Notes on


by Will Smith

Focus on the next brick

Will and his brother had to help their dad build a wall. Naturally, being young, and the working on the project for over a year, are impatient and didn't want to do it anymore.

"It's impossible!" They said.

Their dad replied with this (paraphrasing): You don't think about the entire wall you have to build. There is only the brick in your hand. Lay that one brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid, that's all that matters.

Chop wood, carry water. Take it one step at a time.

Much of achieving your goals is about having the right perspective. If you think of the whole, it might feel insurmountable. But if you break it down, it's just another brick to lay.

Having a bad day? Show up anyway, and lay another brick.

Life is Learning

But here’s the reality—that’s what life is. Living is the journey from not knowing to knowing. From not understanding to understanding. From confusion to clarity. By universal design you are born into a perplexing situation, bewildered, and you have one job as a human: figure this shit out. Life is learning. Period. Overcoming ignorance is the whole point of the journey. You’re not supposed to know at the beginning. The whole point of venturing into uncertainty is to bring light to the darkness of our ignorance. I heard a great saying once: Life is like school, with one key difference—in school you get the lesson, and then you take the test. But in life, you get the test, and it’s your job to take the lesson.

Life is learning. We want to try to know everything before we start our journey. But the journey is where we gain the wisdom, the knowledge.

In life, you get the test, and you have to take the lesson.

Justified misery

If you don't have money or success, you can justify your misery because of it. But if you do, you might just realize that the problem is you.

Natural-destruction vs. self-destruction

There's a difference between natural destruction and self destruction.

If you truly gave something your all, but didn't quite make it, that's natural destruction. This is ok-it happens.

But if you didn't give it your all, you're fighting against both the universe and yourself-and the universe is hard enough. Don't do that to yourself.

What got you here won't get you there

Throughout life, we have to change and adapt. It's inevitable. If we try to fight it, we just might die—and it might be a slow death.

You have to "kill your darlings"—your best loved ideas—sometimes.

Winter is coming

Nothing lasts forever. No matter how hot the summer, winter is inevitable.

You have to plant the seeds for the next summer while you have the resources: while things are hot. And even better if you can time the harvest so it's ready when the old thing dies.


Throughout the book, Will mentioned some books that he read

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • Bhagavad Gītā As It Is
  • The Road Less Traveled
  • Don Quixote
  • The Untethered Soul
  • Teachings of the Buddha
  • The Odyssey
  • Moby-Dick
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • The 5 Love Languages
  • As a Man Thinketh
  • Oneness
  • Zen in the Art of Archery
  • Plato’s Republic
  • The Way of the Superior Man
  • Iron John
  • Aspire
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • The Power Path
  • Man’s Search for Meaning
  • How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind

Liked this post? Join the newsletter.