're not even trying.

To get something you never had you have to do something you never did.

Imagine you're on your deathbed and standing around your deathbed are the ghosts representing your unfulfilled potential.

The ghosts of the ideas you never acted on.

The ghosts of the talents you didn't use. And they're standing around your bed, angry, disappointed, and upset.

They say we came to you because you could have brought us to life. They say and now we have to go to the grave together.

So I ask you today, how many ghosts are going to be around your bed when your time comes?

I just got back from South Africa - a beautiful country - but there are places there with terrible poverty that need help.

Africa is just the tip of the iceberg. The Middle East needs your help. Japan needs your help. Alabama needs your help. Tennessee needs your help. Louisiana needs your help. Philadelphia needs your help.

The world needs a lot and we need it from you. We really do. We need it from you, young people.

I mean I'm not speaking for the rest of us up here but I know I'm getting a little grayer.

We need it from you, the young people because remember this - you got to get out there and you got to give it everything you got.

Whether it's your time, your talent, your prayers, or your treasures.

What are you going to do with what you have?

I'm not talking about how much you have. Some of you are business majors, some of you are theologians, nurses, sociologists. Some of you have money. Some of you have patience. Some of you have kindness. Some of you have love. Some of you have a gift of long-suffering. Whatever it is.

Whatever your gift is, what are you going to do with what you have?

Alright now here's my last point about failure.

Sometimes it's the best way to figure out where you're going.

Your life will never be a straight path.

I began at Fordham University as a pre-med student. I took a course called cardiac morphogenesis. I couldn't read it. I couldn't say it and sure I couldn't pass it so then I decided to go into pre-law, then journalism. And with no academic focus, my grades took off in their own direction.

I was a 1.8 GPA and the university very politely suggested that it might be better to take some time off.

I was 20 years old. I was at my lowest point and then one day and I remember the exact day March 27, 1975, I was helping my mother in her beauty shop.

My mother owned a beauty shop and there was this older woman who was considered one of the elders in the town and I didn't know her personally, but I was looking in the mirror and every time I looked through the mirror I could see her behind me and she was staring at him. She just kept looking at me.

Every time I looked at it, she kept giving me these strange looks.

So she finally took the dryer off her head and she said something I'll never forget.

She said, "Young boy, I have a prophecy, a spiritual prophecy." She said - you are going to travel the world and speak to millions of people.

And in the years that follow just as that woman prophesizes, I have traveled the world and I have spoken to millions of people through my movies. Millions who up until this day couldn't see me.

I couldn't, up until this day I couldn't see them while I was talking to them and they couldn't see me. They could only see the movie but couldn't see the real me.

But I see you today and I'm encouraged by what I see and I'm strengthened by what I see because taking the risk is not just about going for a job, it's also about knowing what you know and what you don't know.

It's about being open to people and to ideas the chances you take the people you meet. The people you love. The faith that you have.

That's what's going to define you never be discouraged. Never hold back.

Give everything you've got and when you fall throughout life, remember this



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