Arnold Schwarzenegger — Business & Life Lessons
The life of Arnold Schwarzenegger is a wonder to behold, from immigrant to Hollywood film star to the Governor of California, there certainly isn’t much that can stop this man! If you’re willing to become successful, you cannot get rid of the business & life lessons straight from Arnold Schwarzenegger — the well-named Governator — himself.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is far from a superhuman. He’s simply a man with a dream.
He realized early on that in order to reach his desired destination, he would need to become a different being entirely. Over the course of his life, Arnold achieved far more mentally than he did physically.
Like most people, I assumed for a long time that Arnold Schwarzenegger was just a dumb gorilla whose success and fame was mainly due to luck.
I couldn’t be more wrong. The truth is that you don’t make it out of post-war Austria and build a successful career in bodybuilding and cinema and eventually politics without a strong sense of purpose and an iron discipline.
Long story short, Arnie had the ability to channel his ambition and correspond it in relation to his work ethic.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the ultimate example of someone who built a vision for what he wanted to achieve, created opportunities, and surpassed expectations throughout his life. While it’s easier said than done, success leaves clues. Specifically, the way Arnold approaches situations, obstacles, and challenges is a masterclass in mental preparation, visualization, maximum effort, and mastery.
And truth be told, those who live like Arnie — usually have the best stories to tell.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a real rags to riches story, from a small town in Austria to becoming a household name. So what makes Arnold Schwarzenegger such an amazing individual and what can we learn from him? Here are 7 outrageous business & life lessons on success I learned from the Terminator.
Lesson #1: Keep Your Eyes on The Prize
After he moved to America, Arnold Schwarzenegger became a prolific goal setter. He would write his objectives at the start of the year: whether starting his mail order business, winning bodybuilding competitions or making it as Hollywood’s leading man. And he achieved all of these!
Success means different things to different people.
Some people define it by money, others by achievement and recognition, others still by experiences or freedom to accrue them. Whatever the case, it’s important to know what success means to you and how to define or quantify it so that you’re not stumbling aimlessly. Before you can reach a goal, you must first know what it is.
Where is your career going? Arnold Schwarzenegger knew at the tender age of 15 that he wanted to be the best.
He wanted to win the Mr. Olympia contest, and this vision helped him succeed in his quest to being perhaps the most defined, in terms of muscularity, bodybuilder to ever walk the earth. Arnold states that you need to “believe in your vision, and be relentless in your pursuit.” You must follow your dreams in such a way that it seems like you’re possessed with passion and dedication.
Arnold Schwarzenegger had the big goal of going to live in the USA to be a bodybuilder and to become an actor.
That was crystal clear in his mind. He didn’t know exactly how that was going to happen but that didn’t matter. Having a clear goal gives us something to aim at. We need to know where we’re going but we don’t need to know how we’ll get there when we start. All we need to know is the first few steps. We can work the rest out as we go along.
We should set a goal, commit to it and then start taking action and adjusting our trajectory as we go.
Too much planning and analysis leads to fear and fear leads to procrastination. Clear goals and fast action are what brought Arnie success and we can do the same. If you don’t follow dreams in your life, you’ll find that all the opportunities you wish you had passed you by because you believed other people’s opinions rather than your own hard work.
Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t have a vague visualization like “get healthier.”
Instead, he put a date on the dream. Visualization doesn’t work unless the goal is specific. Otherwise, it’s just daydreaming. When he got to California, he visualized himself as a famous movie actor, even though he couldn’t speak English very well. And, later in his career, he visualized himself running the state of California. If you’re going to dream, dream big. Now is not the time to hold yourself back with your goals.
Lesson #2: Break The Rules
What does he mean by break the rules? He doesn’t mean to break the law, but what he means is to think outside of the box, think differently, take a different approach towards your goals, don’t try to copy others, be creative. Try to find a way even if you are not seeing one at the moment — Sounds strange?
Do you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger had to escape from the army to go and participate in the Junior Mr. Europe contest and he won it?
Every time Arnold Schwarzenegger attempted something great all his surroundings tried to talk him out of it, that it would be impossible for him. He became the greatest bodybuilder with no support from his family or friends, he became one of the best action movie superstars. In his first auditions, they always told him he can’t become a movie star because of his accent — and now one of the most famous movie quotes is – “I will be back”. So guys break the rules!
Breaking the rules doesn’t mean that you have to break the law, or get yourself in trouble.
Instead, this means you should think outside of the box and do something different. This makes you stand out and break away from the norms that leave you stuck in a cubicle without any recognition. According to Arnold, more than 50 years ago, no one worked out in the morning. Gyms didn’t open until 10 am, so the entire structure of the day was based on rules that, as it turns out, didn’t exist for a good reason.
Many rules are created to keep people in place so that the systems they operate in are more stable and predictable.
Rules have their function, and many make sense, having been collectively agreed on and refined by people in society over the years in order to create a smoother, better functioning system. But what are the justifications behind left-over rules from earlier periods that everyone thinks are true but which don’t make sense? What are the rules that are thrust upon people which only serve to prevent them from achieving their potential? If you can realize the true answer to these questions, you are in a powerful position to break through a barrier that no one else has dared to.
Never blindly follow rules without examining the truth behind their existence.
If you are not confident about your appearance, you may believe the rule that you can’t date someone more attractive than you. This is patently false, and the exceptions occur so frequently as to be commonplace. When everyone believes in a rule that doesn’t make sense to you, explore what happens when you violate it. You may pay the price of violation, or you may reap great rewards.
The famous motivational speaker Simon Sinek recounted a story where he and his friend are out in a park when they come across a stand distributing free bagels.
It had a long line. Simon suggested getting a bagel but his friend disagreed on the grounds that the queue was too long. Simon walked to the top of the queue slipped his hand through the gap and took a bagel. The lesson he drew from the experience was that some people will only see the line, or the barrier to success, while some will only see the bagel, or the prize. He concludes its good to break the rules. You don’t have to do play by the rules as long as you are not denying anyone else success.
Lesson #3: Kick Your Habits
Living outside your ‘comfort zone’ goes with the territory when you run your own business. However, 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?!
Perhaps we all need to reconsider where the boundaries of our comfort zone are…
To most, this sounds crazy; to Arnold Schwarzenegger, it was the only way to make it in bodybuilding, and it’s what he did! Whatever you aim for, if the laws of physics allow it, it’s possible. Remember that as you consider whether a limit or obstacle is real. It’s very likely a mental myth, and you can easily crush these by flipping around your limiting beliefs into a positive self-talk scripts.
Everyone hates change, but lack of change can cripple your career. and your life.
Oftentimes, people will stay with the same company because they’re comfortable with their surroundings and the work they need to perform. It’s something many people do to avoid the undesirable change that comes with changing careers or companies.
You need to view change as a new starting point; a chance to grow and excel in your field.
You need to take the leap of faith and follow change when you’re stagnant in the field. This can be anything from moving up to a new higher position, or leaving your current company to work with a startup that has immense potential.
You can re-create yourself as many times as you’d like.
Arnold Schwarzenegger recreated himself from an ordinary Austrian boy, to a fierce bodybuilder, to a real-estate entrepreneur, to a Hollywood movie star, and to a politician. Did people question him along the way? Of course. He was told repeatedly that his ‘weird’ accent would not cut it in the Hollywood scene. Imagine if he listened, there would be no Terminator! The point being here is that you can be whoever you want to be and nobody can stop you.
When people branch out in different directions it is usually something closely related to their current field.
For example, it’s easy to forget that Jennifer Lopez is primarily an actress as many people will only recognize her as a recording artist, but it’s actually due to her successful portrayal of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez in the biopic film Selena, that she even followed her second career as a musician. Arnold knew that he cannot maintain his physique into old age. That’s why he chose to go into many different careers, such as acting and politics. He earned his degree in business and economics at the University of Wisconsin, and positioned himself to be able to work in a variety of different fields.
Lesson #4: Work Your Butt Off
Work Like Hell — That’s what shapes you as a person. No Pain — No Gain, that’s so true, you should look things like that — there are so many people in this world who have the same goals as you, but while you lose your time doing activities that are not bringing you close to your goals, the others are working their asses off, so no matter how much talented you are, hard work always beats talent if talents doesn’t work hard.
In life most of the time those who work the hardest are the ones who succeed in life in the end, so my suggestion to you would be to.
Many people quit when the going gets tough. Arnold was able to achieve greatness through determination and a hard work ethic. No matter the cost, Arnold Schwarzenegger worked at an entirely new level to reach success. If you do not work hard, you will have failure in the future. Anything great requires great sacrifice, and sometimes you just need to be okay with the fallout on your way to success. As a general life plan, this is selfish and will do more harm than good, but for short bouts of dedicated time, this works well.
Strength is gained through hardship. Arnold’s path to success wasn’t a walk down the yellow brick road.
He didn’t win his first competition, and not all of his movies were box office successes. He didn’t give up though. Essentially, Arnold Schwarzenegger is saying that you should never give up. Life isn’t going to be all ups. There are going to be difficult times, you’re going to go through things that will try to break you, but you have to make the conscious decision to work harder, stay positive, and overcome them.
You never want to fail because you didn’t work hard enough.
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. Just remember, you can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.
The difference between success and failure is how hard you work.
To be honest, many of us quit when the going gets tough. You only have to look at how many people play the lottery each week as proof of the desire to gain the monetary rewards without having to put in the hard graft. But life doesn’t work like that. The truth is that it’s impossible to achieve greatness without having an insane work ethic and determination to succeed, whatever the cost.
There are no shortcuts. Confidence is the knowledge that you have the skill, which in turn is the result of repetition.
Terminators don’t blink. Therefore Arnold couldn’t blink. It wasn’t just in bodybuilding and movies where Arnold applied this mentality — he also brought this work ethic into his political career. From delivering the perfect three quarter back pose on the Mr Olympia stage to the three months spent mastering the art of broadsword fighting in preparation for his role in Conan the barbarian — nothing was left to chance — few could ever accuse Arnold Schwarzenegger of failing to prepare.
Lesson #5: Binging Isn't Just For Chips
Arnold had connections with gym owners, bodybuilding contest promoters & judges, ballet dancers, actors, directors, Olympic weightlifters, footballers, photographers, politicians, and a host of other people from very different backgrounds. He wouldn’t just spend leisure time with them but carefully observe what makes them the best in their field.
It’s always uncomfortable being around others that are much smarter than you, however it helps you to raise up to that level. It challenges you and inspires you to grow.
A large chunk of time in your 20s should be spent interacting and developing connections with new people. You never know who can change your life. I’ve met many people that are more successful than myself just by putting myself in the right places. This means going to seminars, attending meet up groups or events where they might be. Often times, there are individuals that are VERY successful at these places and you can meet them just through friendly networking.
Do you know what drives success? It’s having curiosity overload and the urge to never stop learning about business, trends, and more.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was always willing to try something new, succeed and then move on to the next project — something he did again and again throughout his life. Opportunities exist almost everywhere. As leaders, we sometimes fear that asking questions or seeking outside knowledge conveys weakness. Research shows the exact opposite: Others find us smarter when we ask questions than when we don’t. They are also more likely to volunteer new ideas and commit to new approaches.
Successful people continuously move the bar, setting ever higher standards of achievement.
Arnold Schwarzenegger invested heavily in courses from acting to maths and finance. This kind of thing you don’t often hear about, but it’s a key component to his success. While most people spend money on the pleasures, he invested in his most valuable asset: himself. Knowing how to focus on one thing at a time has made him better at everything he did.
Working with people who are on your level or better makes you work hard to be better — or in Arnold’s case, to be the best.
This is a concept that nearly everyone in business tends to understand naturally. To put things more quantifiably, the thought is more often expressed as, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Contrast this with Lou Ferrigno, who trained with a group of guys who weren’t fit to hold his towel. Sure, Louie had a great physique, but because he was never in competition in his training, he failed when it came time to step on stage.
No matter what you do in life, there should never be a point where you stop learning.
Because the more you know the more you can achieve. The old saying “knowledge is power” isn’t just a cutesy line, it’s really true! The more knowledge you have the more you can overcome. With gained knowledge you can tackle so many different kinds of obstacles that not actively searching for things to learn feels like a mistake.
Lesson #6: Failing Is Not Losing
Success goes hand in hand with failure, failing is what actually gives us the ability to learn and improve in life. No matter what you are trying to accomplish, you will most likely fail the first few times before getting the grasp of how to do it, for example the first time when you tried to ride a bike, or drive a car.
So accept the fact that you can’t always win, you see you shouldn’t let the fear of failure paralyze you, instead it should drive you.
Think about failure like that — The more you fail, the more you learn how to succeed — thus the closer you get to your final goal. Known for having a body that resembles a Greek God, Arnold Schwarzenegger entered the world of bodybuilding with a sense of arrogance. He thought that his size was enough to beat Frank Zane, but he lost his first Mr. Universe contest in 1968 to Zane. While he won the Mr. Universe the following year, he lost the Mr. Olympia competition to Sergio Oliva.
Long story short, a bad event isn’t the end of the world.
Those small setbacks won’t break you. You choose how you handle situations when things don’t go your way. One bad event, comment, or day doesn’t have to change everything. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world. You can decide to make the best of what you have, and work to have a better day the next day.
Without defeat you cannot be a winner.
Anything I’ve ever attempted, I was always aware that I could fail. So you can’t always win, but don’t 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.
There is one sure-fire way to avoid failing — and that’s deciding never to push yourself beyond your boundaries.
So if you’re failing, you’re also getting outside your comfort zone — and that’s one step closer to eventual success. If you plan to succeed in life, unfortunately some failure on the way is inevitable. I’m not trying to lessen the pain of failure. The consequences and emotional distress they cause can be genuine. However, we only experience real, lasting failure when we let these setbacks knock us down for good.
In order to grow, you need failure, it is life’s ultimate lesson.
Failing will happen, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, so you might as well have a ‘no fear’ attitude towards it. This does not mean you should expect to fail, but when it happens accept it. There is value in failure. Through failure, you will get to know yourself better and you will learn from your mistakes. Failures make us rethink, reconsider, and find new ways and strategies to achieve our goals.
Lesson #7: Haters Don't Matter
After buying his first investment apartment building — when everyone else was buying houses — Arnold was confronted by one of many nay-sayers throughout his life. Everyone likes to tell us what the problem is, including customers. Yet figuring out what the problem really is, and then solving it, is how you truly help people and provide value. And providing value leads to success.
Others opinion of what you can and what you can’t do — don’t matter!
The only opinion that matters is yours, you can achieve everything you want to achieve in life and Arnold Schwarzenegger is a great example of that as he accomplished what many would describe as impossible. You see no one believed him that he can become the greatest bodybuilder in the world, but he didn’t care — all he cared about was his own opinion, you see in life many people will tell you what you can’t do, just because they can’t do it, but that doesn’t mean that applies to you as well.
Arnie has received heavy criticism for most of his career decisions.
Whether it was a harsh movie critic, a box office failure, or backlash for his decision to run for governor, there have been harsh and hateful things said about him. He didn’t let any of that deter him from what he wanted to do, though. Even if you don’t want to enter into such public careers, you should still adopt the same attitude as Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you want to do something then you need to ignore those that tell you it’s not possible or that you can’t do it. Work for what you want, and prove the haters wrong.
When focusing on a goal it is easy to allow negativity and self-doubt to creep in.
Not everyone will agree with your plans, some of these will be the people closest to you, but the only person who has the final say is you. Success or failure — you have to be willing to go for it. 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? 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. So pay no attention to the people that say it can’t be done. I never listen to, “You can’t.” I always listen to myself and say, “Yes, you can.”
If you only remember one thing about naysayers, remember that they’re coming at you from a place of fear.
Don’t take their statements personally, just work on creating some mental distance and getting out of the situation as soon as possible. And most importantly, keep focusing on what’s most important to you: the goals and ambitions you’re striving for. Naysayers put a negative picture into your mind, coloring your dreams with fear. And the best way to combat this is to think back to what you want to achieve, picturing your own success.
Haters, naysayers. Anyone on the journey to success has them and must know how to remain motivated despite the discouragement and criticism.
If someone is discouraging and giving you bad advice, walk away. Just because they have something to say doesn’t mean you have to take their advice. As focused as you are on your goals, naysayers strongly believe in their views too. So there’s no need to seek affirmation or agreement from them about your plans. Whenever you get distracted by naysayers, it’s because you’ve lost focus. All you need to do is remember your goals. Go back to your core, that strategic plan and remember who you are and what you want to achieve.
Generally, most people fall into one of two camps; there are those who view him with a mixture of envy and awe, and there are those who just see Schwarzenegger as a wooden actor who cheated on his wife and injected enough testosterone to grow a thousand man-beards.
Yet behind this is a man so utterly driven to succeed that he dominated three of the most challenging careers in existence.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life is a fascinating one. Arnold had a charming personality. The camera loved him. He also had excellent people skills. These were his strengths. Combined with these qualities, the chances of making it big increased by a magnitude.
Arnold’s confidence allowed him to take chances and push himself to heights no one could’ve ever imagined — except maybe himself.
And, that’s the secret. If you believe something will happen, block out the distraction, prove the naysayers wrong, and focus on habits that will allow you to tackle your big goals — then anything is possible. But, it all starts with your belief.
There are lots of wolves out there in business and life, looking to maul you. Are you going to let them? And if they knock you down, are you going to get right back up again?
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Digital Dandy. Hacker From Heart. Workaholic. Coding Artist. Self-made.