Five Powerful Lessons From Denzel Washington’s Speech

Denzel Washington is a global phenomenon. He’s has won two Academy Awards, three Golden Globes and is worth over $150 million.

But few know how he has risen like a phoenix from his own ashes.

No, seriously.

In his early twenties, Denzel worked as a garbage man and a postman simultaneously to make ends meet. He told the Hollywood Reporter, “You have eight hours worth of work, but you can do it in three. Then you come back home. Post office, you have three hours, and you can make it Class A. I did both. I liked being the garbage man better”.

He didn’t complain about being poor. He worked hard. 

denzel washington's speech

Here are some timeless lessons from Denzel Washington’s speech.

1. Believe in Your Gift

“True desire in your heart, for anything good, is God’s proof to you, sent beforehand, that it’s yours already.”

We all have dreams. But at some point in life, we compromise. We take jobs we hate to have a certain social status. We stop believing in our dreams. We settle.

Denzel Washington says that your dream is already yours. You just have to work for it. Whether you call it God, energy or anything else. It keeps tugging us inside. This is God’s way of showing you the right direction.

Believe. This is the most important lesson from Denzel Washington’s speech.

2. Goals Matter

“You have these dreams. Dreams without goals remain dreams and fuel disappointment.”

Goals serve as an anchor to your dreams. If you reach one goal at a time, you can create breakthrough change. That’s why it is important to have daily, monthly and yearly goals. Goals help you make decisions too. Whenever you have to make choices, you can choose the one which is more aligned with your goals.

As Denzel Washington says, “dreams without goals are just dreams.”

denzel washington's speech

3. Need for discipline

“The gap between goals and achievement is taken by discipline and consistency.”

Goals can only be achieved by discipline and consistency. You need to respect your dreams enough to have discipline. The hardest workers work 100+ hour work weeks. Because they love what they do.

But I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Discipline comes easy when you love what you do. When you surrender to the pull inside you, rather than pushing hard to achieve what you don’t want inside.

You need to control your mind to realize what lies in your heart.

4. Make a difference

“We all have that unique gift, to touch people, to affect people. Understand that gift.”

Denzel says that we all can change each other’s lives in some way or the other. Even the garbage man is changing your surroundings to make them habitable.

Listen to the voice that speaks to you. What does it say? How can you change people for the better? Are you a tech wizard who can make useful apps? Are you a music lover who can melt hearts with his words? Are you a painter who creates jaw-dropping art? Who are you really?

Figure it out. Talk to that voice every single day. Write what you hear in your journal. And I promise you, you will know the greatness within you.

5. Don’t chase money

“I have made hundreds of dollars in my life. And I can’t take it with me. It’s not what you have. But what you do with what you have.”

Denzel shows how lame greed is. You can not take money to your grave. In his commencement speech at Dillard University, Denzel said, “You’ll never see a U-haul behind a hearse. The Egyptians tried it. It didn’t work.”

So don’t just live for money. Live for something greater than yourself. For that will determine not only how you live, but also how you die. And nobody wants to die with regret in their heart.

So what did you learn from Denzel Washington’s speech? Share with us in the comments.

7 Responses

    • Linda

      All I can say is that Denzel Washington is the best human being that’s ever walked this Earth. He has so much wisdom within him, its actually crazy.

  1. Mike Jones

    So much respect for Denzel Washington! Finest Actor of all times! These lessons are really motivating and show us the positive side.

  2. Adriana gherine

    I am from România and i am so impressed by his speech.. He is very right very profund very dumnezeiesc de adevărat.. Good bless you denzel..

  3. Albert

    My, My, so good, I’ve been listening this speech for 3 straight days, in three words…. A MA ZING¡¡¡


    I’m mostly encouraged by every words from your experiences you’ve past, throughout life. it’s motivate me to keep seeing that there will be light at the end of the tunnel.. I would love to see you some day in person and share my some life testimony. When i finally get it achieve partially.


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