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What’s in a name?

Will Smith and Mark Manson on 'Will'

By: Nobhongo Gxolo

Between the entanglement controversy and the Oscar slap, being meme-ified for awkward and uncomfortable personal-made-public moments. Will Smith, the award-winning actor, rapper, and film producer who has garnered reputable fame from endeavours in music and television has added author to his list of titles.

Co-authored with Mark Manson, the number-one New York Times bestselling author of Everything is F*cked: A Book about Hope and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life - the duo produced Will. A memoir running through five decades navigating Smith’s life through chapters like “Fear”, “Power”, “Ignorance”, “Alchemy”, “Desire”, “Inferno” and “Surrender”. 

Smith shares lessons learned and insights gained from heartbreaks and ecstasies he’s traversed in his lifetime. Contrasting experiences like his tumultuous relationship with his father to his ambitions, challenges and lessons around his own experience of fatherhood.  


“I’ve heard people say that a child’s personality is influenced by the meaning of their name. Well, my father gave me my name, he gave me his name [Willard Carroll Smith], and he gave me my greatest advantage in life: my ability to weather adversity.
He gave me will.”

This acknowledgement, which reads like pride, is juxtaposed with this one just sentences later:

“... I was afraid of my father.
When I was nine years old, I watched my father punch my mother in the side of her head so hard that she collapsed. I saw her spit blood. That moment in that bedroom, probably more than any other moment in my life, has defined who I am today.”

LifeCheq Book Club - In session

The second instalment of the LifeCheq Book Club was hosted on the 11th of April. Sessions are co-hosted by Communications practitioner and organiser of the award-winning food club, Third Culture Experiment, Nobhongo Gxolo and LifeCheq’s Head of Business Development, Grant Appel.

The discussion kick-started with weigh-ins about impressions of the Oscar incident contrasted with Smith’s revelations from the book:

“It was a bit out of character… After reading the book I felt like I understood why he did what he did, when he talks about himself, saying that he felt like he was a coward. When he told that story of his father beating up his mom, for me I cried. I was like - sjoe, these things can follow you into adulthood,” said one participant.

“Having read that first chapter about Fear. When that incident happened I felt he was finally standing up for the people that he loves - something that from childhood he felt was something he was unable to do because of being a coward and being fearful… That slap [came] full circle. He’s trying to correct the things he was unable to correct in his life - not being able to protect the people that he loves,” an attendee commented.

While another referenced the initial comment saying, “I actually feel like it was in character. In the book… he would do something silly, act out without thinking, and reflecting on it he’d [acknowledge that] this is where I acted out. He’s a very emotional person.”

Wrapping it up

Human behaviour is a broad spectrum with a myriad of thoughts and actions influenced by deeply established nature and nurture factors. Will, is a book that delves into some of these influences, from friends and family, to ambitions and dreams, to love and loss and a whole lot inbetween.  

Join the next LifeCheq Book Club Session on Monday the 20th of June where we’ll be reading The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness - by Morgan House.

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