Colm Holland-Blog

WILL by Will Smith - Colm Holland review.

WILL by Will Smith with Mark Manson A review by Colm Holland, publisher of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and author of The Secret of The Alchemist.

Spoiler alert! I am about to reveal the true heart of the message that Will Smith really wants to convey to his readers in his very revealing autobiography, ‘WILL’. If you prefer to find out what that is for yourself then don’t read my review. And yet, if you have decided his life story is not something that deserves your attention, then what I am about to tell you here could change your mind.

I confess, even though I have enjoyed being entertained by Will over many years, I would probably not have begun to read Will’s memoir apart for one thing: a YouTube video I came across some years ago, where in an interview, Will said his life was transformed by reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. As the original publisher of that book and the author of the #1 book critiquing it; The Secret of The Alchemist. For that reason I was intrigued to see what Will had to say about that experience in his book.

I’ll let Will tell you his story, but I will reveal his conclusion.

On page190, he says ‘I wanted to be an alchemist, too. I wanted to be able to transform anything and everything that life gave me into gold.’

He made that discovery almost twenty years ago and when you read his memoir, it is full of stories of his adversity beating ‘Will-power’, set against the obstacles to be overcome and recovered from. Will has also created his fair share of collateral damage to his own wellbeing and to those he loves along the way. But even so, in the sense of achieving your chosen goals against all the odds, Will can easily self identify as an alchemist; but that’s not the full story.

Being able to turn the lead in your life into gold as measured by your ability to achieve success artistically, financially and by your celebrity status is only one side of the alchemy gold coin; the ego facing side as I call it. The other side of the same coin, the shadow side, is the least attractive side, and we see Will in the telling of his own story or ‘personal legend’ trying to be as open and reflective about that side of himself as he can. However, he keeps the reader waiting until the last three chapters to discover when and how he began to put in the hard work of inner transformation that alchemy requires to transform his whole self into gold.

Personal transformation is hard work because the ego has to surrender (this is the title of a chapter towards the end), and then the new self has to learn to self love so he can love others unconditionally (Love is the title of the penultimate chapter.) This cannot be done without the ego wanting to visit the unconscious of the personal psyche and yes, Will does seek the aid of a Jungian psychoanalyst to help him on this part of his inner journey.

I’ve decided I won’t spoil your discovery of how Will finally manages to break the grip of his cast-iron ego, and how he began to unearth the contents of his unconscious, except to say that for all the external adoration and criticism in his life, he finally realises that it’s his lack of inner self love and the destructive power of his own self judgement that has stood between him and unconditional love.

As you may know, Will is deep in the production of a film version The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and based on what we see in the final chapters of his memoir, I suspect that as a producer and actor, Will will bring his full alchemical insight into the movie.

Life is not a game of who wins or who loses, it's about who is prepared to put in the hard work of going beyond the power of the ego to loving the deepest, least attractive parts of ourselves, so we can become the unconditional love the world needs to transform. If that is how we can self identify as an alchemist.

Like Will Smith, we are all alchemists when we commit to becoming our better future self.


WILL by Will Smith is now available in all good stores