Sunday, January 29, 2012

Visualization + Determination = Success


 Arnold Schwarzenegger has achieved the unthinkable.  Moreso than being the seven time winner of Mr. Olympia, star in multiple Hollywood movies, or elected governor of the 8th largest economy in the world, Arnold has become so famous that his last name is in the Microsoft Word dictionary.  This is particularly symbolic because when he was an aspiring actor, critics told him his name was too long for people to remember let alone spell.  Arnold has faced opposition in every one of his endeavors and there is something simple yet powerful about his life which has been responsible for his success.



First find your dream, despite the environment
From an early age, Arnold had to fight to hold onto his dreams.  He grew up in a strict, Roman Catholic household.  His family was never well off, and he still remembers the day his family was able to buy a refrigerator.  He lived in a time when he felt suffocated by his parents’ expectations, financial austerity, and the aftermath of WWII/socialism.  Despite feeling caged, Arnold was able to visit the local movie theater where he was inspired by films of bodybuilding legends like Reg Park, Steeve Reeves, and Johnny Weissmuller.  Arnold reflected, “As a teenager, I grew up with Steve Reeves. His remarkable accomplishments allowed me a sense of what was possible, when others around me didn't always understand my dreams.”  The films he watched inspired Arnold to become a bodybuilder and eventually an actor so that he could emulate Clint Eastwood and John Wayne who were also his idols. 

Combine your dream with lots of hard work
Arnold is truly among the 1% of people because he was not only able to dream impossibly big dreams, but also dedicate himself to those dreams relentlessly.  One of Arnold’s early girlfriends commented on his determination, “He's as much a self-made man as it's possible to be—he never got encouragement from his parents, his family, his brother. He just had this huge determination to prove himself…” Whether that determination manifested itself in working out 5-6 hours a day while working a side job, to thinking outside the box and taking ballet lessons to help him gain an edge over the bodybuilding competition, Arnold’s approach could best be described as Machiavellian.  Arnold knew he had to answer to the most important critic in his life—himself. 

 “It would make me sick to miss a workout ... I knew I couldn't look at myself in the mirror the next morning if I didn't do it."

 Application:  (Difficulty: Hard)
1.  “What would you try if you could not fail?”  Silence all the critical voices in your head and list all your dreams as quickly as possible.  Once you are done, take the one which resonates with you the most and flesh it out with as many details as possible.  Visualize yourself achieving your dream.  What do you see? What can you hear, smell?  How do you feel? 
2.  Break your dream down into actionable short and long term goals.  Review your dream and track your progress weekly.  

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