Last year at Jamie McIntyre’s Annual Financial Education Summit, I experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear one of the most successful people-Arnold Schwarzenegger speak.
It is expected that someone of Arnie’s stature would have a lot of life experiences to share. Starting as a bodybuilder from a humble background he went on to win world championships, accomplished his career as a leading and one of the highest paid actors in some iconic movies and then gave up all the glamour for 7 years to become a public servant as the Governor of California.
At the Summit, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I admit that I haven’t watched too many Arnie movies and most of my knowledge about him was derived from pop culture, humour and tabloids. However, hearing him speak changed that, thus compelling me to share his 5 Rules of Success that motivated me and left an impression, which will last forever.
As the frenzy of being star struck after seeing the man from 10 inches away started to fade, I began to concentrate on his speech and realised that even though he may have led an extra-ordinary life- his rules to success were simple common sense and applicable to all of us. The reason he succeeded is because he implemented all of them.
Arnie’s 5 Rules to Success:
1) Have a Big Vision
The first step to success and achievement is by having a vision. In other words it would mean setting goals, targets and imagining where you want to see yourself. Arnie envisioned large crowds applauding him and idolising him. Over the years he worked towards it and made sure it happened. However, achieving that success is almost impossible without being ambitious. According to me, a vision is what gives purpose to our lives and actions. It is the incentive to wake up in the morning even after 10 consecutive rough days. Therefore having a vision makes us goal-oriented and often a survivor. Arnie explains how 74 per cent of Americans want to change their jobs as they are unfulfilled and feel a lack of purpose. According to him, people who lack vision are drifting aimlessly. Recalling his bodybuilding days, Arnie gave the example of how every painful set or rep was worth it as it brought him a step closer towards his desired vision.
2) Think Big
They say if you aim for the moon, you will fall amongst the stars. Some success stories consist of people achieving everything they hoped for and more. However, for all practical purposes that may not happen with all of us. Nevertheless, without thinking big and aiming high the possibility of realising your dream or ambition is even lower. Arnie says that most people are afraid to dream big due to the fear of failure. “But you can only fall to the ground” he says. Reminding us of the number of times he failed in the past, Arnie goes on to state that those who remain in the ground after falling are the failures, not the ones who pick themselves up and carry on.
The trajectory of Arnie’s career itself is a testament to thinking big as he has excelled in every field he’s ventured into. Even in the world of politics he did not run for mayor or city council- he shot for the stars and became the Governor. In fact Arnie attributes the rule of ‘thinking big’ as one of the reasons he was successful as a Governor who brought about the rebuilding of California with a massive $60 billion investment.
3) Ignore the Naysayers
In my opinion, this is one the most valuable lessons imparted by Arnie. Every big vision, every difficult ambition is always met by naysayers who try to dissuade you with their cynicism. However, the path to progress is not via negativity. In reference to a personal experience, if I had not followed my dream despite obstacles and listened to the discouragement from naysayers- I probably wouldn’t have received the opportunity to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger speak. Thus, I relate to Arnie’s third rule of success strongly.
At 15 when Arnie lived in Austria and wanted to become a bodybuilder, people laughed at him stating that it was an American sport and that he should consider becoming a ski-champion instead. When he wanted to become a movie star, agents and producers laughed at him saying “your accent gives me the creeps…” They couldn’t fathom a leading actor with a German accent and a complicated last name that sounded akin to schnitzel. Moreover, they complained his body was too ‘pumped’ as the new sex symbols were the likes of Woody Allen.
Arnie recalled an anecdote where he said agents offered him minor roles such as a wrestler, bouncer or maybe a Nazi officer due to the accent. However, he didn’t give up and eventually liabilities such as his accent and pumped body became an asset as we can see in The Terminator and Conan the Barbarian. “If I had listened to the naysayers, I wouldn’t be talking in front of you right now- I would be yodelling in Austria” joked Arnie.
4) Work Your Ass Off
You should never have to regret that you couldn’t achieve what you wanted just because you didn’t work hard enough- says Arnie. All the above factors are moot if an individual does not work hard to make his/her dreams a reality. It is not possible to simply skate through life and one of the biggest factors contributing to success is hard work. Failures may still happen, however, lack of effort simply leaves regrets. Arnie says how annoyed he gets when people use time crunch as an excuse to not work hard. “There are 24 hours in a day- you sleep for 6 hours and you still have 18 hours. Now some of you may say that you need 8 hours of sleep- in that case just sleep faster”!
Work hard he did as an immigrant to America when there wasn’t much money in body building and he worked as a bricklayer, went to business school and took acting lessons. We can all now see that the outcome made the hard work worth it.
5) Give Back
Giving back, according to Arnie it is one of the most fulfilling experiences of life. In his case, he gave back to America by becoming a public servant and stepping away from million dollar movies to a fixed salary as Governor. He says America helped him make that money and hence contributing to his country was the best job ever. Most people who have made a mark in this world are those who believed in a cause beyond themselves. Giving back to the community that helped make you will ultimately provide more satisfaction than money and fame. As Arnie quotes- “If not me, then who? If not now, then when?”