Pouring bucket after bucket into the floor, he looked over to his brother and said “this hole is going to be here forever”.
Actor Will Smith is known for having an incredible career. People always ask him how he built the career he had and he tells them the same thing every time. Will has an incredible work ethic. He works 10 times harder than the people around him to get what he wants. It’s something that many people aspire to, but where did that work ethic come from?
When Will was 12 years old his father tore down the front wall of his shop. He left a hole in the side of his shop big enough to drive a whole fleet of buses through. Then his father rounded Will and his younger brother up in front of his shop and told them they had to rebuild the wall for him.
He asked a twelve year old and his little brother to build a wall.
Actually first he asked them to dig a hole below where the wall was to rebuild the foundation, and then to build the wall. It was an impossible job. Will was convinced he would be building this wall forever. They spent every day digging, mixing concrete by hand and laying bricks. They worked after school, and all through the summer. The work was slow, painfully slow. Will and his brother pressed on, and after 18 months. They finally laid the last brick in the wall. Will always explains he will never forget what happened next.
His father said, “Now don’t you all every tell me you can’t do something”. Without another word, his father walked back inside.
Will’s father put him through an excruciating amount of work. Most parents couldn’t imagine giving their kid that kind of task. It’s hard enough to get a kid to eat his vegetables and do well in school, and what about play time and socializing?
Your kids need to know what it feels like to struggle
They need to understand not everything can be achieved in a single effort. They need to realize that success can take months and years to realize. They need to understand that there are days where you put all your effort into something but don’t get anything back. There are days where progress is so small that it measure is indistinguishable. As Will explain’s it best, “You don’t build a wall with the mentality I’m going to build the best wall of all time. You have to show up everyday and decide that I am going to lay this next brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid.” If you do that every day, then in time those bricks add up to to the perfect wall.
It’s only from these herculean efforts that we understand we are capable beyond our own beliefs. Will Smith used that lesson to build an awe inspiring acting and rapping carrer.
Not every parent has a shop, and I’m sure even fewer are willing to tear walls down just to teach a lesson to their child. But every child is capable of far more than either you or they believe they are. As a parent and mentor it’s your responsibility to help them realize this for themselves. A child simply will not be able to achieve massive amounts of success without understanding this.