Bodybuilder, actor, businessman, politician and activist. Just a few of the roles held by one of my (childhood) heroes, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Whilst I knew a little about each of these pursuits, it wasn’t until I heard him speak in Edinburgh a few day’s ago, that I felt I knew the real Arnie.
Before we go any either further, I’d like to give a big shout out to Olexy Productions, for organising an AWESOME evening!
Schwarzenegger’s is a true rags to riches story and this blog will look at just some of the insights on success, he shared with us during his on stage interview about his incredible life.
1. Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
The first lessons learnt from Schwarzenegger is to ‘be comfortable being uncomfortable’. Living outside your ‘comfort zone’ goes with the territory when you run your own business – doing things that are unknown and maybe even a bit alien, but what about moving to a completely different country, on the other side of the world, without knowing anyone, or even speaking the language, carrying just one bag with all of your possessions in it, to pursue your dreams? To most, this sounds crazy; to Schwarzenegger, it was the only way to make it in bodybuilding and it’s what he did!
‘I finally arrived here in 1968. What a special day it was. I remember I arrived here with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of determination, full of desire.’
2. A Concrete Vision
Coupled with this, is having faith or belief in yourself, that what you’re striving for is possible, no matter the odds. Arnie spoke passionately about goals and claimed that one of the reasons he succeeded is that he had a concrete vision.
After he moved to America, Schwarzenegger became a “prolific goal setter” and would write his objectives at the start of the year, whether starting a mail order business or buying a new car, and succeed in doing so. Accountability is a must for us and we do goal setting with all of the businesses (‘Acorns’) we work with.
He shared a story with us, that as a teenager growing up in Austria and having just got into bodybuilding, he filled his bedroom with posters of bodybuilders, which is where he drew his inspiration from. However, it did result in some ‘awkward’ questions from his parents, who went as far to call a doctor to examine him! Thankfully the doctor explained to his parents that Arnie was ‘normal’ and was just fascinated by bodybuilding.
Sometimes outsiders looking in, even close friends or families, may see ‘obsessive’ tendencies, when it comes to us running our own businesses, however, this is also normal – a business is a passion, a lifestyle, even a ‘baby’ to some, and whilst others simply ‘don’t get it’ that’s ok.
3. Don’t Give Up!
Schwarzenegger also claimed that he had so many doubters, throughout his whole career. If he has listened to the naysayers, he would have stopped before starring in his first film (Hercules in New York, anyone?!). By having conviction in yourself, you are able to get past these negative comments to achieve your dreams.
As it happens, Hercules in New York was a massive flop, in fact, most of Arnie’s first few films were! In this film, he was credited as ‘Arnold Strong’, because no one could say his name, and his lines were all dubbed over by someone with an American accent!
He could have easily quit and done something else but he didn’t. He claimed that, ‘You learn more from your failures, than your successes’.
The Terminator spoke about the many challenges he faced during his fledgling acting career: ‘It was very difficult for me in the beginning – I was told by agents and casting people that my body was ‘too weird’, that I had a funny accent, and that my name was too long. You name it, and they told me I had to change it. Basically, everywhere I turned, I was told that I had no chance.’ He also claimed that, ‘most people fail because they quit when they get knocked down, I got right back up again’.
He shared a very funny story about his first day filming Conan the Barbarian, the film that many argue made Arnie the action icon he is today: there was a scene where he had to escape a pack of wolves that were chasing him, by claiming up a rockface. The director released the wolves seconds after Arnold started running away and they caught up with him easily, got him on the ground and started mauling him – the director took his time to pull the wolves off of a bleeding, downed Arnie and screamed at him, ‘now you know what it’s really like to be Conan – get stitched up so we can start filming again!’. Arnie thought to himself, ‘what the hell am I doing?!’ and questioned if this was really for him – thankfully he got back up and started filming again.
‘Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength’.
4. “Work Hard And Be Useful”
‘In the gym, there are no shortcuts to the perfect body, just lots of hard work. People are obsessed with finding the quick and easy way to do something but that isn’t the way to success’. Schwarzenegger also spoke fondly of his parents and shared the best piece of advice his dad gave him, ‘whatever you do son, work hard and be useful’. Arnie attributed a lot of his success to this simple mantra from his working-class father.
According to his Wikipedia page, Schwarzenegger was a millionaire before he was 30 years old and this is well before his acting career started. His financial independence came from his success as a fledgling businessman, with a series of successful business ventures and investments, such as: bricklaying, a mail order business selling bodybuilding equipment, real estate and more – he also invested in a chain of restaurants, with other Hollywood actors, called Planet Hollywood, which we’ll come back to shortly.
5. Know When to Say ‘No’
This is something we have covered in one of our previous blogs and it was interesting to here the Terminator’s take on it: know when to say ‘no’. He told us that he was originally approached to star in the film Face/Off, starring Nicholas Cage and John Trovolata. The plot being a detective infiltrates a gang by physically transplanting the face of the brother in the group, and using technology to match his voice – unfortunately, Arnie spotted a flaw in that something couldn’t be convincingly transplanted, his fairly distinct body shape so turned the role down!
Another example of knowing when to say ‘no’ or in this story, when to get out, relates to the Planet Hollywood chain of restaurants Arnold invested in, along with other celebrities. He severed ties in 2000, claiming it wasn’t he financial success he had hoped and wanted to focus on other things – therefore, there are times when ‘quitting’ is the right thing to do!
Arnie has had many lives rolled into one and the 69 year-old suggests no signs of stopping any time soon. For some the success lessons shared in this blog are ‘nice to read’ or ‘interesting to know’, however, for Schwarzenegger, they have been the foundations he has built and live his incredible life on.
Whether you know him as Arnie, the Terminator, The Governator or even the Austrian Oak (our favourtie nickname!), one thing is for sure, ‘he’ll be back!’