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Denzel Washington Tells Grads, 'Just Because You're Doing A Lot More, Doesn't Mean You're Getting A Lot More Done'

05/11/2015 01:11 pm ET | Updated May 18, 2015

Actor Denzel Washington gave graduates of Dillard University four pillars of advice on Saturday during his commencement address.

Washington's speech had heavy religious overtones, and was well-received among those in attendance at the historically black university in New Orleans. He broke his speech into four takeaways:

  1. Put God first: "Everything that I have is by the grace of God, understand that. It's a gift. ... I didn't always stick with Him, but He stuck with me."
  2. Fail big: "Don't be afraid to fail big, to dream big, but remember, dreams without goals, are just dreams. And they ultimately fuel disappointment. ... I try to give myself a goal every day, sometimes it's just not to curse somebody out."
  3. You'll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse: "I don't care how much money you make, you can't take it with you. ... It's not how much you have, it's what you do with it."
  4. While you're on your knees in the morning, say thank you: "Say thank you in advance for what is already yours. ... True desire in the heart for anything good is God's proof to you sent beforehand that it's already yours. ... When you get it, reach back, pull someone else up. Each one, teach one. Don't just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference."

Washington admitted some of his own imperfections as he doled out the advice, telling graduates that 40 years ago he was flunking out of college, with a 1.7 GPA. "I hope none of you can relate," he joked. Washington ultimately earned a bachelor's in Drama and Journalism from Fordham University in New York.

While he encouraged graduates to aspire to great things, Washington reminded them, "In this text, tweet, twerk world that you've grown up in, remember that just because you're doing a lot more, doesn't mean you're getting a lot more done."

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