We've all seen him in the movies. We've heard his music. Some of us first discovered him on television. But now, as the new interview with Scott Raab in the current issue of Esquire makes clear, Will Smith has become a philosopher.
Reflecting on his career, he describes something that many of us have felt.
I always thought there was some place I was going, that there was some success or some achievement or some box-office number that was going to fill the hole. And what I realize is that life is a hole. It's a process of continually trying to find and reinvent myself. I'm the type of person who is always going to be somewhat dissatisfied with myself. I'm never going to be smart enough. I'm never going to be a good enough father. I'm never going to be a good enough husband. I'm never going to be a good enough actor for myself. I just never will be, and I have to get comfortable with waking up every day and trying to move some little increment closer to the person I have always dreamed of being.
Lesson Number One: Even being a huge star and celebrity, with great wealth and social power won't complete us. Yeah, we knew that. But we have to be reminded, now and then, to keep us from fruitlessly chasing our own versions of this, in our own efforts to "fill the hole."
Later on, he talks about a movie that failed at the box office and what he felt when he got the very bad numbers.
And that Monday started the new phase of my life, a new concept: Only love is going to fill that hole. You can't win enough, you can't have enough money, you can't succeed enough. There is not enough. The only thing that will ever satiate that existential thirst is love. And I just remember that day I made the shift from wanting to be a winner to wanting to have the most powerful, deep, and beautiful relationships I could possibly have.
Lesson Number Two: If we define success in isolation from love and relationships, we'll never be satisfied or happy. We need to start at the core of who we are as human beings. And that core is supposed to be all about love. When we use that as our foundation, we can build a life that matters and a success that's not only real, but that feels deep and true and fulfilling.
A friend of mine named Matt Ham has just written a book all about that. It's called Redefine Rich, and is well worth a read. It offers a diagnosis and a reminder that we all need.
Love first. All else, second.