From Arnold Schwarzenegger’s humble beginnings as a young bodybuilder in Austria to a Hollywood superstar, and later becoming the Governor of California, this one man’s journey epitomizes the essence of sheer willpower and an undying quest for success. He has left behind a trail of unparalleled achievements, replete with lessons for anyone with the desire to succeed in any facet of life. His principles, grounded in perseverance, meticulous time management, and an unwavering commitment to a single goal, stand as a testament to what a resilient mind can accomplish. Let’s delve into his mindset together and uncover the strategies and the wisdom that shaped his path to success in his own words.
Arnold Schwarzenegger on What it Takes to Be Successful
“I was in the military. I was a tank driver, and at night, we parked our tank. First, we dug a hole underneath the tank so we could sleep underneath it. Around seven o’clock at night, I then went and opened up this compartment in my tank where you have the tools. But I didn’t have tools in there. I gave the tools to some other tank, and I had my collapsible bench, my dumbbells, and the barbell. Then we all were working out like two hours before we went to sleep at night. So we were training, and then we were eating, then we went to sleep. The next morning, we got up at five o’clock again to continue on with the maneuver. It didn’t matter if I was in the military. It didn’t matter if I was a tank driver or that the food was shitty. Nothing mattered. It was just – I got to train every day.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Inspirational Speech (2018)
“Work your ass off. There is no magic pill. It drives me crazy to go to the gym. If you read one hour a day, I went and worked out five hours a day, and I was working on construction. We have 24 hours a day. Organize your day. Work hard. I’m here to talk about success.”
“I went to college. I went and worked out five hours a day, and I was working on construction. Because in those days in bodybuilding, there was no money. I didn’t have the money for food supplements or anything. So I had to go to work. So I worked in construction. I went to college. I worked out in the gym, and at night from eight o’clock at night to twelve midnight, I went to acting class four times a week. I did all that. There was not one single minute that I wasted. And this is why I’m standing here today.”
“At the age of 20, I went to London, and I won the Mr. Universe contest as the youngest Mr. Universe ever. And it was because I had a goal. If you don’t have a vision of where you go, and if you don’t have a goal where you go, you drift around, and you never end up anywhere.”
“Seventy-four percent hate their job in America. The majority of people don’t like what they’re doing because they are really not doing it because they didn’t have a goal and followed this goal. They just aimlessly drift around, and then there’s a job opening, so they get their job because you have to work. But then, when you work, it’s a chore. It’s work. It’s not fun. So if you think about it, only a quarter of the people really enjoy what they’re doing in life.”
“So people always ask me, when they saw me in the gym in the Pumping Iron days, they say, ‘Why is it that you’re working out so hard? Five hours a day, six hours a day, and you always have a smile on your face. The others are working out just as hard as you do, and they look sour in the face. Why is that?’ And I told people all the time because, to me, I am shooting for a goal. In front of me is the Mr. Universe title. So every rep that I do gets me closer to accomplishing the goal, to make this goal, this vision, turn into reality.”
“Every single set that I do, every repetition, every weight that I lift will get me a step closer to turning this goal into reality. So I couldn’t wait to do another 500-pound squat. I couldn’t wait to do another 500-pound bench press. I couldn’t wait to do another 2,000 reps of sit-ups. I couldn’t wait for the next exercise.”
“So let me tell you something, visualizing your goal and going after it makes it fun. You got to have a purpose no matter what you do in life. You got to have a purpose.”
“Muhammad Ali worked his butt off. And I saw it firsthand. I remember that there was a sports writer that was there in the gym, and he was working out; he was doing sit-ups. And he asked him, ‘How many sit-ups do you do?’ And he said, ‘I don’t start counting until it hurts.’ Now think about that. He doesn’t start counting his sit-ups until he feels pain. That’s when he starts counting. That is working hard.”
“And so, you can’t get around the hard work. It doesn’t matter who it is. Work your ass off. There is no magic pill. There is no magic out there. You cannot get around. You have to work and work and work. You have this, make sure of that, in order stuff. So it’s work.”
“And it drives me crazy when people say that they don’t have enough time to go to the gym for 45 minutes a day and work out, or to do something for 45 minutes to an hour a day to improve, if it is physically improve or if it is mentally to improve. Imagine you read one hour a day about history. How much you will learn after 365 hours in one year?”
“Think about if you study about the history of musicians, of composers, how much you would know? Imagine if you would work on the business and some business that you want to develop every day for an hour. Imagine how further along you will go and get.”
“So it drives me nuts because when people say they don’t have the time. We have 24 hours a day. We sleep six hours a day. So that gives you still 18 hours. There’s someone shaking the head out here in front to say, ‘probably I don’t sleep 6 hours. I sleep eight hours, right?’ Or just sleep faster. So we have 18 hours a day. The average person works around 8 to 10 hours. So, let’s assume it’s 10 hours, so we have 8 hours left, then you travel around an hour a day, maybe two hours a day. So now you have still six hours left. So what are you doing with this six hours? Maybe eat a little bit. Maybe schmooze a little bit. Talk a little bit to people and all that stuff, but you can see how much time is available if you organize your day.”
“So you got to work hard. I hate Plan B. I tell you why. Because we have so many doubters, as I’ve said earlier, the no-sayers, we have so many of those people who say no, you can’t do it, that’s impossible. That is okay because we just turn off, as I said earlier, and listen and be hear that ‘no’ being a ‘yes.’ You can’t do it. Do it. You can do it and all that. So that is possible to do that amongst all the negative people around you. But when you start doubting yourself, that’s very dangerous because now what you’re basically saying is if my plan doesn’t work, I have a fallback plan. I have a Plan B.”
“And that means that you start thinking about Plan B, and every thought that you put into Plan B, you’re taking away now that thought and that energy from Plan A. And it’s very important to understand that we function better if there is no safety net. Because Plan B becomes a safety net, it says that if I fail, then I fall, and I get picked up, and I have something else there that means they will protect me.”
“And that’s not good because people perform better when there’s no safety net. People perform better in sports and everything else if you don’t have a Plan B. I’m telling you, I’ve never, ever had a Plan B. I made a full commitment that I’m going to be a bodybuilding champion. I made a full commitment that I’m going to be in America. I made a full commitment that I’m going to get into show business. And I’m going to be a leading man. No matter what it takes. I will do the work. I will do the work over and over and over until I get it.”
“The same as in politics and everything like that. So to me, it is very dangerous to have a Plan B because you are cutting yourself off to have a plan B because you’re cutting yourself off from the chance of really succeeding, and the reason one of the main reasons why people want to have a plan B is Because they are worried about failing. What if I fail then I don’t have anything else? Well, let me tell you something. Don’t be afraid of failing because there’s nothing wrong with failing. You have to fail in order to climb that ladder. failing. They worry, ‘What if I fail? I won’t have anything else.’ But the truth is, there’s nothing wrong with failing. You have to fail in order to climb the ladder. There’s no one that doesn’t fail. Michael Jordan said in one of his interviews. When they said “You’re unbelievable the greatest basketball player of all times” I mean tell me about that. And then he said “Well, you just mentioned the successes” But he says “For me to become the greatest basketball player I missed nine thousand shots when I was playing basketball in the NBA games.”
So during this games that he was so successful he missed nine thousand shots”
“Does that make him a failure? No, he is one of the greatest basketball players of all times, but he failed 9,000 times. Do you get it? We all fail, it’s okay. What’s not okay is when you fail you stay down. Whoever stays down is a loser. Winners, on the other hand, fail and get up. They fail, and they get up again. They fail, and they get up again. That is a winner.”
“I’ve failed. I’ve lost bodybuilding competitions, powerlifting competitions, weightlifting competitions. I’ve had movies that were total failures and received the worst reviews. In politics, I’ve had initiatives on the ballot that were defeated. My approval rating in California once fell to 28%. Then it went back up again, and I won again the governorship again. Hey, we all lose. If you all have lost, it’s okay. This is why I say don’t be worried about losing. Because when you’re afraid of losing, you get frozen. You get stiff, you’re not relaxed. You’ve got to be in order to perform well in anything, whether it’s boxing, or if it’s on your job, or with your thinking. It’s only happening when you relax. So relax, it’s okay to fail. Let’s just go all out and give it everything that you got. That’s what it’s all about. So don’t be afraid to fail.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger 
- Relentless Dedication: Arnold encourages a steadfast commitment to personal and professional growth. He underscores the significance of making time daily for mental or physical self-improvement.
- Mindful Time Management: Arnold emphasizes the need to thoughtfully organize our day. He points out that with disciplined planning, we all have enough time to dedicate to personal development.
- Plan A Commitment: Rejecting the concept of a ‘Plan B,’ Arnold asserts that complete devotion to the primary plan, or Plan A, is pivotal. Diverting energy to a backup plan can unintentionally dilute efforts toward accomplishing the primary goal.
- Embrace Failure: Schwarzenegger believes that failure is an inherent part of success. The key is not to avoid failure, but to accept it, learn from it, and use it as fuel for perseverance.
- No Fear of Losing: He maintains that fear of loss can lead to underperformance. The focus should be on giving your all rather than worrying about potential failures.
In the quest for success, Arnold Schwarzenegger presents a pragmatic and inspiring approach. His philosophy champions tireless dedication, careful time management, unwavering focus on a singular goal, and a fearless acceptance of failure. The crux of his message is that effort should be relentless, fear of failure eradicated, and focus laser-sharp, with no room for a secondary plan or diversion. The path to achievement, as per Arnold, is paved with the courage to face failure, the persistence to rise each time we fall, and the discipline to commit wholeheartedly to our aspirations.