Denzel Washington – Fall Forward

By Lee W
(6 minutes read)

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

Denzel Washington

I found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks nothing 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 that told you to make sure you have something to fallback 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 passionate about take chances don’t be afraid to fail there’s a no like you test was 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 my just dreams Reggie Jackson struck out26 hundred times in his career the most in the history of baseball but you don’thear about the strikeouts people remember the homeruns fall forward Thomas Edison conducted1,000 failed experiments did you knowthat I didn’t know that because the1,000 and first was the light bulb fallforward every failed experiment is onestep closer to success you’ve got totake risks and I’m sure you probablyheard that before but I want to talk toyou about why that’s important you willfail at some point in your life acceptit you will lose you will embarrassyourself you will suck at somethingthere’s no doubt about itand I know that’s probably not atraditional message for a graduationceremony today I’m telling you embraceitbecause it’s inevitable in the actingbusiness you fail all the time early onin my career I auditioned for a part ina Broadway musical perfect role for me Ithought except for the fact that I can’tsing I didn’t get the jobbut here’s the thing I didn’t quit Ididn’t fall back I walked out of thereto prepare for the next audition and thenext audition and the next audition Iprayed I prayed and I prayedbut I continue to fail and fail and failbut it didn’t matter because you knowwhat there’s an old saying you hangaround the barbershop long enough sooneror later you’re going to get a haircutso you will catch a break and I didcatch a break last year I did a playcalled fences on Broadway but here’s thekicker he was at the Court Theatre itwas at the same theatre that I failed atfirst audition 30 years priorthe point is every graduate here todayhas the training and the talent tosucceed but do you have the guts to failif you don’t fail you’re not even tryingI’ll say it again if you don’t failyou’re not even trying to get somethingyou never had you have to do somethingyou never did its imagine you’re on yourdeathbed and standing around yourdeathbed are the ghosts representingyour unfulfilled potential the ghosts ofthe ideas you never acted on the ghostsof the talents you didn’t use andthey’re standing around your bed angrydisappointed and upset they say we cameto you because you could have brought usto life they sayand now we have to go to the gravetogether so I ask you today how manyghosts are going to be around your bedwhen your time comes[Music]I just got back from South Africa’sbeautiful country but there are placesthere with terrible parvat poverty thatneed help when Africa’s just the tip ofthe iceberg the Middle East needs yourhelpJapan needs your help Alabama needs yourhelp Tennessee needs your helpLouisiana needs your help Philadelphianeeds your help the world needs a lotand we need it from you we really do weneed it from you young people I mean I’mnot speaking for the rest of us up herebut I know I’m getting a little grayerwe needed from you the young peoplebecause remember this but you got to getout there you got to give it everythingyou gotwhether it’s your time your your yourtalent your prayers or your treasures[Music]what are you going to do with what youhave I’m not talking about how much youhave some of you are business majorssome of you are theologians nursessociologists some of you have money someof you have patients some of you havekindness some of you have loved some ofyou have a gift of long-sufferingwhatever it is whatever your gift iswhat are you going to do with what youhavealright now here’s my last point aboutfailure sometimes it’s the best way tofigure out where you’re going your lifewill never be a straight path I began atFordham University as a pre-med studentI took a course called thatcardiac morphogenesis I couldn’t read itI couldn’t say it that sure couldn’tpass it so then I decided to go intopre-law then journalism and with noacademic focus my grades took off intheir own direction I was a 1.8 GPA andthe university very politely suggestedthat it might be better to take sometime off I was 20 years old I was at mylowest point and then one day and Iremember the exact day March 27 1975 Iwas helping my mother and her beautyshop my mother owned a beauty shop up inmy Vernon and there’s there was thisolder woman who was considered one ofthe elders in the town and I didn’t knowher personally but I was looking in themirror and every time I looked throughthe mirror I could see her behind me andshe was staring at him she just keptlooking at me every time I looked at itshe kept giving me these strange looksso she finally took the dryer off herhead and says to some she said somethingI’ll never forgetshe said young boy I have a prophecy aspiritual prophecyshe said you are going to travel theworld and speak to millions of peopleand in the years that follow just asthat woman prophesize I have traveledthe world and I have spoken as demandsof people through my movies millions whoup til this day couldn’t see me I woundup till this day I couldn’t see while Iwas talking to them and they couldn’tsee me that only see the movie itcouldn’t see the real mebut I see you today[Music]and I’m encouraged by what I see and I’mstrengthened by what I seebecause taking risk is not just aboutgoing for a job it’s also about knowingwhat you know and what you don’t knowit’s about being open to people and toideas the chances you take the peopleyou meet the people you lovethe faith that you have that’s what’sgoing to define younever be discouraged never hold backgive everything you’ve got and when youfall through out light remember thisfall forward