What’s up believe nation?
I started the Mentor Me series with the goal to try to learn from people who’ve done a lot more than us, hang around them a little bit longer and by being in their environment hopefully some of their mindsets, their beliefs, their way of thinking seep into us to help us become the best version of ourselves.
So today we’re going to learn from Denzel Washington and his motivational speeches. Mentor me Denzel.
Remember, two is my personal favorite and I’m curious to figure out which one you guys like the best.
And as always guys, as you’re watching the clip, if you hear somethin’ that really really resonates with you, please leave it down in the comments below and put quotes around it so other people can be inspired and also when you write it down, you’re much more likely to lock it in for yourself too. Enjoy.
Denzel Washington and his motivational speeches
#1: Find Your Calling
You know people used to say uh, well I’m going to go into acting but I’m going to study uh, law so I’ll have somethin’ to fall back on. I’m like well those are, you know I don’t want to fall back on anything. In fact if I’m going to fall, I want to fall forward.
Never knew about acting, didn’t know anybody that was in acting, had no desire to be one. Wasn’t anybody on the air that looked like me that made me want to be one.
I took a class in college. Fill out my, my card you know, get some extra credit. Figured, easy class, I’m acting you know. To be or not to be. And they just happened to be having auditions for a play an I got the lead role in a play the first time I read for one.
I remember just lookin’ out in the audience and goin’ boy I really like this. What is wrong with you? Why are you fumblin’ my football? In fact when I first started getting into acting, there was a teacher of mine, could see, the potential that I had when I couldn’t see it.
And he was very helpful in helping me to get my first agent and just telling me things like never compromise yourself. And he used to always say don’t, you don’t have to be intimidated by anyone and just remember, everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time. Within a year, of the time that I started acting, I already knew that that was going to be my lifelong profession. I had “found my, you know calling”.
“I remember the first film I ever did, It was Carbon Copy an I said to myself, this is just a natural world for me. This just feels comfortable. I was naive about it but I found out shortly thereafter you know, I did my stints of no work. ” – Denzel Washington
In Malcolm X was a role that I had done as a play. Back in 1981. People were comin’ down to see me. I mean I met everybody. I mean doin’ this little play for 125 dollars a week and Dianna Ross would be there one night. Muhammad Ali would be there the next night. An they was like, well who’s this kid.
They was feelin’ like, well I’m beginning to arrive in the New York theater community. I really didn’t know anything about Hollywood or makin’ movies and to be quite honest we were sort of snobbish and Hollywood an all that. We were going to you uknow, play the great roles and maybe one day make 600 dollars a week on Broadway.
I remember the first film I ever did. It was Carbon Copy an I said to myself, this is just a natural world for me. This just feels comfortable. I was naive about it but I found out shortly thereafter you know, I did my stints of no work.
#2: Fail Big!
Interviewer: There is no ceiling for you. Really? I mean there’s nothing you can’t do.
I don’t think there’s.
Interviewer: There’s no ceiling because you’ve proven that you can, you can cover the whole waterfront in terms of kinds of characters. Whether it’s a boxer or a quadriplegic or someone who’s a brilliant lawyer, a whole rang of stuff.
You know with the training that I had, that’s the way we were trained. To play any part. There’s no such thing as you can’t play a part. You may not be right for a particular part. But I don’t think there’s a part I can’t attempt to play.
I can at least analyze it and try to break down and put a performance together. May not be any good. But I was taught, one a the things I was taught that sticks in my mind was a gentleman by the name of Bill Ball, who was the artistic director of American Conservatory Theater, in San Francisco, an he always talked about failing big. Said if you’re going to fail, fail big. And I’m like I like that philosophy.
Interviewer: I do too, I do too.
You know I’m not a fall back mentality kind of person. People would say well you know, better have another career to fall back on. I’m like I don’t want to fall back. On anything. If I fall, I want to fall forward. I want to see what I’m hittin’.
Ya know what I mean, I don’t want to, I never understood that mentality.
Interviewer: I didn’t either.
I never understood it, I’m like, I’m goin’ that way, I don’t want to.
“People would say well you know, better have another career to fall back on. I’m like I don’t want to fall back. On anything. If I fall, I want to fall forward. I want to see what I’m hittin’.” – Denzel Washington
Interviewer: I mean if you’re worried about bein’ safe and secure if security is your by word then, you’re never going to reach out and do anything I don’t think it’s going to protect you.
Interviewer: It’s going to give you any kind of genuine satisfaction. If you’re worried about that then, you know. In other words if your a sailor you would never leave port. If you only care about security.
There was an IQ question, I think it was an IQ question, where they had nine dots. And you had to connect the dots I think with five lines without lifting the pencil. The only way you could do it was to go outside the box. You know people would sit there within go oh man, I can’t, you can’t do it, nobody said you can’t go outside the box.
#3: Put Things In Perspective
I was a garbage man. Like Troy.
You get eight hours worth a work but you could do it in three. So you can go home as soon as you finish. Post office you get three hours worth a work and you make it last eight. I did both. I liked bein’ a garbage man better.
But they weren’t bad jobs. It’s like Union peoples, oh the difficulty of makin’ a movie. I’m like send your son to Iraq, that’s difficult. It’s just a movie, it’s like relax. I don’t play that precious nonsense. Oh, oh, get out of here. You know, your son got shot in the face, that’s difficult.
Makin’ a movie is a luxury. It’s a gift, it’s an opportunity and most importantly it’s a gift. Obviously everybody here is talented enough to do that but don’t get it twisted, it’s just a movie. It ain’t that big a deal.
#4: Work On Your Passion
Do what you got to do until you can do what you want to do. You know I remember, after Carbon Copy, bein’ in the unemployment office. An havin’ friends, seein’ somebody I know on line C. An they’re like what are you doin’ in here man, I just seen you starrin’ in a movie.
What are you doin’ here? I’m like I’m here gettin’ my 126 dollars. And whatever it was an 50 cents. I’m waitin’ to get to line be like you are. Humbling experience. Isn’t that terrible? I didn’t get into this business to become a famous movie star. It was more about the work. It still is more about the work.
“Do what you got to do until you can do what you want to do.” – Denzel Washington
But the whole machine is accelerated now. You see if you have a little talent they can grind you up before you really have a chance to develop their talent. Goin on con, give me exact ranging and speed on our weapon.
I was fortunate to get a chance to develop. There were people that were willing to take what some might consider to be a risk, I think that it’s maybe just a testament to, me moving up the ladder. To my ability. An a 100 an 200 million dollars later everybody’s happy.
#5: Stick To Your Guns
You don’t have to compromise yourself. It’s something you don’t feel good about then don’t do it. The most important choices I’ve made was to say no. And I’ve said no many a time to films that I just didn’t, especially early on. That I just didn’t feel comfortable with.
There was one script that was brought to me I called it the nigga that you couldn’t kill. Cause they were like, he was accused a raping this white woman, in the 40s and they tried to hang him but he didn’t die. And then they tried to electrocute him, they were like it’s a comedy, I’m like it ain’t funny to me. so I actually called Cindy Dorthy who I was fortunate at that time and still to be able to call.
“Stick to your guns. If you don’t feel, like you should do it, then don’t do it. Cause you don’t want to be, you don’t want to be a negative energy on the set.” – Denzel Washington
And I said, this movie, is makin’, I’m sick and they offered me 600,000 dollars. To play the nigga they couldn’t kill. That’s what I call comedy. And he said to me, and I’ll say this to you, he said the first two or three or four films that you make in this industry Denzel, will determine how people will see you. He said, I’m not going to tell you what to do but remember that the first three four five things you make will determine how you’re perceived.
I turned it down, I turned money down. I needed the money, I turned it down, six months later I got Cry Freedom. So, stick to your guns. If you don’t feel, like you should do it, then don’t do it. Cause you don’t want to be, you don’t want to be a negative energy on the set.
That’s how I feel sometimes. You know, I ain’t doin’ this cause I need to slap somebody the second day. So I just, you know, I think the most important decisions you could make as an actor, actress, is sayin’ no, is sayin’ no, you don’t have to take your clothes off if you don’t want to then don’t.
#6: Dreams Need Goals
Dreams without goals are just dreams. And they ultimately fuel disappointment. Goals on the road to achievement, cannot be achieved without discipline, and consistency. I pray that you all put your shoes way under the bed at night.
“Dreams without goals are just dreams. And they ultimately fuel disappointment.” – Denzel Washington
So that you got to get on your knees in the mornin’. the one thing I’m the most happy about in terms of my career is the fact that I got there. With the grace of God first of all, but short of that, I got there just by workin’ hard. Not partyin’ with the right people, not, compromising myself in anyway or cutting any kind of deals, just by workin’ hard. Just by, pluggin’ along, sawing wood as I like to call it. I’m a 20 year overnight sensation.
Evan: So thank you guys so much for watching, I love to know, what did you learn from this video, what clip spoke to you the most and what are you going to take from these clips and immediately apply to your life or to your business somehow?
Leave it down in the comments below. I’m super curious to find out.
Finally I wanted to give a quick shout out to Siim Land, thank you so much for picking up a copy of my book, Your One Word and that awesome YouTube video around it as well, I really really really appreciate the support and I’m glad you like the book.
He’s entire entrepreneurial philosophy of life is based around your one word.
So thank you guys so much for watching. I believe in you, I hop you continue to believe in yourself. And whatever your one word is, much love I’ll see you soon.
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