3 Ways to Be Your Best Self By Arnold Schwarzenegger

After becoming the bodybuilding champion of champions, Arnold Schwarzenegger was mocked and told that no one his size, and with such a strong accent, could make it in Hollywood.

Of course, they stopped laughing when he became the world’s highest-paid actor of his time with his movies grossing a total of $1,883,952,029.


He was ridiculed and told to give it up when he challenged to become the governor of California. Those laughs quickly turned into votes as the “Governator”, rose to the top of Mount Olympus.

Here we look at 3 lessons from one of the most successful icons of the last 50 years.


1. No Pain No Gain

“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll go through the pain no matter what happens” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold uses muscle building as a metaphor for pushing beyond your limits and achieving your goals despite the challenges.

A champion doesn’t give up at the first sight of pain or sign that they have reached their perceived limits. You must always be looking to improve and earn that extra inch.


From Great to the Greatest

In the 60’s a group of young African American brothers just the world by storm. With four no.1 hits the Jackson 5 were a phenomenal success. Most of us would leave it at that and consider the job done, but not Michael Jackson.

Jackson went on to become the most successful male solo artist of all time with a record 13 number one hits, including the best-selling album of all time, Thriller.

Much like Schwarzenegger, Michael Jackson did not sit on his laurels and think, “job well done”. He pushed himself beyond the boundaries of what success meant in his field, and became one of the biggest stars in history.


Growing Pains

The difference between being a success and not being a success is having the tenacity to keep pushing yourself despite your failures or accomplishments.

A true warrior does not settle for mediocre finances, average results or an “okay” relationship. Abundant cash flow, awesome results, and passionate relationships are the mark of a real champion.

The road to glory isn’t always high fives and happy faces. If you want to ride the path of immortality, then you must overcome the challenges and push beyond your limitations.

When asked about his so-called failed attempts at inventing the light bulb, Thomas Edison said – “I have not failed 700 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work”.



Challenge yourself to complete a task or goal that you have been putting off. Keep it simple. If we set a goal that is too grand to early, we will likely fail.

Maybe you are trying to give up coffee or add more fruit to your diet. Rather than going cold turkey or becoming a fruitarian, start by having one less coffee a day or one extra piece of fruit and work up from there.

By keeping it simple we lay the foundation for triumph.


2. No Retreat No Surrender

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Nick Vujicic is the author of the book ‘Life Without Limits’. As well as being an author, Nick is a musician, actor, and speaker. His hobbies include fishing, painting, and swimming. Oh, and he has no limbs!

It would be easy to give up the race if you were born without any arms or legs, but you won’t see Nick crying about the hand he was dealt (excuse the pun). Instead Nick travels the world sharing his message of perseverance and determination.

“If I fail, I try again, and again, and again. If you fail, are you going to try again? The human spirit can handle much worse than we realize. It matters how you are going to finish. Are you going to finish strong?” – Nick Vujicic


What’s It Worth?

When things come easily to us, we tend not to value them.

Some people offer incredible services free of charge, yet they have to battle to give them away. The moment they charge however, people suddenly take notice. Why? Because they have to invest in it, they have to earn it!

If we train for a marathon, work towards earning a promotion or rekindling a sour relationship, we feel a sense of pride when we achieve our goal. Why? Because it was a challenge, it was difficult.

This helps us to grow stronger. We reinforce our self-believe, knowing that, despite the struggle, we’ve got the grit and determination to battle on and conquer our goals.


It’s Easy When It’s Easy

Double Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell put 8 years of emotional pain, suffering and dedication into training for two Olympics. It took just 6 minutes to cross the line first. Winning the rowing race was the easy part. The real tears were shed on the training ground.

You would think he would account winning two gold medals at the Olympics as his greatest achievement. You would be wrong.

Following his Olympic heroics, he was training for a triathlon when he was knocked off his bike and suffered a traumatic brain injury that would forever change his life. In his autobiography, Touching Distance, he writes

“Nothing is more painful and challenging than trying to overcome this head injury. The Olympics was a breeze in comparison.”

He goes on to say that his greatest achievement is recovering from the injury and learning to live a normal life again.

Many of us go do great things when we are talented at something like James was with rowing. Our true potential, however, shines though when we are faced with the unexpected and survive it.

When we learn to surf with no limbs like Nick Vujicic, or continue to create beautiful symphonies whilst going deaf, like Beethoven, we really discover what we are made of.



Find something you are struggling with such as learning to drive or new language and think about the consequences of not achieving it.

Failing to learn to drive could mean that you can’t take the kids to school. Not learning a new language may result in your forever remaining a tourist in your new vacation home.

Consider all of the consequences of failure and use them as a catalyst for pushing through when the going gets tough.


3. Don’t Just Survive, Thrive

“For me, life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

What Arnold means by this is that we must always strive to be, do, and give more. We must never become complacent and sloppy.

As a species, we are the most magnificent beings on earth.

Just like the apes, we came from the trees. But what have the apes achieved in millions of years? They are still swinging from branches. Dolphins are still swimming in the ocean, and birds are still making nests from twigs.

Humans, however, have created computers, automobiles, the internet, and space stations. From nothing but sticks and stones, we have somehow created airplanes, virtual reality, and telescopes that can see other galaxies.

The power of our creative mind and flexibility of our bodies has allowed us to transform rocks into rockets.

Your purpose is to make use of these incredible gifts and fulfil your fullest potential.


Science Fiction

Until Roger Bannister ran a mile in under 4 minutes; science told us that it was physically impossible. Today, high school-ers prove that what was once considered “impossible” is just a limiting belief system.

We are not supposed to sit by idly letting life happen to us. We need to grab it by the balls and seize our opportunities.

Sergey Brin, an immigrant from Russia, was following in his father’s footsteps, pursuing an education in mathematics and computer science when he met Larry Page. Larry proposed an idea to Brin that horrified his father.

Instead of listening to the good-natured wishes of his father, Brin when out on a whim and partnered with Page. Today that partnership is known as Google.


Eat Like A Horse

We must keep pushing ourselves to the maximum, reaching higher and higher.

While Microsoft was sitting comfortably on their throne as lords of the computer, Steve Jobs came up with the idea for the iPod, closely followed by the iPhone & iPad, the current leaders in mobile technology.

While Nintendo was trying to reinvent Mario for the 18th time, Sony, a company known for music, created the PlayStation. With almost 400 million units of all devices sold, it’s safe to say that Sony did not play it safe and simply stick to what they knew.

In order to keep on growing, we must remain hungry and keep pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone. We must break free of our self-contained shackles and continually work on upgrading, improving, and developing our skills and talents.



Think of something that you are already good at and consider how you can improve upon it.

Maybe you are a natural motivator. You’re good, but imagine how much better you would be if you actually took a coaching course?

Put in the effort by pushing beyond your current capabilities and you will be rewarded with excellence.



Here’s a quick recap on the 3 ways to be your best by Arnold Schwarzenegger:

  • No pain, no gain
  • No retreat, no surrender
  • Don’t just survive, thrive
  • What have you learnt from Arnold Schwarzenegger? Leave a comment below.

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