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"What are you going to do with what you have?"- Denzel Washington

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“How many ghosts will be around your deathbed when your times come?”

My post does not do Denzel Washington’s commencement speech enough justice. In his speech, Washington addresses the University of Pennsylvania’s graduating class and encourages the graduates to not only take risks throughout their life but to leave everything they have on the field of life. Throughout the video, he provides his listeners vivid imagery to compel action and motivation from his audience. If every thought, idea, call for action, and/ or aspiration were a ghost, he asks the audience, how many of these ghosts would be upset at you for not acting on them and bringing them to life? Fear of failure is inevitable, whether we decide to pursue these inklings or not. Risks are not only worth taking but need to be taken. Failure is a possibility we cannot avoid; however, with every failed attempt we are closer to achieving our dreams. Failure is necessary as it sometimes points us in the direction we are meant to take.

Nothing in our lives is worthwhile unless we take these risks. Washington refers to the words of Nelson Mandela, explaining “no passion is to be found playing small and settling for less in life than the one you are capable of living.” Living big, reaching for our dreams is the only way to live a life worthwhile. While talking about our aspirations is an important first step into building our lives, it is critical that we put these words and ideas to use. We must practice what we preach.

I could not recommend listening to this speech enough. The video provides easy to read captions over top Washington’s audio. The only question I would like to leave you with is, “what are you going to do with what you have.”


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