There’s a wall at my gym dedicated to the commencement speech given by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009 at USC. When it comes to bodybuilding there are few others who have had the success and longevity that Arnold has. As I sat resting between sets today I was really moved by what was quoted.
Arnold began by stating that he always wanted to be number one. He took this very seriously in his career. To be the best bodybuilder of all time. He emphasises commitment and intensity. How many activities do we approach with this mindset? In what do we want to be the best? This can be a huge challenge because it’s difficult to imagine yourself being the best especially when you think of the billions of people on the face of this earth. Then you think about the work that’s required. Think of the people you know. How many of them are working hard? How hard would it be to exceed their effort? Probably not that hard. Which brings me onto Arnolds 6 rules for success.
1 Trust yourself
So many young people are getting so much advice from their parents and from their teachers and from everyone. But what is most important is that you have to dig deep down and ask yourselves, who do you want to be? Not what, but who. And I’m talking about not what your parents and teachers want you to be, but you. I’m talking about figuring out for yourselves what makes you happy, no matter how crazy it may sound to other people.
I spent a lot of time by myself, so I could figure out and listen to what is inside my heart and inside my head. And I recognized very quickly that inside my head and heart were a burning desire to leave my small village in Austria.
Something burned inside me. I wanted to be different; I was determined to be unique. I was driven to think big and to dream big.
So this is rule number one. I wanted to become a champion; I was on a mission. So rule number one is, of course, trust yourself, no matter how and what anyone else thinks.
How often do we doubt what we really want? We question our desires and belief in ourselves. Comparing it with what we see on social media. This resonated deeply with me. Those with self-belief often go far despite their failings. How often do we see “idiots” in power, how can they be so deluded? Yet they succeed. This isn’t advice to be an idiot but to trust yourself and your ability.
2 Break the rules
It’s impossible to be a maverick or a true original if you’re too well behaved and don’t want to break the rules. You have to think outside the box. That’s what I believe. After all, what is the point of being on this earth if all you want to do is be liked by everyone and avoid trouble?
Those were their rules, not my rules. Never listen to that you can’t do something.
Arnold is talking about breaking the law but about challenging convention and set beliefs. Create your own rules to live by. This ties in with his own self-belief. This is how he challenged the norms of Hollywood and American politics. These “rules” he talks about are simply the set ideas people have. If you do everything according to the rules (set by someone else,) then you’ll get the same results most others get. If you want to stand out and succeed you need to bend these rules. Be brave.
3 Don’t Be Afraid To Fail
Anything I’ve ever attempted, I was always willing to fail. In the movie business, I remember, that you pick scripts. Many times you think this is a wining script, but then, of course, you find out later on, when you do the movie, that it didn’t work and the movie goes in the toilet.
So you can’t always win, but don’t be afraid of making decisions. You can’t be paralyzed by fear of failure or you will never push yourself.
You keep pushing because you believe in yourself and in your vision and you know that it is the right thing to do, and success will come. So don’t be afraid to fail.
This is my favourite point. This idea that you will have failures on the road to success is important to keep in mind as you face adversity. It’s easy to feel defeated when a friendship crumbles, or a job or a relationship. You can become fixated on this very point. It will haunt you if you let it. Always thinking “What if I did things differently?” These are learning experiences. When you are at the gym you are training. The whole point of training is to get better not to already be the best. We want to approach each experience as a chance to progress.
4 Don’t Listen To The Nay-Sayers
How many times have you heard that you can’t do this and you can’t do that and it’s never been done before? Just imagine if Bill Gates had quit when people said it can’t be done.
I love it when someone says that no one has ever done this before, because then when I do it that means that I’m the first one that has done it.
I remember my mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, when she started Special Olympics in 1968 people said that it would not work. The experts, the doctors that specialized in mental disabilities and mental retardation said, “It can’t be done. You can’t bring people out of their institutions. You can’t make them participate in sports, in jumping and swimming and in running. They will hurt themselves, they will hurt each other, they will drown in the pool.”
Well, let me tell you something. Now, 40 years later, Special Olympics is one of the greatest organizations, in 164 countries, dedicated to people with mental disabilities and that are intellectually challenged.
And she did not take no for an answer.
There will always be negative comments. This point is about following your calling, your dream. Maintain focus on what you believe in. He mentioned how the experts and doctors who specialized in mental disabilities said it couldn’t be done. This isn’t about ignoring advice but about staying true to yourself. Which brings me to point number five.
5 Rule Number Five: Work Your Butt Off
You never want to fail because you didn’t work hard enough. I never wanted to lose a competition or lose an election because I didn’t work hard enough. I always believed leaving no stone unturned.
Mohammed Ali, one of my great heroes, had a great line in the ’70s when he was asked, “How many sit-ups do you do?” He said, “I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. When I feel pain, that’s when I start counting, because that’s when it really counts.
No pain, no gain.
So many of those lessons that I apply in life I have learned from sports, let me tell you, and especially that one. It is important to have fun in life, of course. But when you’re out there partying, horsing around, someone out there at the same time is working hard. Someone is getting smarter and someone is winning.
Just remember that. Now, if you want to coast through life, don’t pay attention to any of those rules. But if you want to win, there is absolutely no way around hard, hard work.
I’ve always figured out that there 24 hours a day. You sleep six hours and have 18 hours left. Now, I know there are some of you out there that say well, wait a minute, I sleep eight hours or nine hours. Well, then, just sleep faster, I would recommend.
Just remember, you can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.
Most people who want what you want aren’t willing to make the sacrifices to achieve that goal. Anyone can work hard. Talented people can be beaten by those who are willing to work harder. I particularly like “sleep faster.” This is ironic considering the recovery a bodybuilder needs to grow but the point he is getting at is about reducing the time spent on needless activities. Chip away at the bigger goals.
6 Rule Number Six: Give Back
A very important rule: it’s about giving back. Whatever path that you take in your lives, you must always find time to give something back, something back to your community, give something back to your state or to your country.
Tear down that mirror. Tear down that mirror that makes you always look at yourself, and you will be able to look beyond that mirror and you will see the millions of people that need your help.
And let me tell you something, reaching out and helping people will bring you more satisfaction than anything else you have ever done.
Playing a game of chess with an eight-year-old kid in an inner city school is far more exciting for me than walking down another red carpet or a movie premiere.
On your path to whatever your dream or goal is, help others. No man is an island. We are all interconnected. Take the time and effort to help others. We spend so much time looking in the mirror and living inside our own heads, thinking about ourselves, figuring out ways we can get ahead. Treat others with respect and build them up. Take them with you on your rise to success. Have you ever heard “It’s lonely at the top?” Well not when you have others around you.
There isn’t a household in the world where Arnold Schwarzeneggers name is not known. Despite what you may think about his acting ability, it’s very difficult to argue with the success he’s achieved despite the obstacles that would have stopped many of us from even starting. This is a lesson in tenacity and self belief. Proof that your mindset governs all.