I criticized Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography, “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story” because it was generally a pack of lies. It was also depressing that the lion who wrote Education of a Bodybuilder became a people pleaser and rewrote his history to make himself more politically correct.
That said, Arnold is Arnold. When he’s not spinning facts to make himself more palatable to a wussified, politically correct society, he is one of the wisest men to have walked God’s green earth. Cut through the lies for the real lessons of Total Recall.
1. To find greatness…Quit!
Surely Arnold does not advocate quitting, you might say. There’s no room for quitting in his Six Rules of Success.
When I was ten years old I got this thing that I wanted to be the best in something, so I started swimming. I won championships, but I felt I couldn’t be the best. I tried skiing, but there I felt I didn’t have potential. I played soccer, but I didn’t like that to well because there I didn’t get the credit alone if I did something special. I just avoided team sports from then on. Then I started lifting through the other sports and I enjoyed it the most. I won the Austrian championship in 1964 but found out I was too tall. So I quit that and went into body building. Two years later I found out that that’s it-that’s what I can be the best in.
He quit everything he knew he’d never be great at in order to become the best bodybuilder (and then action hero) the world had ever known. He didn’t waste his life trying to win at tennis or skiing, even though he may have been decent at those sports.
He sought greatness, and to be great you must first quit.
How many of us waste time chasing things we will never be great at? Victor Pride from Bold & Determined was an insurance salesman. Roosh was a lab nerd trying to score with mediocre D.C. chicks. Chris from Good Looking Loser was a law student. They all quit and look at them now.
I was actually a pretty decent boxer. I could have been good enough for the journey – maybe appearing on ESPN and maybe getting lucky by taking someone out.
But I knew I’d never have been great. I’d have been some punch drunk never-was in a bar saying, “I coulda been a contender!”
My brain was my best asset. I quit boxing and devoted myself to improving my brain and developing charisma.
Find out what you are great at. This means you must try many things out. Don’t medicate yourself with brewskis after a day of wearing khaki pants and collared shirts. Seek out the struggle.
Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.
If you suck at something and will never be great, quit! Move on until you find your life purpose.
2. No one is self-made. Find your mentor.
Surely Arnold’s ego could not let him make this point, but consider his life story. Arnold was brought to America by Joe Weider. Without Joe Weider, there would be no Arnold.
Weider mentored Arnold, teaching him everything from business to art collecting. Weider was the father Arnold wished he had had.
Who is your mentor? Look around. Do you have people with superior knowledge that you can call upon? Are you developing your own expertise so that you are a source of value and enrichment?
Your mentor need not even be older and your mentor need not be all things to you. Danger & Play Podcast co-host Jay is jokingly referred to as my co-mentor. I mentor him on some things and he mentors me on different things.
You’re not going to win the game by playing alone. Even an apex alpha like Arnold had a mentor and he leveraged the relationship to maximize his own success.
3. Create multiple sources of income.
Arnold didn’t rely on bodybuilding for his sole source of income. He also ran a construction company with his best friend, Franco Columbo.
(In this video tour of Venice Beach, Arnold shows off one of the walls he and Franco built so many decades ago.)
Arnold sold bodybuilding programs in Joe Weider’s muscle magazine. (See Rule #2.) When people asked about the weight belt he used, Arnold started selling weight belts, too.
He saved his money from bodybuilding contests and product endorsements and program sales and product sales and then bought rental properties. He was no longer dependent on any one thing for his livelihood.
Arnold did not have a job. (Know what JOB stands for? Just over broke.) Arnold had multiple sources of income and you should, too.
4. Go all in.
The difference between those who adapted and those who didn’t, Gorton said, was a willingness to totally commit….If you want to turn a vision into reality, you have to give 100% and never stop believing in your dream.
So you’ve quit everything that you sucked at to find your true life purpose? Now go all in. Don’t be a beta boy living aimlessly and without purpose and direction. (The saddest secret is that many of us are doing just that.)
Commit yourself fully to your cause, raise your standards, and do whatever it takes to succeed.
I was guilty of not following this rule. Victor reached out to me to say:
You need to be a man. Either go all in with your blog and make it work, or shut the thing down. You’re embarrassing yourself and being a hypocrite by having a half-ass blog. Fix your design, make these tweaks, and start writing again or else go home to mommy for milk and cookies.
Well, that’s not quite what he said, but if he had said that, he would have been right.
Either do something or don’t do something. Be committed and go all in or stay home watching TV and playing on the Internet like a little boy.
5. Build your crew.
Positive thinking can be contagious. Being surrounded by winners helps you develop into a winner.
Arnold has lifelong friendships and is famous for his loyalty. All of his friends had one thing in common – a burning desire to succeed.
Arnold didn’t associate with losers or negative people or people who couldn’t keep stable friendships. He even didn’t give family members a free pass. (Is your family bringing your down? I’ve disowned my own brother, who is a scum bag meth user who shot his drug dealer and went to prison.)
You’re the average of your five closest friends. To better yourself, better your crew. If people can’t keep up, offer them a hand. If they are too unmotivated to take it, see you later alligator.
6. Don’t seek validation for your mission.
What I’m doing is the thing I want to do. I don’t care what other people think. If the rest of disagrees and says I shouldn’t waste my time, I still will be a bodybuilder. I love it.
You want to travel the world banging girls? Or maybe you want to write a blog or start an online radio station or maybe you want to get jacked or maybe you want to be a poet, painter, or screen writer.
It’s your life and your mission is your prerogative. When Arnold began competing, bodybuilding was seen as a fringe sport for weirdos and gays. He didn’t let insecurities stop him. He created a state of certainty and followed his mission.
Others don’t like your mission? Who cares?!