RD: You and Jada have been married nine years and, by all accounts, are very happy. What’s the key?
Smith: Communication. And divorce cannot be an option.
RD: Your first marriage ended in divorce.
Smith: That is probably the most painful loss of my life. I quit. I could have fixed it. It really was not that bad.
RD: Some would say there’s no reason to stay if a marriage isn’t good.
Smith: Once you say that, you’ve lost. With Jada, I stood up in front of God and my family and friends and said, “Till death do us part.” So there are two possible outcomes: We are going to be together till death, or I am dead.
RD: But people do have problems in marriage.
Smith: Jada and I have problems; everybody has problems. People ask, “What happens if you made a mistake?” Well, you should be a little more careful before you stand up in front of God and your family and friends and say, “Till death do us part.”
RD: Has your success surprised you?
Smith: For a long time now, I have been beyond anything that I ever dreamed. I just put my head down and run hard, and I am almost always surprised when I look up and see where I am.
RD: So getting to where you are is all just about running hard?
Smith: Most people you are going to be in competition with are not gonna give 100 percent. If you catch a bad day, you are going to run up against somebody willing to do 87 percent. You’re still going to win. If you happen to run up against Michael Jordan, you are going to be better for losing. In one of my songs, I write, “The key to life is on a treadmill. I’ll just watch and learn while your chest burns. Because if you say you are going to run three miles and you only run two, I don’t ever have to worry about losing something to you.” When I say I am going to run three miles, I run five. With that mentality, it is actually difficult to lose.
RD: You work harder than the next guy?
Smith: I consider myself to be of basically average talent, right? What I have that other people do not have is a sick, obsessive, raw animal drive.
RD: Do you get tired of pushing?
Smith: Not yet. There is no pain worse than not achieving a dream when it is your fault. If God did not want you to have it, that is one thing. But if you do not get what you desire because you are lazy, there is no pain worse than that.
RD: Have you always been a runner?
Smith: I started about five years ago. Running introduces you to your worst enemy, to that person who tells you, “Ooh, our ankles hurt and we should stop. Why do we need to run five miles? Let us run three.” That is the same person who says to the man, “Hey, your wife will never find out if you sleep with her,” and the same person who tells the 16-year-old, “You are not gonna be cool if you do not smoke it.” If you start giving in to that person, you will never get to your goals.
RD: Are you the most driven person you’ve ever met?
Smith: No. That’s Michael Jordan.