Powerful Motivational “Dream Big” Speech Given by Denzel Washington

This is a powerful motivational speech given by Denzel Washington, a renowned actor and director. The motivational speech for students by Denzel is believed to have been delivered at a university graduation ceremony.

Denzel Washington primarily talks about the inevitability of failure and the significance of taking risks, emphasizing the importance of resilience, perseverance, and a proactive attitude towards failure.

Throughout the speech, Denzel Washington encourages listeners to face failure head-on and learn from it, rather than avoiding it. Denzel Washington also discusses the concept of ‘falling forward,’ which means using each failure as a stepping stone towards success. He encourages his audience to dream big, be open to new ideas, and continually strive for improvement.

Denzel Washington Speech
Denzel Washington Speech

Embrace Risks and Live Fully

Denzel Washington Motivational Speech – Nelson Mandela once said, “There is no passion to be found playing small in settling for a life that’s less than the one you’re capable of living.” Indeed, nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks.

I’m sure you’ve been told throughout your experiences in school, applying to college, deciding what you want to do with your life, to have something to fall back on. But I’ve never understood this concept.

If I’m going to fall, I don’t want to fall back on anything. I want to fall forward. At least this way, I’ll see what I’m going to hit. Without consistency, you’ll never finish. So pursue your passions, take chances, and don’t be afraid to fail.

Think Outside the Box

There’s an old IQ test with nine dots, and you had to draw five lines with a pencil within these dots without lifting the pencil. The only way to do it was to go outside the box. So don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Don’t be afraid to fail big, to dream big. But remember, dreams without goals are just dreams. Reggie Jackson struck out 2600 times in his career, the most in the history of baseball.

But people remember the home runs, not the strikeouts. Similarly, Thomas Edison conducted 1,000 failed experiments. The 1,001st was the light bulb. Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.

Embrace Failure

You will fail at some point in your life. You will lose, you will embarrass yourself, you will be bad at something. It’s not a traditional message for a graduation ceremony, but it’s the truth, and I urge you to embrace it because it’s inevitable. In the acting business, you fail all the time.

I auditioned for a part in a Broadway musical, a role perfect for me, I thought, except for the fact that I can’t sing. I didn’t get the job. But I didn’t quit, I didn’t fall back. I continued to audition and pray.

I continued to fail. But it didn’t matter because you know what? If you hang around the barbershop long enough, sooner or later, you’re going to get a haircut. You will catch a break.

Have the Guts to Fail

Last year, I performed in a play called “Fences” on Broadway at the Court Theater – the same theater where I failed my first audition 30 years prior.

Every graduate here today has the training and the talent to succeed. But do you have the guts to fail? If you don’t fail, you’re not even trying. To achieve something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.

Unfulfilled Potential

Imagine being on your deathbed, surrounded by the ghosts of your unfulfilled potential. The ghost of the ideas you never acted on, the ghost of the talents you didn’t use, standing around your bed, angry, disappointed, and upset.

They say, “We came to you because you could have brought us to life, and now we have to go to the grave together.” How many ghosts will be around your bed when your time comes?

The World Needs You

I recently returned from South Africa. It’s a beautiful country, but there are places there with terrible poverty that need help. And Africa is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Middle East needs your help. Japan, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, Philadelphia – they all need your help. The world needs a lot, and we need it from you, the young people.

Get out there, give everything you’ve got. Whether it’s your time, talent, prayers, or treasures, do something meaningful with what you have.

The Gift of Failure

Sometimes, failure is the best way to figure out where you’re going. Your life will never be a straight path. I began at Fordham University as a pre-med student.

After struggling with a course called Cardiac Morphogenesis, I decided to shift to pre-law, then journalism, and with no academic focus, my grades went in their own direction.

When I was at my lowest point, an older woman prophesied that I would travel the world and speak to millions of people. In the years that followed, I did travel the world, and I did speak to millions of people through my movies. Millions who couldn’t see the real me, but they could only see the movie.

Stay Open and Take Risks

Taking risks isn’t just about going for a job. It’s about knowing what you know and what you don’t know. It’s about being open to people and ideas.

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. Never be discouraged. Never hold back. Give everything you’ve got. And when you fall throughout life, remember this: fall forward.

WATCH THIS EVERYDAY AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE – Denzel Washington Motivational Speech 2023


Life is not a straight path, and it doesn’t promise an absence of challenges or failures. Instead, it assures us that every step, be it stumbling or striding, leads us somewhere.

Thus, we must not fear to dream big, take risks, and fall forward. For in the process of doing so, we are learning, evolving, and inching closer to our goals.

And while we do this, we must never forget to use what we have, our talents, time, patience, love, and resources, to help those in need. For it’s in giving that we truly live and succeed.

Stay Positive Stay Blessed

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