Tyler Perry – Know Your Intentions

Tyler Perry shares what he learned from his father, a carpenter, on how to build a foundation strong enough to support all of your dreams.


I ended up homeless. I ended up out in the street with no money and nothing to my name. But my intention was just to make enough money to be able to take care of my mother. That’s all I wanted to do. That was my goal.

I had written my first play. It’s called, “I Know I’ve Been Changed.” I put the show up, working, used car, bill collector, H and R Block tax return that wasn’t quite right but I got my money out of it. I thought 1200 people would show up that weekend, but only 30 showed up. My car payment, rent, everything was tied up it this, but I knew that that is what I was supposed to be doing. I knew that I was on a good foundation.

When I was growing up, my father was a carpenter. He would take me to work with him. And in the summertime, you know it was really hot, and I’d be out there with him and he’d be building these houses. And the part that I hated most about this was when we had to put in the foundation. It was painstaking digging these holes. Then you’d have to tie the steel. And after all that work was done, you just poured concrete over it.

And here’s the thing: nobody ever saw it. All that work was done and nobody ever saw it. No one ever cared about the foundation. The only time you hear someone talk about the foundation is when a house is falling apart. But when the foundation is done right, nobody mentions it. And when it’s done right, it can carry the weight of anything that it was designed to hold. What you were building had to be strong enough to support the weight of whatever you could dream. And if you are like me, you are a huge dreamer. You had to have a foundation that is big enough and strong enough and bold enough to hold all of your dreams and handle them coming true.

I need to warn you, it takes a while to build a dream. When you get out there in the world, I want you to remember something: what’s in the well will come up in the bucket. So today I want to challenge you to know your intention as to why you do what you do. And I promise you, if your intention is right, you will be successful.

But let me warn you what will happen when you’re successful because I don’t want you to get out there and get caught off guard. At first, you’re going to be celebrating. But when your success surpasses what your peers expect of you, then you will become a target. So now that you have set your attention, now that you have your foundation, let’s talk about how to stay on the course when the attacks come.

As an artist, this is the art that I want to paint. Just as I will never do it, don’t you ever change one brush stroke on your canvas because somebody doesn’t like what you paint. You have the foundation. Know your intention. Know that it’s not going to be easy. But just keep yourself on track. Know the value of what is already down in your well.