First, the numbers.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has won 7 Mr. Olympia titles (the most coveted title in bodybuilding).
Movies that Arnold has acted in (of which there are over 40), have grossed a total $4.5 billion worldwide and, at one time, he was the highest paid actor in Hollywood, commanding $20 to $30 million per movie.
In 2003, despite being born in Austria and only becoming a US citizen in his 30s, Arnold was elected Governor of the state of California and then re-elected in 2006.
His net worth stands at around $450 million.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most successful people on the planet.
Furthermore, this success HASN’T come to him through luck.
Arnold clearly has a formula. There’s something about his mentality and attitude that has enabled him to succeed in three different disciplines, making him a perfect example to emulate for those desiring extraordinary success.
There are few better resources for this study than the recently released Netflix documentary, Arnold. Over the course of 3, hour-long episodes, Arnold discusses his life story and shares insights into his winning philosophy.
You could watch the documentary (and I thoroughly recommend it – for entertainment purposes as well). However, if you want the cheat sheet on becoming more like Arnold, then just read below.
Here are 7 ways you can emulate Arnold Schwarzenegger and win in life (all material taken from the Netflix documentary).
One of the most frequently repeated themes throughout the documentary is Arnold’s ability to visualise.
In the first episode, while talking about his early years as a bodybuilder, he says,
I saw my career in front of me. I saw myself on that Mr. Universe stage . . . and stand there with the trophy, and flex my muscles and I saw the thousands of people in the theatre screaming, “Arnold! Arnold!” It’s not a fantasy, it’s not a dream . . .you have to have a clear vision. And when you visualise something clearly, you believe 100% you can get there.
The message is clear.
DON’T HAVE A LAZY MIND.
Whether working out, or auditioning for a movie role, Arnold always visualised himself achieving the outcomes he desired. He understood the power of the mind/body connection and so should you.
Use every opportunity you have to visualise yourself succeeding and make note of the mini-goals you achieve along the way (Arnold mentions how, in the Athletik Union Graz – his first gym – he would mark on a blackboard every set he completed while working out).
Arnold doesn’t react like most people when an authority figure tells him he’ll fail. In fact, he seems to take a perverse delight in being told something can’t be done.
In the third episode, he says, “But the more someone says, ‘You can’t,’ or, ‘this is impossible,’ the more excited I get over it.”
Throughout his life, plenty of people have told Arnold “no.” The Austrian Army told him he couldn’t compete in the 1965 Junior Mr. Europe so he went AWOL and won. In the 1970s, Hollywood agents told him that it would be impossible for a 230-pound man with an unpronounceable name, and a thick accent, to ever be a movie star yet he went on to become one of the industry’s leading men.
Who’s telling you “it can’t be done” at the moment?
Irrespective or their power or status, perhaps you SHOULDN’T listen to them.
Arnold had a tough upbringing. He grew up poor and in a sometimes-abusive home.
This led his older brother, Meinhard, to become an alcoholic. Tragically, Meinhard died aged 25 after driving under the influence and crashing into a telephone poll.
While reflecting on this loss Arnold remarks, “The very thing that made me who I am today is the very thing that destroyed him.”
Meinhard was broken by the suffering he endured. For Arnold, it made him train harder at the gym and fight through the misery of being on his own in foreign countries. He rationalised that anything was better than where he came from and this gave him the fire to succeed.
How do you feel about your past? How unpleasant are your present circumstances?
They may, or may have been, incredibly tough. However, you have a choice over how you’re going to interpret these circumstances.
Are they going to be the thing that breaks you? Or, are they going to be motivation for never experiencing something similar again?
In the second episode, Arnold declares, “As soon as my emotions bother my training, I switch them off.”
This seems radical. In today’s world we’re told to express our emotions and feel justified in being outraged and anxious.
Arnold doesn’t agree. He says that,
When you are a person that has always a goal . . .the less time you have to think about, “How do I feel today? Am I depressed today? Do I feel sorry for myself? Have I become a victim? Oh my God, I feel so bad about myself.” I don’t have time for this crap. A lot times it’s people they don’t work enough. If you’re busy all the time, you don’t have time to think about this stuff.
I’ve witnessed hypnotherapy clients of mine become so overwhelmed, and engaged, in their anxieties that it completely shuts them down. And, while Arnold’s approach is a little extreme, there’s something to be said for not allowing your emotions to rule your life.
A focused mind, with a clear and meaningful goal to work towards, is likely two thirds of the cure for prolonged depression and sadness.
Don’t allow yourself to be sabotaged by the vagaries of how you feel.
One of Arnold’s favourite quotes comes from media mogul, Ted Turner, who famously said, “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.”
This is Arnold’s mantra. He was never shy about promoting himself, his movies or campaigning for office. While talking about his movie career he says,
You have to be involved yourself, you have to go in there and say, “here’s why you should see this movie.” It doesn’t matter if the other stars say no because they’re spoiled brats . . . We have to sell everything. No matter what you do in life, you have to sell it.
Arnold makes a great point. Don’t expect your work to sell itself. It probably won’t. Instead, be ready to meet as many people as possible, talk about what you do when appropriate and make your work seem appealing to others.
Arnold highlights one method for doing this during the second episode. He talks about using the schmae (a German word that roughly translates to “bullshit”).
In the 1977 documentary, Pumping Iron, he told the audience that getting a pump at the gym was as satisfying as orgasming during sex. We then see him during the 90’s, bragging about his cigar smoking, claiming he can do it wherever he likes and that he answers to no one.
He’s being brash and outrageous, courting attention yet doing it in a way that’s playful rather than offensive.
Can you do something similar? Can you exaggerate elements of your personality to get people to notice you and your work?
Daniel Zingale, a senior advisor to Arnold while he was Governor of California, was amazed at his capacity to enjoy what was a very serious and demanding role. He noted,
Another big difference between Schwarzenegger and the other governors I’ve known is how much joy he got from the job. And the “happy warrior” approach has a way of lifting up staff and lifting up the state.
It wasn’t just his work as a governor where Arnold exuded positivity. Despite having to put his body through gruelling, sometimes 5-hour long workouts during his 20s, he always had a smile on his face when in the gym.
Arnold insists that work should be fun and remarks, “Most people don’t know that. They worry and they work and they worry and they work. Where’s the fun?”
Can you change your attitude to your work?
Can you either find a way to make it more fun, or connect with the deeper meaning of your job so it’s no longer a chore?
Adopting this mindset can’t help but have an uplifting impact on those around you.
Perhaps the most surprising part of the documentary comes right at the end when Arnold remarks, “You can call me Arnie, you can call me snitzy, you can call me kraut, but don’t call me a self-made man, because I’m not.”
This is an astonishing revelation from someone who’s thought of as the uber example of a self-made man. However, as Arnold reels off a long list of people who’ve contributed to his success, you understand this status is a myth.
You then discover that one of Arnold’s greatest strengths is his ability to work with anyone.
While governor of California, he hired Sarah Kennedy (a Democrat) to work as his Chief of Staff (Arnold is a Republican). He also formed an allegiance with Democrat RFK Jr.
Arnold brings people together and doesn’t understand the concept of having enemies.
What about you?
Are you holding onto grudges, or prejudices, that are preventing you from working with people who could be significant to your success?
Let them go.
If Arnold, supposedly a man with one of the largest egos on the planet, can set aside petty differences for the greater good, then so can you.
If you want to discover a passion you can make a living from and overcome the fears that are holding you back, check out my free course 30 Days to Escape The System. Click here to get the course right now! (You’ll find the tips on developing belief and self-confidence fascinating!)
(Image Gage Skidmore flickr.com)