Lessons from Ahhhhnold

I’ve just finished listening to the audiobook version of Total Recall – My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Not only is it very entertaining to listen to Arnold read the first and last few chapters, but I learned quite a lot from this incredible guy.

I was under the assumption that he was just a bumbling muscular idiot that shot people in movies and spoke in brief one-liners.

Was I ever wrong.

Some Arnold Facts

  • He had a brother growing up, who died in his early twenties in a car crash.
  • His father was a policeman in Austria.
  • He’s very good at math and crunching numbers, earning quite a lot of money when he first moved to California from real estate.
  • He’s a Republican who married into a Democratic family.
  • While a champion of fitness, he enjoys smoking cigars.
  • While an environmentalist, he says Hummers are some of his favorite cars to drive.
  • His success was pointed, goal-oriented, and systematic.
  • He rose to fame and fortune in bodybuilding, acting, and governing by deciding to be the best at each of them.

It’s those last two listed above that really inspired me.

Arnold believed that, like bodybuilding, every part of his life could be successful if he followed the right path and “did the reps”. Everything was repetitions to him.

Becoming the 5-time world champion bodybuilder? Do the reps in the weight room and repeat your poses.

Flip-cock a shotgun while riding on a Harley without looking as the Terminator? Reps and more reps.

Giving a speech before the United Nations on the environment as governor of California? Reps, reps, and more reps (he practiced his speech more than 50 times).

There are 24 hours in the day

(This will be my last spoiler)

One time, as Governor, Arnold gave a speech before a group of college students. He was asked a difficult question about what he (as a representative of the state) was going to do in order to make things easier for college students.

Rather than talking policy, the Governator talked one on one with this college student, making the question very personal, and used examples from his own life of how he had overcome hardship.

He explained how even as a teenager learning bodybuilding for the first time, he needed to use his time wisely.

“Theah ahh twenteeey fouah howas in de day” he said, “Cchow much of dose ahh you wastingk?” – Challenging all those in attendance (and those reading/listening to his autobiography) to take a hard look at where our time is spent.

This stood out to me the most. I’ve become pretty lax with the time that’s given to me, and doing a time-audit, I find that I waste a lot more of it than I realize.

Get to the choppa!

Have you ever noticed that people who have changed the world seemed to be in a real hurry to do so?

Maybe it’s because they have taken note of the very short amount of time that they have on the earth.

The thing I really liked about Arnold in reading this book? He isn’t showing signs of stopping.

Yes, his days of governing are over. Yes, he has endured some family problems as of late. Yes, he’s not in as great of shape as he once was.

But he’s still striving, still pushing toward his goals, still improving himself.

Listening to a guy like this, I believe him when he says, “I’ll be back”.