Denzel Washington — University of Pennsylvania (2011)

Denzel Washington — University of Pennsylvania (2011)


Words of Wisdom from Denzel Washington.

Denzel Washington begins his speech discussing failure and the importance of taking risks, like many of the other speakers on this list. His most unique and interesting point comes later in his speech when he talks about the notion of having something to “fall back on.”

Rather than underlie the importance of this cliché, Denzel offers an interesting, alternative perspective. Arriving at the central thesis of his speech, Denzel explains that if he is going to fall, he wants to “fall forward.”

Although at first this seems like it is simply an optimistic take on the traditional cliché, he then offers two anecdotes to illustrate his point and to really make it resonate with his audience. He, almost poetically, proclaims:

  • “Reggie Jackson struck out twenty-six-hundred times in his career, the most in the history of baseball. But you don’t hear about the strikeouts. People remember the home runs. Fall Forward.”
  • “Thomas Edison conducted 1,000 failed experiments. Did you know that? I didn’t know that because the 1,001st was the light bulb. Fall Forward.”
  • “Every failed experiment is one step closer to success. You will fail at some point in your life. If you don’t fail … you’re not even trying. Sometimes, it’s the best way to figure out where you’re going.”


May 3, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , ,

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