July 8, 2021

45 Denzel Washington Quotes to help us “Fall Forward” in Life. 

I have listened to Denzel Washington’s commencement speech, Fall Forward, at the University of Pennsylvania many times.

In his speech, he talks about an old woman approaching him at a salon. She tells him a prophecy that he’d influence the world.

Denzel says, “And then one day—and I remember the exact day: March 27th, 1975—I was helping out in the beauty shop my mother owned in Mount Vernon. An older woman who belonged to my mother’s church, one of the elders of the town, was in there getting her hair done and kept giving me these strange looks. She finally took the drier off her head and said something to me I’ll never forget:

‘Young boy,’ she said. ‘I have a spiritual prophecy: you are going to travel the world and speak to millions of people.'”

Well, Denzel Washington has inspired millions of people with his movies and activism. His speech about making a fool of yourself in risk-taking, persistence, and resilience is one of my favorites.

He struggled to figure out what he wanted out of life, just like anyone else. But he kept to his authentic spirit and found acting. He had a gift. From “Malcolm X” to “Fences,” he’s known for playing characters with dignity and humanity, as well as inspiring us to ask questions about ourselves.

When you read these quotes, remember to “fall forward.” We will fall down many times in life, but it’s how we get back up that defines us. It’s what we give back that brings us peace of mind.

Here are 45 quotes by Denzel Washington to give you more drive:

“If I am a cup maker, I’m interested in making the best cup I possibly can. My effort goes into that cup, not what people think about it.”

“You have to grab moments when they happen. I like to improvise and ad lib.”

“I played Othello, but I didn’t sit around thinking how Laurence Olivier did it when he played it. That wouldn’t have done it any good.”

“The time to worry about flying is when you’re on the ground. When you’re up in the air, it’s too late. No point in worrying about it then.”

“I say luck is when an opportunity comes and you’re prepared for it.”

“You pray for the rain, you gotta deal with the mud too. That’s part of it.”

“If you have an enemy, then learn and know your enemy. Just don’t be mad at him or her.”

“The poorest people are the sweetest people.”

“My mother never gave up on me. I messed up in school so much they were sending me home, but my mother sent me right back.”

“At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about what you’ve done with those accomplishments. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.”

“Old man’s gotta be the old man, fish has gotta be the fish. Got to be who you are in this world, no matter what.”

“Don’t aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.”

“The chances you take, the people you meet, the people you love, the faith that you have. That’s what’s going to define you.”

“So you never know who you touch. You never know how or when you’ll have an impact, or how important your example can be to someone else.”

“Success? I don’t know what that words means. I’m happy. But success, that goes back to what in somebody’s eyes success means. For me, success is inner peace. That’s a good day for me.”

“If you want to be a warrior, you have to train.”

“Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to fail big, to dream big.”

“There are two kinds of pain in this world. The pain that hurts, the pain that alters.”

“Never confuse movement with progress. Because you can run in place and get nowhere.”

“We do what we have to so we can do what we want to.”

“Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”

“When you don’t understand something, you label and condemn it.”

“I’m very proud to be black, but black is not all I am. That’s my cultural historical background, my genetic makeup, but it’s not all of who I am nor is it the basis from which I answer every question.”

“Dreams without goals remain dreams.”

“You only live once so do what you feel passionate about.”

“Give other peoples’ opinions their right significance. Take advice if it is constructive, and learn from it. But do not build your life based around the opinions of others. Trust yourself and trust your choices.”

“Faith will get you to a point. Luck will get you to a point. But to achieve the kind of success you dream about, you need to WORK. There are no shortcuts, you can’t cheat life, just get to work and don’t stop until you reach your highest potential.”

“Never compromise on who you are. You are born with the capacity to achieve greatness if you so desire. Learning to say no is a critical element to accessing that greatness. Your choices will define you; so make them the right ones.”

“If you don’t fail, you’re not even trying.”

“Nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. Fall forward. Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”

“When you do good, you get good! Fulfillment comes from serving others, not just hustling to serve yourself. On the path to success, there is always going to be an opportunity to help someone else be successful too. Take that opportunity, and be the kind of person who makes a difference in the lives of others.”

“In order to change your life, you must change your thoughts.”

“Life is a melting pot of knowledge and experience, both your own and that of everyone around you. Don’t be afraid to learn from others mistakes, and take bits of useful information or ideas that help you get better at what you do. Wisdom is there at your fingertips, use it.”

“The only thing stopping you from achieving your dreams are the stories you keep telling yourself that you can’t. Don’t wait—act now. Regret nothing.”

“I think a role model is a mentor—someone you see on a daily basis, and you learn from them.”

 “Dreams are great. In fact, dreams are necessary in life or no one would ever go anywhere! But a dream without a goal, and without action, has no opportunity to come true.”

“There is a lot of joy to be found in reflecting upon your experiences as you work towards your dreams. Learn to laugh at your failures, smile at your wins, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.”

“I’d be more frightened by not using whatever abilities I’d been given. I’d be more frightened by procrastination and laziness.”

“It doesn’t matter if you flip burgers, bricks, or houses. Just don’t sit on your ass all day flipping channels.”

“Some people will never like you because your spirit irritates their demons.”

“Stay away from ‘still’ people. Still broke. Still complaining. Still hating. And still nowhere.”

“With so many things coming back in style, I can’t wait until morals, respect, and intelligence become a trend again.”

“We live in a time where people give up too easy.”

“I’ve found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks.”

“What it taught me was forgiveness. It taught me that when people present themselves in a certain way, there’s probably some back story or issue or reason for the way that they are. It’s not you. It’s them. And a lot of times, its about something that’s completely out of their control.”

Read 4 Comments and Reply

Read 4 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Sarah Jeanne Browne  |  Contribution: 12,245

author: Sarah Jeanne Browne

Image: El Hormiguero Follow/Flickr

Editor: Juliana Otis