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How To Think Like Arnold Schwarzenegger – Lessons From His Book

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By reading autobiographies, you can get up close and personal with people that you may never meet in real life. A biography of someone’s life can help you not to make the same mistakes that they did. Sometimes you have to see the same life lesson in different ways before you truly understand it.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most iconic celebrities globally and whether you like him or not, his book can teach you so many things (although I skipped through the political career part mostly because I hate politics).

This article will save you many hours of reading and focus on the points that Arnold brings up multiple times in his life. There are certain themes of success that become apparent after reading his book.

Here are the 14 life lessons you can learn from his book and apply yourself:

1. Forget competing

Losing to Chet Yorton in a bodybuilding competition taught Arnold a valuable lesson. It taught him that you must go into a battle to win and not to compete. Arnold would often visualise himself winning a competition, and his thoughts were full of nothing other than a clear focus to achieve his goal. Nothing was going to stop him from being the best, and he insisted on aiming high.

Don’t settle for second best in your life and back yourself the way Arnold did. Know that you have to believe you can win first before you can actually win.

2. Your mind is what is holding you back

There is a story in the book about how Arnold thinks he has hit his limit in calf raises when a man named Reg does more than twice what he can lift. Arnold is forced to rethink his limitations, and he talks about how this happened in the four-minute mile that was previously thought to be impossible.

His friend Franco demonstrates the mental limitations of the mind perfectly. He thinks he can’t do as many reps in squats as Arnold until Arnold makes up that some beautiful girls believe he can. Instantly, with the thoughts of the pretty ladies in his head, he breaks through his barrier.

The way we train our brains is what is holding us back. Sometimes it’s the smallest form of outside motivation that makes us change a limiting belief and crush our goals. Once you believe in yourself, all you need is a second person to believe in you, and you can achieve amazing feats.

3. Life is reps

Arnold worked out five hours a day, six days a week. Most of us train 45 mins, and we’re exhausted.

All at the same time he was working on his mail order business, on his acting classes, going to college, training for three hours a day and doing construction.

The psychology of success that Arnold learned as a bodybuilder was something he used in everything else he went on to do in his career. Bodybuilding is about building muscle by doing repetitions (known as reps) of a certain exercise.

It’s bodybuilding 101 to track every set of reps that you do. Pretty quickly Arnold figured out that if he wanted to make a certain muscle bigger, all he had to do was increase the numbers of reps he did and then slowly increase the resistance by adding more weight.

As he went into acting and then politics, later on, he used the reps concept to learn lines of a script and prepare for his political speeches. What was funny was that one of the photos in the book was of a speech he was learning and he had penciled lines along the top that stood for how many sets of reps he had done of the speech, just like he used to do when he would mark down sets of an exercise.

He wasn’t necessarily smarter than his competitors; he just did more reps than anybody else. In your own life, do you think you could do more reps of the tasks that lead to your dream?

4. Staying on top of the hill is harder than climbing it

Once Arnold reached the top in bodybuilding, he found himself at one point where he got lazy, complacent and distracted by study because he had already achieved his big goal. For him, it was harder to stay on top of the hill than climb it.

Having an enormous hill to climb to reach your dreams gives you motivation, but once you achieve your dream, it’s much harder to sustain the success long term because the motivation is now gone. Using lessons from Arnold’s life, you always need to have a goal that motivates you and is different than your previous pursuits. This is how you stay on top of the hill.

“Every rep and every set is getting me closer to my goal” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

5. Smile no matter what

Even when Arnold was lifting huge amounts of weight, he always had a smile on his face. The pain he must have been enduring in order to push such heavy weights should have made him look angry or frustrated. The reason he wasn’t angry or frustrated was because he had something on the other side of his goal to smile about.

He had a dream of going to America and achieving the impossible. That’s how he was always able to smile. Why can’t you focus on the happy feelings at the other end of the rainbow with a smile on your face while you endure the struggle in the present?

6. Passion hides the audience

The first time Arnold did a proper TV interview he told the pre-interviewer that he doesn’t see the audience because he’s so passionate about what he’s talking about. By having the audience blocked out in his mind, he is able to minimise the nerves and stay focused.

He lets his passion drive him rather than his fear. We can all use this strategy to help us do those audacious and crazy tasks that keep us awake at night.

7. When they say no you hear yes

Hollywood is full of knockbacks and disappointment. Like Arnold, you have to be almost bulletproof when it comes to rejection. One of Arnold’s mentors Lucy told him that when he hears no, he should really hear yes and act accordingly.

This could seem quite stupid, but it allows you to act in a way that is humble, brave, and unwavering in your pursuit. In a way, Arnold was lying to himself. He did this often, and these lies to himself are what allowed him only to see what he could do rather than what he couldn’t.

I’ve mentioned before about how important it is to trick your mind. Tricking your mind is a fantastic life hack, and you can be made to believe anything. Use this malfunction in your genetic makeup to kick ass and crush your goals!

8. Think beyond your own career

What was unique about Arnold’s bodybuilding career was that he felt it was his responsibility not just to make himself successful, but to use his success as a way to elevate and promote fitness. This is one of the primary reasons why he took part and became the star of the “Pumping Iron” documentary.

Your motivation will multiply when you add a broader audience to your mission. Arnold believed that every competition he won helped more than just himself. We’re wired to connect with one another and take the human race to the next level.

9. Make your peculiarities into assets

Just like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold shouldn’t have been successful based on the typical Hollywood mold that existed at the time. What he did differently that made him successful was use his unusual muscley body, accent, and funny name to make himself memorable.

Instead of being embarrassed by his peculiarities he embraced and acknowledged them. He was vulnerable enough to trust his own abilities and to stay focused on how he could achieve his vision. The aspects that make you different can be utilised in the same way.

10. You get harder and more durable the more you struggle

We spend our whole lives trying to avoid pain and minimise struggle. We want the modern day dream of the big house and nice car in return for the least amount of pain as possible. We have a reference though that shatters this myth to pieces.

That reference is exercise and working out. On a conscious level, we all know that muscles and fitness are never achieved unless we break through our previous results and push harder. So if the struggle is crucial in the gym, then why isn’t it just as important in life?

The answer to this question is something that Arnold discovered for himself and he treated every opportunity like it was an exercise to be executed at the gym. He knew that just like his muscles couldn’t grow without the struggle, neither could his mind or his life.

This way of thinking is where we all need to aim to get to. It’s this idea that will propel the world forward and help us to fix the problems that we’ve created like poverty and pollution.

11. The whole world is not focused on your failure

Arnold’s movie “Last Action Hero” was a flop and in the book he described what that’s like. He says, “You tend to assume that the whole world is focused on your failure.”

Upon reflection, Arnold realises that most of the time people have no idea of your failures nor do they care. They’re probably not reading up in detail about you online or watching YouTube video’s 24/7 about you. This is an illusion we have, and people have their own problems to worry about.

Your failure will consume you if you spend every waking minute thinking about how people are reacting to your pitfalls in life. Instead, focus on your next win and don’t dwell on the past.

12. We need to look less at ourself and more at each other

In a moment of triumphant glory in the book, Arnold says that as a society we are too self-absorbed. He explains that he has gotten more satisfaction from improving a state, country or neighborhood than he has from improving himself alone through movies and bodybuilding.

As I always say, it’s not about you. Entrepreneurship and life is not about you. This is why Arnold has been able to have so much success, and the people that have followed his footsteps have done the same. It’s one of the only secrets to success you need to understand to mirror his achievements.

“Have a vision, trust yourself, break some rules, ignore the naysayers, don’t be afraid to fail” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

13. Be part of a cause that will outlive you

Leaders have a way with words. They typically describe visions that are so much bigger than themselves. A cause that goes beyond us is how we can bring meaning and joy to our life. It’s what we’re all chasing, and this is predominantly all we need to do.

Find your cause, exploit it to your full potential, and serve the greater good.

14. Celebrate the circumstances that traumatized you

Our struggle defines us. In Arnold’s life, his father always put him down and physically hit him. When he was a kid this upset him, but as he grew older, he figured out that this pain and struggle is what motivated him to leave Austria and become world famous.

If Arnold hadn’t had a rough childhood, would we have ever discovered his brilliance in movies like The Terminator? Probably not. The man that taught us to respect our bodies and make them stronger may never have come into the limelight.

We may never have had all the millions of gyms globally if Arnold didn’t reframe the circumstances that traumatized him and turn them into what defined him as a human being and one of the greatest public figures of all time.

Do you think you can learn something from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life? Let me know on my website timdenning.net or my Facebook.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship.You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Jam

    Dec 22, 2016 at 5:46 am

    amazing….

  2. Jam

    Dec 22, 2016 at 5:45 am

    Amazing..Tim!!!

  3. Shakur Nour

    Nov 14, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Great article thanks Tim.

  4. Dan

    Nov 12, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Loved the article Tim

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Success Advice

Why You Should Prefer Emails to Phone Calls if You Want to Be More Productive

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“Email” and “productivity” rarely go together in a sentence. Emails have been declared as one of our largest time wasters. A McKinsey report stated that people spend around 2.6 hours each day responding to emails. That’s 13 hours a week, 52 hours a month and over 60 days a year! Imagine what you could’ve achieved in 60 days!

Emails also negatively affect our cognitive resources. When we think of responding to them while doing other important tasks, it takes up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds after being disrupted to return to full attention to a current task. Imagine how much our cognition and productivity gets fractured when we get distracted over and over again.

Constant emailing also drains us mentally. And at the end of a day, we realize that we’ve achieved nothing worth mentioning. With a phone call, you can sort issues and solve problems quickly, right? In theory, you’re right. But we live in a practical world where many variables come into play.

Below are three variables that make phone calls adversely affect our productivity, and why emails are a better alternative:

1. Wasting Time

Most “five-minute conversations” can quickly turn into 35-minute calls because people ramble about irrelevant aspects. This derailment, several times a day, severely limits the limited time and energy you have for important tasks.

Emails, on the other hand, force writers to streamline their thoughts and stick to the point. Emails can save you plenty of time and energy because you avoid lengthy phone calls. The constant strife to keep your own emails short and crisp also makes you a clearer thinker, which rewards you in other aspects of your life.

“It’s better to waste money, than it is to waste time. You can always get more money.” – Hal Sparks

2. Inaccurate Responses

An unexpected phone call can catch me caught off guard on a topic. I might respond emotionally or give an answer that doesn’t do justice to what I want to share. In a world dominated by panic buttons and fire-fighting, these don’t just stress me out but the caller as well.

Emails give me flexibility to prepare a coherent response and share it when I’m satisfied. If I feel a surge of emotion, I can sleep over the thought and share a better (more rational) response the next day. Many page-long email responses to emails that upset me have turned into a simple “thank you for your email” the next day.

3. Constant Back-and-Forth

Phone calls often are ineffective to solve business problems. Accounting for multiple people, their views, their timelines… One phone call can quickly turn into three.

Emails are quicker and more effective than even conference calls. They let you communicate with multiple people at the same time. You can share information, assign tasks and give status updates while being as specific as possible.

You must be wondering, “What about back-and-forth emails then? Why do we waste precious time on them?” Yes, email has earned a bad rap. But it’s not because of the medium; it’s because we handle it ineffectively.

A Better Approach to Emailing

For most people, constantly refreshing the inbox is part of the daily to-do list. It keeps them busy and gives them a kick of dopamine – the feel-good chemical.

Ironically, this quest to remain busy makes people compromise on taking action that can move them forward. Using emails prudently, rewards you with plenty of energy and mind space to focus on tasks that truly matter.

Here are three steps that benefited me without succumbing to the side effects of email:

1. Checking Them Less

I check emails just 3 times a day – at 9:30 AM, 12:00 PM, and 4:30 PM. If you don’t have the luxury to do the same, you can start by checking your emails for ten minutes at the end of each hour. Most senders expect a response in a little over an hour. So they won’t mind a slightly delayed response. This gives you 45 undisturbed minutes each hour to work on your core tasks.

2. Responding Quickly

People delay responding to emails at least 37% of the time, which turns finding emails and responding to them into additional tasks that cost time and lead to attention residue. Most emails take under two minutes to respond. When you can respond to an email, do so instead of putting it off. This won’t just put your mind at peace, it’ll also reduce the number of “did-you-see-this” follow-up emails in your inbox.

“I do love email. Wherever possible I try to communicate asynchronously. I’m really good at email.” – Elon Musk

3. The If-Then Technique

The If-Then technique helps you address multiple scenarios at once. For instance, an email that says, “Can we meet at 3:00 PM?” becomes, “Can we meet at 3:00 PM? If not, please advise three other times that work for you.”

This technique is also effective when you want to suggest ideas or provide instructions on alternative steps. For example, “Here’s Plan A. If it doesn’t work, connect with [name] and ask for [specific information]. If you don’t get what you need, inform me.”

I’ll admit. This sounds like more work in the current moment, but it drastically cuts down the number of trail mails, confused correspondences, and fire-fighting instances that occur due to miscommunication.

The If-Then formula is the single most effective technique I’ve learned from The 4-Hour Workweek. All of this doesn’t mean that you abandon phone calls, In fact, it’s better to use the phone for sensitive topics or if an email conversation gets dragged. But remain mindful to not let phone calls waste your time.

If you want to pursue a meaningful life, place a premium on your time. Do things that create time for you to pursue meaningful actions and avoid doing what pulls you away from them. In the knowledge economy, this is the key to success.

Do you prefer email or talking on the phone? Share your thoughts below!

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Success Advice

4 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Reach the Level of Success You So Desperately Crave

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how to be happy and successful
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It’s normal that every person in the world wants to reach success and happiness. Yet, everyone defines both of these things differently. For some, success is making a whole bunch of money while for others this can be to become a good parent. Happiness is defined differently as well. Some people need to own a jet, boat and 3 cars to be truly happy, while others are happy just to be able to wake up in the morning.

It doesn’t matter how you define success and happiness, the truth is, you want to achieve them both. But, to be able to reach success and happiness, you need to answer 4 questions for yourself.

Here are the 4 questions you need to answer before you can achieve success and happiness:

1. Where Are You?

No, not geographically. It doesn’t matter where you live. What matters is where are you in life. Where are you in your way to success and happiness. Let’s say you are lost in the woods. You know exactly where you want to go, but you don’t know where you are. Even a map doesn’t help you with that.

The same is true in life. You may have a goal, but until you truly define where you are in the moment, you can’t move toward this goal. So, step 1 on your way to success and happiness is to define where you are right now.

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

2. Where Do You Want to Go?

When you define where you are in life, then you can think of where you want to be.

There’s this saying:  When you don´t know your final destination, you´ll end up somewhere you didn’t want to be. Until you don’t know clearly where you want to be in life and who you want to become, your life doesn’t have a true purpose.

Without purpose, there´s no motivation. Without motivation, there´s no energy. And without energy, you´re not living, you´re just existing. I am sure you know someone who looks like a walking corpse everytime you see them. Do you think this person lives a successful and happy life? Most likely not.

So, step 2 on your way to success and happiness is to clearly define your goal. What do you want to accomplish and who do you want to become?

3. Why Do You Want It?

Okay, you know the basics. You know where you are and where you want to be. But, as Rocky Balboa said, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.” And as you already know, life usually doesn’t go according to your plan. There will be hard times and to overcome those and not give up, you need to know WHY you do what you do.

You need to know WHY you want to accomplish your goals. When you answer this for yourself, you don’t struggle so much to motivate yourself. You will be motivated every minute of every day.

So, as a step 3, sit down and think of WHY you want to accomplish your goals. What’s the big purpose?

“We can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.” – Tony Robbins

4. How Are You Going to Get There?

And finally, how are you going to get there? What’s your plan? You may know where you are, where you want to be and why you want to do it, but until you truly understand how you are going to get there, there won’t be much success and happiness in your life.

For example, you want to become a bodybuilder. You want to do it because you want to have big muscles and you want to look fit. But, you have no idea how to work out, how to build muscle and how to lose fat. Do you think, you´re going to be happy? No. As Tony Robbins says, “true happiness comes from progress.”

To make progress, you need to have a specific plan; how to get from point A (where you are) to point B (where you want to be). So, as a step 4, sit down and make a specific plan for how you’re going to get what you want in life.

In order to reach success and happiness, there are 4 questions you need to answer for yourself. Without answering them, you´re not going to  get ahead in life, you´re just bouncing around. Success and happiness never come from just bouncing around in life.

Good news is, that these questions are really simple. It won’t take much time to answer them. Just be aware of where you are and where you want to be. Don´t forget to understand why you are pursuing your dream and finally, how are you going to get what you want.

Answer these 4 simple questions today and you won’t struggle with finding success and happiness in life anymore.

Which one of the above 4 questions resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts and ideas below!

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Success Advice

The Empathetic Heart: How The CHO of VaynerMedia Is Changing The Way We Work

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Claude Silver CHO of Vaynermedia
Image Credit: VaynerMedia

A month after I had joined LinkedIn back in July of 2018, I sent Claude Silver a connection request and began following her content. One day she made a post saying “Ask and you shall receive, what can I do to help you today?”. I commented on that post asking for a 5 minute interview and to my surprise she agreed by asking me to send her a message (I was given a full hour). This was the first example of pure kindness I witnessed from Claude.

The first message you see on Claude’s website is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something. That message spoke to me on an emotional level, and I believe it will speak to you too. I wanted to know how she created such an amazing culture, what being a “culture carrier” meant, and how the employees at VaynerMedia have been changed by her work there.

A culture carrier in Claude’s own words is “someone who is aligned with our values, I can’t teach someone to be kind they have to already be kind. The process of developing a culture carrier takes about 6 months. It’s about bringing people together and having strong core values of kindness and empathy.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder of VaynerMedia, is often referred to as a combination of hustle and heart. With the hiring of Claude and the work she has accomplished within the company, it speaks to the level of empathy that can be felt throughout the entire operation.

Although business can be a challenging, tough, and often cut-throat terrain, by putting employees first and providing honest feedback the company has grown to include offices in New York, Chattanooga, Los Angeles and London, and continues to dominate the market.

Below we’ll see 3 different ways the CHO of VaynerMedia is changing the way people work:

1. By being unafraid to share her own story

Claude has been an influential part of breaking the stigma surrounding vulnerability in the business arena. Not only does she openly share her own story, but she sits down with employees to better understand their vulnerabilities and how to use characteristics that previously would have been considered weaknesses as strengths.

When asked what her biggest adventure to date was she replied “Having Shalom (her daughter). I have had an amazing life, I moved, worked hard, landed an amazing job and fell in love but it didn’t come without its challenges.”

Claude is openly gay and is living proof your sexual orientation doesn’t matter. Nothing matters but your character, your track record, and if you leave people a little better off than before you met them. From Claude, business leaders, employees and entrepreneurs can learn to be more open both on social media and in person, allowing them to build more meaningful relationships and connect on a deeper level. A deeper connection can mean more leverage but it also means a more lasting impact on the world.

“Everyone has something they can share. I’m not famous. I don’t have anything that would be newsworthy, but I have stories.” – Tafta Johnson Watson

2. Committing to a strong value system

VaynerMedia has some serious values for such a large company and those values are expected to be upheld by every employee and visitor. Values like kindness, empathy, honesty, hustle and the art of not complaining.

With Claude holding the title of Chief Heart Officer, she is the guiding light for others. When recruiting, she says she “takes the time to evaluate an individual’s talents but most importantly their own heart”.  

Gary Vaynerchuk is quoted as saying:”To me, there’s no debate that kindness is a strength. And it breaks my heart to know that so many people believe it’s a weakness. So many people are afraid that other people will take advantage of their kindness or make them feel “used.” But the truth is, those who take advantage of your kindness are weak on the inside. Feel bad for them, don’t let them make you feel bad about yourself“.

Both Claude and Gary teach aspiring entrepreneurs that it is okay to live with an open heart and that having the strength to commit to and live with a strong value system, will be a powerful tool during the hustle journey. It also allows you to go to bed at night actually liking the person that you are, nothing will kill a business faster than going to bed at night and hating yourself.

3. Listening with action

As mentioned above Claude’s slogan is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something.  As a woman who wears many hats, she is also an Outward Bound Instructor, taking individuals on amazing adventures in the outdoors.

Taking action on any given day can mean a number of different things but it speaks to her own character and driving force that she is able to not only guide people through the world of office politics but also through the serene and sometimes challenging wilderness.

Claude cultivates an environment of trust by first offering individuals her own trust. It is a huge and vulnerable action that leads to a relationship of love – heart – and productivity. Listening as an action is something that has the power to change an entire organization from an unproductive, toxic environment to one that promotes creativity, passion, inclusion and positivity.

“Relationships are leverage. If you give value to someone else first, you have leverage.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

To get the truest sense of how Claude was changing the way people work, I asked her co-workers to tell me what working alongside Claude has done for them. Here is one of the answers I received:

“During my time working alongside Claude, I’ve really come to appreciate her example of being a good listener. As a society, we tend to praise the power of speaking. But Claude demonstrates on a daily basis that the most important thing everybody wants is to be heard.” – Steve Babcock, Chief Creative Officer VaynerMedia.

I tried looking for images of Claude on her website and I think it speaks to how focused she is on holding space for others, because I couldn’t find a single full sized image of her to use. I googled. Writing this piece has opened me up to evaluate my own values and the way I connect with people in my daily life.

From this article, it is my own hope that entrepreneurs come to the understanding that although tenacity and true grit are really important, the whole of what Claude represents is something to strive towards. The “soft” skills you develop are humongous strengths and to truly impact an entire organization.

What’s the last random act of kindness you did for someone? Share with us below!

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Success Advice

The 7 Secrets of High Achievers Revealed

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We all have goals in life, but very few of us ever learn to consciously set, work on and see our goals through. In our naturalness bias, we marvel at those who have set and reached their goals thinking they have some esoteric abilities that we don’t. We overlook that the final product is the result of a series of mistake-ridden, unrecorded pains. What if we could learn from the process, the habits and rituals of the high achievers? (more…)

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