You might think you know everything about your favorite stars, but there's more to their lives than what we read in the glossy magazines. Every one of them has struggled and worked hard to succeed in life, and none have worked harder or been more successful than Will Smith.
After a huge hip hop career, starring in some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters of all time, and earning 2 Oscar nominations, the star shows no signs of slowing down.
We can all learn a lot from Smith, especially these 10 lessons about finding happiness and success in life.
1. Your circumstances don't define you
Will Smith was born and raised in West Philadelphia (yes, just like in the song) and didn't exactly have an easy life. The son of a school board administrator and a refrigeration engineer, Smith's parents started separating when he was 13, beginning a long, drawn-out split that went on until the actor was nearly 30.
But we know that a tough childhood only makes you an emotionally stronger person, and Smith has used the lessons he learned in that part of his life to help him become the success story we all know today.
2. Follow your passions
When Smith graduated from high school, his mother managed to secure him a spot in a summer program for pre-engineering students at MIT. While other kids might've jumped at this chance to study at a prestigious school, Smith passed.
He says he knew he "wanted to rap," and didn't want to waste time chasing another dream. Imagine how awful it would be if his parents had talked him out of his choice, or if he had let self-doubt stop him from chasing his dream.
3. Success doesn't solve your problems
Smith himself has said that "money and success don’t change people; they merely amplify what is already there," and that's a lesson he learned the hard way. His music career took off quickly, with hits like "Summertime" and "Parents Just Don't Understand," but Smith was spending his new money faster than he could keep up.
His bad habits caught up with him when the IRS took $2.8 million in back taxes from him. It just goes to show: you can't let success cloud your judgement.
4. Keep going, even when things seem hopeless
Today, we might only know Smith as a failed rapper if he ended his career then and there. Instead, he pursued a new dream - acting. He signed a deal with NBC to star in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when he was on the verge of bankruptcy, and of course the rest is history.
5. Set goals and stick to them
With his TV career taking off, Smith aimed even higher and decided to become "the biggest movie star in the world." By the time Independence Day became the highest grossing film in history in 1996, he had accomplished that goal. Your conviction and determination are nothing without something to reach for, and Smith proves you shouldn't be afraid to dream big.
“Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity," he once said. "Why would you be realistic. What’s the point of being realistic?”
Click to the next page to learn how Smith turns fear and doubt into success!
6. Work harder than anybody else
Did you know Will Smith is a world record holder? When his romantic comedy Hitch was released in 2005, he made a point of showing up to the movie's premiere in Manchester, Birmingham and London, England, all in just 24 hours. The star says that dedication to his fans and his movie studios has made him a success in the film business.
“I’ve never viewed myself as particularly talented," he said. "Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic. While the other guys sleeping, I’m working. While the other guys eating, I’m working.”
7. Give back to those less fortunate
According to celebritynetworth.com, Smith's film and music career have netted him $260 million, but he doesn't hesitate to share his wealth. He's supported dozens of charities through the years including the Red Cross, Stand Up To Cancer and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
He couldn't put it any simpler when he explained why helping others is such an important part of his life: "If you’re not making someone else’s life better then you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better."
8. Live with no regrets
As if being a talented actor and a great dad wasn't enough, Smith has mastered the life-changing art of letting go. He famously passed on his chance to play Neo in the hit film The Matrix, which went on to become a $3 billion global franchise. Still, the actor says he has "no regrets" about the decision, and even modestly says Keanu Reeves did a better job than he could have.
9. Embrace Fear
This story that Smith shared about his experience jumping out of an airplane in Abu Dhabi is hilarious - of course - but also a crucial lesson about the way we let fear cloud our judgement. Smith knows that "the best things in life are on the other side of terror."
10. Don't let other people drag you down
Throughout his life he was bound to have lots of people tell him to lower his expectations, to hope for less and to settle for second best, but Smith has never bothered to listen to those voices.
As his song "Just the Two of Us" says, “throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, because hate in your heart will consume you too.”
Share this advice with someone you know!