Arnold’s Schwarzenegger’s Six Tips for Success

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.

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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?!

Read more: Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder; and Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story.

  • Robert

    Good read. I need to re-build my local circle.

    People are going to misconstrue the first tenant. You have to have work-ethic and character before you apply it. Otherwise you’ll just be a quitter that rationalizes his quitting.

    • Danger & Play

      If someone isn’t smart enough to cross-reference Rules 1 and 4, then they are probably on the wrong website.

      • Robert

        Did you ever write a post about how to cheat and not get caught? I thought you did…

  • All or Nothing

    D&P, great post. It really struck a chord with me.

    Reading through all of the points have reminded me of my own personal struggles that I have been through over the last 3-4 years. Part of me would love to go on a long rant divulging every detail, but instead I will stifle my desire to talk about myself and instead talk about the inspiration behind this wonderful post, Arnold.

    The first point reminded me of a mantra I have quietly repeated to myself over the last few years, “Never give in, never give up, not until the last dying breath.”

    This is where Arnold has shown himself to be a superior man.

    He became a bodybuilder because he was not great at sports.

    He became a movie star once he started to move past his prime.

    He took office once his movie career began winding down.

    Now with a relatively old and frail body, and a public image that has been denigrated by his extra-marital relations, he uses his last two assets, mind and persona, to market himself through writing and media.

    This is where Arnold is the epitome of man. He continues to strive no matter what the setback may be. By making a continuous effort to grow and evolve, Arnold never fails. Rather he faces temporary obstacles only meant to be overcome.

    He never gives in, never gives up, and he will continue to move forward and succeed until the last dying breath leaves his old and crippled body.

    • Danger & Play

      You’re welcome to talk about yourself. I’ve said this before and mean it. The blog is mine and the comments are yours. Unless a comment is haterade or something odd ball, readers should feel free to post anything about themselves that is relevant to the post.

  • Sean Tessier

    Great piece man. To find what you suck at can be really hard. So the advice to go all in is critical. It’s only if you go all in that you get proper feedback about your skills (and can determine your relative rank). If you quit not having that response, you have no idea if you suck at something because you didn’t put in effort, or because other people are just more uniquely qualified at that niche.

  • anon1

    great posts man, i have been listening to your podcasts as well [listened to the first and 3rd, going back to the second later] and damn interesting stuff.

    might be commenting a bit less, but rest assured you and victor from B&D have inspired the hell out of me.

    I’ve started up a blog this week, and posted some articles. I am building towards writing a few books on shit i know well, and making myself a proper writer [only honed through the fires of customers/viewer critique, and time].

    I booked a day off work , and went all out in the morning. got the site set up, codified some thoughts and ideas i’ve written down over a few months, and i have a plan.

    had a lovely chicken and vegetable laden meal, for lunch, and beasted it at the gym managing to raise my numbers of a few of my select weights exercises. then lamb, more chicken, and some fresh vegetables.

    best day i’ve had in a long time man. doing the shit i wanted to do, making some progression in life, and knowing though the journey may be hard, its damn rewarding.

    i am making plans to reduce my shitty office work hours, and have a few more days off a week to allow me to maximise my self improvement both in health and business.

    i gotta give part of the credit for the inspiration from reading your work man. this stuff isn’t just writing it builds men, man.

    • Danger & Play

      Awesome. Let us know when you’re blog is up.

  • Kronos1978

    Great content, as usual!
    But your new design is strange and distracting and the design of the linked content in the Toolbar on top looks unprofessional. Sometimes, less is more…

    Just as an anecdote: I’m from Austria like Arnold, and it is funny and entertaining to see how people and politicians here always lick his ass and he regularly doesn’t give a shit and behaves condescendingly towards all the asslickers. Great guy!

    • Danger & Play

      Whenever I change the design, people write in to let me know they hate it! 😉

      The new design presents the information in a more accessible way (category and monthly archives are up front as are links to juicing information and podcasts), and it just looks bad ass. Of course I’m biased as I did the design work myself.

  • Kronos1978

    The design until 2 days ago was the best you ever had…I also like the new toolbar incl “Read this to see if you belong here”…bust if you click it, what follows looks odd and not of the same style as the rest. Also the forest to the left is…but it’s your blog, so you make the rules.

    Also a big thumbs up for introducing podcasts.

    • Danger & Play

      When that design went up guys were saying the one before it was the best.

      People reflexively dislike change. That’s why most stagnate and fail to grow.

      • Kronos1978

        In principle, I fully agree with that statement…and layout is a matter of personal taste.

        However, let’s keep growing together.

        P.S.: I currently prepare to setup the first manosphere blog in german – unbelievably, there are approx. 100 million people speaking german and there isn’t a single good manosphere site in german. You guys in the US are far more advanced in that respect…

  • Hugo

    I partially believe in rule no. 1, you need to learn what you’re not destined. Putting up with the pain of sucking is perhaps too much for some people. The ego gets in the fucking way, and they naturally opt for a road without potholes and hairpin turns. But sometimes you dont have to quite go through an exhaustive list and suck at every, everyone has SOME kind of idea what they’re decent at or have natural talent in, and that’s great. Talent provides a nifty headstart but it still wont make you the best – it needs to be refined and smithed over and over again for years at a time.

    Thanks for the article – will defo pick up this book sometime soon.

    • Danger & Play

      Your blog looks good, but I only see 4 posts on the front page. I’d throw a few more up if I were you.

      • Hugo

        Cheers for the tip Mike, I’ll tweak that part soon.

        By the by, personally you and Victor are two figures that have moved me into action.

        Also, I’m not too suprised that Victor mentored you on your blogging journey too, his seems to echo a little in this blog.

        • anon1

          ditto. i have about 4 manosphere tabs on rotation for the brief moments of free time i get after work each day

          D&P. bold and determined, goodlookingloser [lots of actionable advice] and finally the christian mcqueen podcast for banter and something to listen to in the background when i’m doing something

          • Hugo

            If you have room for one more I would recommend as well.

        • Danger & Play

          Funny story. I thought Victor was ripping me off. He thought the same thing about me. We just happened to have a strikingly similar worldview.

          Here’s when I first mentioned B&D:

          • Hugo

            I admit I had a chuckle reading that post. The world has a way to bring minds together doesnt it?

            When I read B&D and D&PI find myself constantly nodding in the articles. Shaking and remolding many of the previous thoughts and ideas I once had.

            Diggin’ the new motto btw, Average to Alpha.

          • Danger & Play

            That’s the beauty of the Internet. If you think like 1 in 1,000 people, it’s hard finding like-minded people even in a large city. (If you live in a small town, you’re screwed.)

            With the web, you’re connected to hundreds of millions of people. You can form “small towns” of people who encourage and inspire and mentor and help one another.

          • Hugo

            I currently reside in a small town of 20,000, after making the choice to move away and get a new perspective on life for awhile. Essentially it’s helped me take the bullshit out of life for awhile.

            With your estimation, theres only 20 guys out here that would share similar ideas and views as mine. I dont like those odds. Thank fuck for the internet and D&P.

  • Drexel

    Building a crew is on my mind a lot these days. My old crew has kind of fallen away over the past several years… they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) keep up, and now we have not so much in common. They’re still there, but I have less and less use for guys who are comfortably settling into middle age. The new crew is slowly starting to materialize, but it’s not fully realized yet. Work to do, as ever.

    The new design looks strong from here. “From Average to Alpha”… very good tagline. It’s more inviting, inclusive, but still strong.

    I need to think about how to blog about some of these concepts myself. My work involves a ton of writing, finding energy to do more at a high standard of quality might be a challenge. But it calls. Maybe I’ll set up something simple this weekend and crank out a few posts, see how it feels.

    • Danger & Play

      Thanks for your feedback. If you’re going to start a blog, check out this deal from Victor (of Bold & Determined):

  • Fortis

    Hey D&P,

    I work as a tutor and I always get my students who hate reading to read “education of a bodybuilder.” They almost all say, “wow, what a great book.” I, too, take inspiration from Arnold’s life. He had WAY more going against him than I did, but he made it work. My dreams aren’t a tenth as epic his are. This is not to say I don’t have vision, but that my vision does not involve the limelight.

  • James Mark II

    Spot on. Ive tried out for Major League Baseball, Pro Football and nearly the NBA (plantar fasciitis) and running track and field professionally. Ive tried and failed at things, but i move on. Ive probably tried and failed ad more things at age 34 than most men in their 80’s, but I still continue to hammer and chisel away. Great blog and maybe next time in Vegas we can meet up. Yea, thats me at Ballys.

  • Riz

    Good post. I especially agree with surrounding yourself with other motivated or successful people. The people I spent a lot of time with were dragging me down big time and although it could be rough cutting ties, sometimes it just needs to be done.