Arnold Schwarzenegger is my favourite human. Well, my favourite after a long line of friends and family. Let’s just say then that he’s definitely in my “5 people I’d love to have over for dinner” list.
But seriously, I really do like him, a lot. So much in fact that I named my cat in his honour.
Arnie is a brilliant role model for anyone starting to carve out their own story. So much of what he’s achieved has been done with people breathing down his neck saying it can’t be done. He was, by the popular definition, a success long before the bodybuilding and the movies. Yep, he was slaying his goals from the moment he knew how.
Arnie constantly inspires me to think bigger, work harder, test myself and be present.
The fact that he’s excelled at almost everything, from following his goal of immigrating to America and becoming the best there ever was in his sport, right through to being the Governor of California hasn’t been down to luck and while there’s so much that he’s said and done that I could cover, here are my top 5 lessons.
Understand your purpose and set big, big goals
ICYMI, I’m a big fan of goal setting and I believe everyone can achieve great things if only we all became clear on our purpose.
I remember hearing the fable of a man, who drove along a highway became lost. He stopped to ask for directions from a passerby and when the passerby asked him where he wanted to go he told the man that he didn’t know. The passerby answered, “then take any road because if you don’t know where you want to go then it doesn’t matter which road you take.”
Life is a little like that road. If we don’t have a vision and set some clear goals then we’ll end up drifting around never really fulfilling our potential. On that note, Arnie says to set your goals big. Real big. Shoot for the sky as It’s only in setting huge goals that we can achieve big things.
Trust yourself and don’t be afraid to fail
This one’s kind of a 2 for 1. They might be two of his rules but for me, one leads perfectly to the other.
How many hours have you spent daydreaming about the great things you’d love to achieve only to step back into your day to day rhythm and let them slide? We all have the potential to live a life beyond our wildest dreams, so why is it that so few of us actually go for it?
Most of the time when we’re not pushing our boundaries it’s because we’re afraid to fail. We might be afraid to invest our time or money into something that may or may not go anywhere. Maybe it’s that we don’t want to put ourselves out there for fear of being judged by others. Either way, there’s going to be failures and there’s going to be “naysayers” but if we were to let that stop us we’d never do anything.
Schwarzenegger said that when we’re afraid of failure we limit ourselves. He learned to get comfortable with failure being part of his growth and the path to achieving his goals. Take his body building. Every time he went for a heavier weight there was a chance he’d fail. But if he let that failure paralyse him then he would never have gone heavier and he would never have gotten bigger. Ultimately that would have cost him many of his successes.
“Trust yourself, dig deep down and ask yourself who do you want to be? Not what, but who.”
So don’t listen to the naysayers. Especially the biggest of them all — the one inside yourself. Just go for it, believe in yourself and allow failure be part of the process.
Use your passion to do good — Give back
Regardless of what you’re in to, there’s always an opportunity to use it to do good and make a difference to our world.
Arnie’s love for all things mind, body and soul has led him to not only invest in his own health, he’s also dedicated to changing the lives of millions through his charity After School All-Stars and the Special Olympics along with a whole swag of other charitable work and donations. Lets not forget also his work with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute and his cap on greenhouse emissions back when he was “the Governator.”
When we do good, we feel good and as Arnie says, “helping people will bring you more satisfaction than anything else you’ve ever done.” It doesn’t have to be financial, it could be time or other resources too.
At Sofia, it’s our mission to make a difference through learning and provide access to education for those who can’t get it. There’s a million and one other ways you can incorporate giving so find your passion and use it to give back.
Enjoy the journey
I remember a few years ago I fell out of love with exercise. I was on a mission to get as fit as I was “back in the day” and each time I headed for the gym, went on that run and dived into the ocean for a swim, it was with the sole purpose of getting fitter and getting results. When the results didn’t happen as hard or fast as I had hoped I got frustrated, focused more on results, less on enjoying the journey and ultimately saw exercise as a chore I needed to get over and done with as fast as I could.
It’s great to have goals and we should set them big (see above) but we also need to enjoy the journey to the finish line. Arnie once said that exercise is like meditation. Each time he lifts a weight he’s 100% present and focused on the feeling in the muscle he’s working. Most of us are more focused on the stop clock.
The problem is that when you’re wishing for the exercise to be over or for your company to be a success already, you’re really wishing big chunks of your life away. Life is precious, stop spending all of it focused on the finish line and be present. Enjoy the journey. Learn your lessons and grow bigger and better with each step.
Success doesn’t happen unless you put in the work
At the end of the day, there’s really no substitute for doing the work. If you truly want something then you’ve got to work for it. Put in the hours, make the sacrifices and challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone. See the goal at the end of the track and do everything that’s going to get you one step closer.
Remember the story of the British men’s eight rowing team, who after getting sick and tired of always coming up short decided that the 2000 Olympics in Sydney was their time to shine. With every action they asked the same question, “will it make the boat go faster?” With this in mind, they pulled off a true against all odds win at the Sydney Olympics and their story is now legendary.
The “will it make the boat go faster?” approach is the very same one used by Arnie. Yes, he works hard, but it’s calculated hard work bringing him a step closer to his goal with each passing minute of focus.
So there you have it, 5 perfectly shaped nuggets of inspiration gold. If you want more from the main man then I highly recommend checking out his book “Total Recall.” It both fascinating and incredibly motivating.
Until next time,