Schwarzenegger? You must be joking!
Not even a little bit. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a living legend. Through sheer willpower he overcame great difficulties. His own father thought Arnold was crazy when Arnold told him he wanted to be the most muscular man on the planet — which, to be fair, sounds a bit odd coming from a 10-year-old kid living in Austria in the sixties. Comedian Bill Burr lays it out perfectly:

“That dude should be unloading trucks in Transylvania. That should have been the height of his success. But because he is a great man he had the balls to move to America. Became famous for lifting weights. I lift weights, nobody gives a shit. He lifts weights, becomes super famous! Did he rest on his laurels? No. Next challenge, I’m going to become an actor despite the fact that nobody can really understand me. Against all odds he starts making movies. GET DOWN! THERE’S A BOMB, GET OUT OF THERE! Becomes one of the biggest blockbuster stars of all time. What are you going to do next, Arnie? I think I am going to marry a Kennedy. There is no f*cking way you can do that. Bam! He does it. Cherry on top, I’m running for governor of a state I can’t even pronounce. And he wins the election.”

If you are still not impressed by now, you are either the biggest sceptic to ever walk the face of the earth, or you’re Alexander the Great. For others, it might be nice to know that Arnold is willing to share some of his insights.

Arnold’s Formula
In a commencement speech Mr. Schwarzenegger gave at the University of Southern California in 2009, he dictated six rules which he believed were crucial to his success. These rules may suit you, too. However, not everyone is made for Schwarzenegger’s level of success. Just like not everyone is built to become a 300-pound NFL star. Most people don’t even aspire those levels of success. But still, there is little doubt that we all can learn something from Arnie.

Before we jump into the six rules, I would like to give some perspective as to why these rules worked so well for Schwarzenegger. Mr. Schwarzenegger possessed some traits common to successful people. For starters, he was extremely confident. He himself said he didn’t start out this confident, but by the time he was beating all his opponents he could hardly help but feel sure of himself. Furthermore, from an early age Arnold had a clear vision of who he wanted to be. This gave him a tremendous head start and helped in setting and meeting specific goals right from the start. Moreover, instead of slacking off, he was creating a sickening work ethic for himself and a crazy top athlete’s level of motivation. Schwarzenegger also thrived under pressure and actually sought for it. He would impose strict deadlines on himself, even if he had no formal deadlines like in a competition. All these things proved valuable traits on his quest for success.

“If I had listened to the naysayers, I would still be in the Austrian Alps yodelling.”

Six Rules to Success
1. Trust yourself
“But what is most important is that you have to dig deep down, dig deep down and ask yourselves, who do you want to be? Not what, but who.” Arnold trusted his vision and didn’t let anybody change his mind. Without this great trust in himself, he would probably have settled for something less than what he actually wanted. So have trust in your own believes.

2. Break the rules
“We have so many rules in life about everything. I say: break the rules. Not the law, but break the rules.” People don’t like change. They are hesitant about adopting new points of view and they will resist it. Only a person who breaks some rules is able to change things. Arnold is the embodiment of breaking the rules. He himself said: “The only way I ever got any place was by breaking some of the rules.” So break some rules, people.

3. Don’t be afraid to fail
I think this one speaks for itself. All great men and women that ever walked this earth failed at some point in their lives. Most of them even failed a great deal of the time. But without this failure, it is very unlikely that they would ever have succeeded.

4. Don’t listen to the naysayers
As Arnie put it: “If I had listened to the naysayers, I would still be in the Austrian Alps yodelling.” And again this is true for so many great people. Naysayers just don’t get anywhere. Or as Confucius put it: “The man who says he can, and the man who says he cannot… are both correct.” Either surround yourself by positive people or ignore the naysayers.

5. Work your butt off
“Just remember, you can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.” Arnold Schwarzenegger worked incredibly hard for his place among the greatest. His focus and sickening work ethic is truly admirable. Working hard did not only bring him success in bodybuilding, it was also of great use to him when he went into acting and later into politics.

6. Give something back
“Whatever path that you take in your life, you must always find time to give something back, something back to your community, give something back to your state or to your country.” We are not alone on this planet and we all profit from what other people have done for us. So give something back. You might even enjoy it. As Mr. Schwarzenegger said: “And let me tell you something, reaching out and helping people will bring you more satisfaction than anything else you have ever done.”

It can be concluded that Schwarzenegger is a unique individual. Few people have such determination, and therefore not many will reach his level of accomplishments. But his lessons go for all of us. Take away from it what you want. Trust your instincts, break some rules, be prepared to fail, don’t listen to the naysayers, work like hell, and in the end give something back. If you do that, you might just get what you want.