Will Smith’s Top 10 Rules For Success

Will Smith Willard Carroll Smith Jr. was born in Philadelphia, PA. His mother is a former school board administrator and his father was a refrigeration engineer. He attended Overbrook High School, and was admitted to a pre-engineering summer program at MIT. However, he had no intention of going to college as he already wanted to go have a musical career as a rapper. With his childhood friend Jeffrey Townes, they became DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. They won the first Grammy award in the Rap category.

In 1990, he appeared in a TV series built around his character. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was a successful NBC show that run for 6 seasons. It launched his acting career. He appeared in blockbuster movies one after the other. He held several movie records, such as the actor to have 8 consecutive films to gross over $100 million, 5 of which taking over $500 million. He had 11 consecutive films that gross over $150 million. As of 2014, his films has gross over $6.6B. Fortune Magazine listed him many times among the Richest 40 Americans under the age 40. Forbes ranked him as the most bankable actor in the world in 2013.

The 10 Rules For Success

Will Smith is a success story that people would love to read and hear. In this Top Ten Series from Evan Carmichael, Will shares in this YouTube video some of the principles and experiences in his life that made him successful and worth emulating.

1. Focus

Will Smith recalled when he watched the movie Star Wars for the first time, he did not believe it was possible for a movie to move people that much. When he decided to be a world-class movie actor, he understood that he needs a desperate, obsessive focus to excel on the movies that he would appear in. He realized that it was difficult to achieve success if he was doing multiple things. In order to be successful, he believed he needs to focus with all of his heart, his creativity, and all of the fiber of his being.

2. Improve Yourself

Smith stated that the concept of improving lives is a central principle in everything he does in his life. He also realized that one way to improve lives is to continually improve one’s self. Reflecting on the words of the Buddha, he stated that every day when he gets out of bed, he is continually driven to do what he possibly can to elevate his mind, elevate his spirit, and take care of his body to improve himself. He stated that in this way, he is able to love other people as effectively as possible.

3. Don’t Chase The Money

Will Smith stated that in his experience, when people do things for money, they make bad choices. However, when people do what they love, they learn how to make money doing what they love. He explained that when he changed career, he was not doing it to have more money, but he was doing it to do something he loved more. That is the way to keep the passion. He advised others that when given the choice, they should pick the one they loved doing more. If not, it will tear them apart.

4. Be Comfortable With Anything

Smith advised people that it is okay to be vulnerable in front of anybody. People should be comfortable looking silly or with making mistakes. He believed that when he allowed people to see what usually is uncomfortable, he also started to gain access to things that he did not realize he had access to. Especially in front of the camera, it is impossible to hide anything. So, people should be comfortable with anything, especially for him as an actor, having to do the roles he needed to do.

5. Laugh At Everything

Will recalled that there was a time when he was preparing for a role in a film when his father was diagnosed with a terminal disease. His father was given 6 weeks to live. However, his father lived for 4 months before succumbing to his illness. He remembered laughing with his father, who was embarrassed for telling people that he only had 6 weeks to live but was still alive after several months. He said that in looking at life, he was always trying to find the funny side of it. In that time of his life, it was helpful to him to remember to be ready to laugh at everything, and to be with people that makes him laugh.

6. Know That You Can

When giving an speech after accepting the 1999 NAACP Image Award for Entertainer of the Year, Will Smith recalled hearing his parents tell him that he can be whatever he wants to be. And he believed it, doing what he wanted to do in life. He went out and worked and talked with people believing that he deserved that opportunity just like anybody else. He then encouraged people listening, especially the children, to really believed it in their hearts that they can be whatever they want to be.

7. Provide Value

Smith tells his son Jaden that the greatest thing in his career was probably the commitment to constantly put something of value to the world. Looking good or making himself appear to the world as someone desirable was not his goal in life. So he advised his son that as long as he can focus to deliver his art, his self, his energy and ideas for the world to be better, he would have something great to look back on.

8. Live Life Without Fear

Will Smith suggested that people should take a daily confrontation with fear. He pointed out that fear is usually associated with lies. He recalled an experience of having to go skydiving. He told the audience how fearful he was the night before the dive, the drive to the airport, up to the point before jumping out of a plane. He then realized that immediately after jumping was a most blissful feeling. He found out that the point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear. There was no reason to be fearful prior to jumping off the plane. Fear just ruin people’s day. He believed that the best things in life are on the other side, with fear preventing people to go over.

9. Express Positive Energy

Smith once told reporters that he made a t-shirt with the words ‘positive energy is part of your job description.’ In describing his approach not only towards work but also life in general, he stated that he always express positive energy. The reason for this is that he believed that it is contagious. When he shows up for work expressing it, some of the people whom he meets may catch the positivity, and then brings it home to their families as well. So, it is important for him to express it at every time and at every turn.

10. Have Fun

Will Smith once stated that it was natural for him to go to comedy. When he appeared in the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, he was introduced three times, because after the first and second time, he told Fallon that the audience deserved a better entrance from him. After walking on the stage the first time, he then reappeared inside a huge plastic bubble on the second time, and appeared dancing onto the stage from something like a disco dance line from the 70’s show Soul Train.


Will Smith also had negative experiences. For instance, before transitioning to his acting career, he was nearly bankrupt for tax problems. However, he was able to rise up and became not only wealthy, but also someone people look up to. He learned life’s lessons, and he continues to aspire, to inspire, and give his best to people he encounters with or who is part of his industry. These rules can indeed give not only hope but also direction to people who aspires for similar success.

Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose is a subject matter expert and member of the writing team for Project-Management.com and Bridge24. He has written hundreds of articles including project management software reviews, books reviews, training site reviews, and general articles related to the project management industry.