I started the MentorMe series with the goal to try to learn from people who’ve done a lot more than us, try to hang out with people who’ve had more success than us and hopefully some of their beliefs, some of their mindset, some of their way of working seeps into us to help us become the best version of ourselves. Mentor me, Will.
Will Smith’s Work Ethic
#1: Be on a Quest to be Better
Ellen DeGeneres: Think that you are so incredible in all areas, and you are so talented in so many ways, obviously. But you seem to have always been this. I mean, obviously we grow and we get better and better, but what was the driving force? Have you always been on some kind of quest to be better.
You know there was, excuse me, there was a moment when I was about nine years old, and I was at the Resurrection Baptist Church.
That was the church I went to growing up, and my grandmother was always in charge of all of the recitals and Easter recitations, and all of that stuff, so I was playing a piano, and I remember my grandmother was standing back off-stage, and she put me last in the show and everything and I had learned Für Elise and I was playin’ Für Elise, and I’m goin’ and goin’ and goin’ and I never learned how to end it, right.
So I was just playin’ and playin’ and playin’ and my grandmother was standin’ backstage and I was lookin’ and playin’ and that look of pride and happiness, on my grandmother’s face, that’s my life force.
Everything I do, I just need that look, you know, in my wife’s eyes, in my daughter’s eyes. It’s just, you know, I realized very, very young, that there’s no easy way around it.
No matter how talented you are, your talent is going to fail you if you’re not skilled. You know, if you don’t study, if you don’t work really hard and dedicate yourself to being better every single day, you’ll never be able to communicate with people with your artistry the way that you want. So it’s that moment, I just remembered so distinctly and how good it felt, an I just, I need it!
#2: Take the First Step
I believe and I learned very young From my parents, absolutely, that you don’t try to build a wall. 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” .”There will not be one brick on the face of the earth, “that’s going to be laid better than this brick “that I’m going to lay in this next 10 minutes.” and you do that every single day, and soon you have a wall.
And I think psychologically, the advantage that, that gives me over a lot of people that I have been in competition with in different situations, is it’s difficult to take the first step when you look how big. The task is never huge to me. It’s always one brick.
#3: Don’t be Outworked
There’s a concept that, I don’t want to be an icon. I want to be an idea. You know, I want to represent an idea. I want to represent possibilities.
I want to represent magic, right, that you’re in a universe and two plus two equals four. Two plus two only equals four if you accept that two plus two equals four.
Two plus two’s going to be what I want it to be. There’s a redemptive power that making a choice has. Rather than feeling like you’re at affect to all the things that are happening. Make a choice, right.
You just decide what it’s going to be, who you’re going to be, how, you’re going to do it. Just decide and then from that point, the universe is gon’ get out your way. It’s water, it wants to move and go around stuff.
So for me, I want to represent possibilities. I want to represent the idea that you really can make what you want.
One of my favorite books is The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho. And I just believe that. I believe that I can create whatever I want to create.
If I can put my head on it right, study it, learn the patterns and, you know, it’s hard to put into words, real metaphysical, esoteric nonsense, but I feel very strongly that we are who we choose to be.
The only thing that I see, that is distinctly different about me, is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked! Period, you know.
You might have more talent than me.
You might be smarter than me.
You might be sexier than me.
You might be all of those things.
You got it on me in nine categories.
But if we get on the treadmill, together.
There’s two things.
You’re gettin’ off first, Or I’m going to die.
It’s really that simple, right! So, let’s go back to the question about what if people block me out? It’s going to be two options. I’m going to get back in, or I’m going to be dead. It’s like, you’re not going to outwork me.
It’s a very, it’s such a simple, basic concept, is the guy who is willing to hustle the most is going to be the guy that just gets that loose ball. You know, it’s oh, and he got the oh, okay he got two. Whew, he’s hustling, he grabbed that one. It was going to be out of bounds, but he saved it back in.
It’s like the commodity that I see the majority of people who aren’t getting the places they want or aren’t achieving the things that they want in this business is strictly based on hustle. It’s strictly based on being outworked. It’s strictly based on missing crucial opportunities. I say all the time, if you stay ready, you ain’t got to get ready.
I realized that to have the level of success that I want to have, it’s difficult to spread it out, and do multiple things, in order to be world-class. And I made a decision I want to be world-class.
And it takes such a desperate obsessive focus, to excel on the level that I want to make movies. You know I was, Star Wars when I was young.
I sat in the movie theater and watched Star Wars, and I just couldn’t believe that, that movie made me feel like that, just floored and just stunned by the creativity, and just I’m realizing that in order to move people in that way, in order to touch people in that way, you really got to focus with all of your fiber and all of your heart and all of your creativity.
#5: Work On Your talent
Interviewer: A lot of people talk about talent and they say, “Look you are multi-talented “and that’s why you’re a superstar.” You differentiate though, between talent and hard work.
“I’ve never really viewed myself as particularly talented.
“I view myself as, you know, “slightly above average in talent.
“Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic.
“You know, while the other guys sleeping, I’m working.
“While the other guys eating, I’m working.
“While the other guys making love, “well I mean, I’m making love too, but I’m working “really hard at it.”
Really hard at it!
I’m working really hard it!
Interviewer: So when the phone rings and you have an alarm goes off say, “Denzel Washington right now is hookin’ up.”, you got to go at it right now, right.
For me, man, it’s like the separation of talent, and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams that want to do things.
Talent you have naturally.
Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beatin’ on your craft. And, you know, for me, I feel like I have a relationship with the audience.
They agree that they’re going to go in droves, and I agree that every time they go, it’s going to be better than the last time.
So I think that’s part of the relationship and I’m going to hold up my part as long as they keep holdin’ up theirs.
#6: Improve Yourself
The concept of improving lives runs through the center of everything I do, and then I realized that the way to improve lives is to continually improve yourself.
So with that, every morning when I get out of the bed, I haven’t fixed everything in the world yet, so there’s always something to do, and in this film, I read an interesting quote, the Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, he said, “That good people have to get out of the “bed everyday and try to empty the ocean with a ladle.”
And I thought that was, you know, I knew that was profound, and I paused for a second and I said alright, “What the hell is a ladle?” Right, so then I touched it on my iPad, it’s ladle, oh, it’s like a big spoon, a big spoon, okay.
So tryin’ to empty the ocean with a soup spoon, you know, as the mentality of how you wake up every day to try to do good in the world.
So for me, I’m really driven by continually trying to elevate my mind and elevate my spirit and care for my body and to be able to love as many people as effectively as possible with this mystery of life that I’ve been given.
Thank guys so much! I hope you enjoyed! I’d love to know what did you learn from this artilce? What statement spoke the most to you, and how are you going to apply it immediately somehow in your life or in your business? Please leave it down in the comments below.
I also want to give a quick shout out to Surge Wisdom. Thank you so much for picking up a copy of my book, You One Word, and doing multiple reviews on your YouTube channel, going chapter by chapter by chapter. I really appreciate the support and I’m so glad that you enjoyed my book.
Thank you guys again for reading. I believe in you. I hope you’ll continue to believe in yourself and whatever your one word is. Much love. I’ll see you soon.
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