“I called Sidney [Poitier] … and I told him, ‘Man they are offering me 600,000 dollars to play ‘The Nigga They Couldn’t Kill’. He said, ‘I’m not going to tell you what you should do. I won’t tell you what to do, Denzel. But I can tell you this: the first two or three or four films you do in this business will dictate how you are perceived – in this business. So, you make a decision.’ He didn’t tell me what to do and I give him credit for that. So I turned it down and six months later I got “Cry Freedom”, and got an Oscar nomination. It could have gone a totally different way. My whole career could have gone an entirely different way.” – Denzel Washington
- YOU NEED A MENTOR: formally or informally. Feel free to reach out to that woman or that man who has already walked the path you’re choosing and found some success. If someone, who has credibility and proven success in a career or project, has commended you and shown interest in your success please seize the opportunity to rise higher. Tap into their wisdom and knowledge. They can help you avoid pitfalls on your way. Just one word, one conversation, one email, or one phone call, from a key person can lift you higher than any amount of your own networking and change your life for the better, forever. (By the way: “a mentor” can be someone above you, someone beside you or someone “below” you.)
- DON’T FEEL SO BIG, TOO LAZY or TOO PROUD: Reach out to that brother or sister who has achieved, who means well, and who is willing to help you rise. The worst that can happen is they ignore you or say no. You may even have to persist and persevere purposefully without being a pest before you get their engagement. Some of them mean well and would be ready to give you a lift or helping had along the way to your great success. You can still learn from them from afar – through their stories, their Facebook or Social Media pages and their books. There is nothing wrong when you have to stand on the shoulders of the great ones.
- STAY TRUE – HAVE FAITH: When a seemingly good offer/opportunity goes against your deepest beliefs in fairness, decency, meritocracy, and humanity, then reconsider carefully and choose right. It is often said, ‘All that glitters is not gold’. Denzel turned down this tempting early offer that could have constrained his career. Not all opportunities that come your way will lead you to your destination. Learn, with faith, wisdom and prayer, to say NO to whatever will not lift you up.