12 things I learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Documentary

12 things I learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Documentary

Nov 14, 2023 · 6 min

Jeremy Perkins

Arnold is an inspirational character, there is no doubt about it. His charisma and the undeniable success is both inspirational, and enviable. In an interview with the Eurovision winning Ukrainian Hip-Hop band Kalush about their to American Tour and they were asked: “What was the greatest moment of your trip to the USA?” They answered without hesitation that the best moment of the whole trip was meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Here are 12 lessons from the Arnold docuseries that really made me think.

Not a self-made man

Arnold clearly stated that his success and fortune is not something he built on his own. Throughout his life, he has met with various people who have acted as friends, partners, mentors and so on. Thanks to these friendships and connections, he has been able to do the things he has done, and achieve the great success that has made him one of the most known names in the world.

Always have a next mountain top to climb

Arnold is a testament that when you yourself don’t set limits, there are none. He is a firm believer that you should always find a next mountain when you understand that you are at the top of the first one. Arnold was the king of the bodybuilding world and then he decided he needed to do whatever he could to become a Hollywood action star. Once he was a successful action star, he set his eyes on the next mountain, which was politics. Although even more ambitious than the previous ones, with strong effort and dedication he managed to become the Governor of California. There are a lot more things he has been successful in, but these 3 big mountains are the most prominent and probably the most different from each other.

It will fail, but you need to move on

Life is about failures and setbacks. No matter how hard you try, you will not be successful all the time. With all failures, you should not let it slow your pace and just keep going. Failure is knowledge and experience and it will help you improve in the future. No matter how painful and hard the failure is, you need to move forward and shake it off. I like the mindset that all the failures and mishaps are valuable as thanks to them, you are where you are now and with the experiences and knowledge you have now.

Have a role model and learn them in depth

Everyone needs a role model or a few. For Arnold, it was an American bodybuilder and later action star Reg Park. From his youth, Arnold was fascinated with him and learned everything he could about him, so that he could become as good as him and then become better.

If they say it is crazy, then you need to prove them wrong.

In your life, you will meet a lot of people with limited imagination or limited guts. If people don’t understand your ambition and plans and call it crazy, this does not mean you need to stop. This is actually an indication that this idea or direction is something that could go somewhere. It is as if this feedback is telling you to increase the pace and prove that you are the one who will make it happened and prove everybody wrong.

Not understanding and not knowing is not an excuse.

If you have no experience or knowledge, it is never an excuse to not move forward. The only thing you need is will and motivation. If you want to understand something or know how to do something, then you should do everything in your power to learn it. Either by finding someone who can teach you or reading whatever materials you can get your hands on to learn. Everybody has started with nothing until they have learned and created the knowledge and experience. I like the example of hiring tactics from a sawmill chief: “I never hire a person with 10 fingers, as it shows that this person has no real experience with saws”.

Early bed, early up

Arnold is famous for his quote about not wasting time and just sleeping faster to have more time to work on things. While it may feel like motivational and great advice, it is not that easy. Going to bed early and waking up early has a lot of pros. While I’m not advocating for the 5am club, I am saying that getting a good night of sleep will already give you more energy and put you ahead of many others. Waking up early will give you a feeling of victory, and this is a good feeling to start your day with.

You need to have fun

Keeping your life all serious all the time is boring. Life is as joyful and as adventurous as you make it. The happiest people are the people who never lose their inner child and can have silly fun and be playful. Never let yourself get slow and old, and always stay agile and young.

Have a great friend

Arnold really valued his friendship with Franco Columbo and said that he is sad for people who don’t have such a friend beside them. Humans are social beings, and most of our experiences are very strongly connected to people we are sharing them with. Having a real friend, you can rely on and share everything with, is a superpower that will help you through thick and thin.

Promote it or fail

You need to promote what you are doing. It is not like you are the artist or the actor and you just show up and others should do the promoting. You should be 100% in for what you are doing. For Arnold, it meant that when he was starring in a film, he would do as much as possible to promote the film and get all the coverage possible.

Competition tactics

According to Arnold when ever you are competing with someone. 50% of your effort should be the main thing and 50% should be influencing your opponents. He did some sneaky tactics in bodybuilding competitions by making his rivals not feel sure about their form and he did some sharp comments in the Governor debate shows to make the other parties feel uncomfortable and throw them off their game. These tactics worked and allowed him to tilt the scales in his favour.

Be useful

Being useful every day will give everybody the feeling of success and happiness. Being useful means doing small things that help you, your family, bets or anybody else. This can be cleaning, doing the laundry, or just organizing something. It is a small effort and many times done automatically, but seeing the outcome will make you more happy. For Arnold, his favourite simple useful thing is shovelling the shit left by his animals and giving them food.

Coincidentally, Arnold went all in with the last learning and created a whole book dedicated to it, so it seems it’s the strongest bit.

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