There is no better example of a champion’s mindset than that of the legendary bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger. His first published book, Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder is one of the most motivating books I have ever read, and I have read it many times over.
My last experience was on a cruise ship sailing through the Caribbean islands. I purposely took the book with me because I wanted to read something that would keep me motivated and hungry, staying keen to the idea of physicality in an environment keen to the idea of excess.
The thing about cruise ships is that they are fertile grounds for the mediocre and are essentially full of those lost souls that have all but ceded to a life of absolute emptiness. Many are old, at the twilight of their lives, but many are young, hellbent on endless hedonistic pursuits.
Carrying Arnold’s book helped to keep me focused because Arnold was perhaps the most focused person that anyone could ever read about. Even at a young age, he maintained a steadfast vision for greatness:
I knew I was going to be a bodybuilder. It wasn’t simply that either. I would be the best bodybuilder in the world, the greatest, the best-built man. – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Once he discovered bodybuilding, he became relentless in his pursuit to become the world’s greatest built man. It was an internal mindset that drove him to do things ordinary people wouldn’t do. He was able to dream bigger, to set his sights on massive goals that would cause everyone around him to flinch when said aloud.
The litmus test for a great vision is to see the shock and awe of mediocre people when you explain to them exactly what you plan on doing. The clarity of purpose alone will be enough to stupefy most aimless wanderers.
You’ll often hear the disillusioned cry of why.
Doesn’t that cost a lot of money and what if you don’t get it? That seems like a lot of unnecessary sacrifices, why don’t you just focus on living life? But Game of Thrones is on tonight and its the best part of my sad life.
YOU MUST NOT GIVE IN: STAY HUNGRY
Arnold’s story is motivating because of his response to the naysayers, many of which were his own family, and then his unyielding internal belief in himself which gave him the ability to make it happen.
I remember certain people trying to put negative thoughts into my mind, trying to persuade me to slow down. But I had found the thing to which I wanted to devote my total energies and there was no stopping me. My drive was unusual, I talked differently than my friends; I was hungrier for success than anyone I knew.
Arnold understood the power of being different. He recognized that there was a certain feeling of being great, that people will eventually come to respect you once you have proven them wrong.
He used bodybuilding to transcend normalcy, a vehicle to the top of the world.
Once he mastered the champion’s mindset through bodybuilding, he turned it onto every single thing he did. He was always chasing more success, in business, Hollywood, and even politics.
This is the answer when you ask the question: how did a kid born in Austria that struggled to speak English rise to become the Governor of California?
He was able to do this because he was great at lifting weights?
Yes, but it took a mindset that most people just don’t have.
The model was there in my mind; I only had to grow enough to fill it. My dreams went beyond a spectacular body. Once I had that, I knew what it would do for me. I’d get into the movies and build gymnasiums all over the world. I’d create an empire.
That path to reach this pinnacle point was not an easy one. Arnold had to endure hours upon hours of training, pushing his body past perceived limits, crushing the ideas of what was possible.
Only through this crucible, was he able to do this in every other aspect of his life.
That is what builds the champion’s mindset. A strong and relentless pursuit of a vision; it becomes the central focus of a person’s life, blurring the line of basic human understanding.
I knew I was a winner. I knew I was destined for great things. People will say that kind of thinking is totally immodest. I agree. Modesty is not a word that applies to me in any way— I hope it never will.
For a normal person, it won’t make any sense.
Waking up early when you don’t have to. Working out for several hours, inventing new ways of lifting based on an uncanny feeling of your own body, all for a prize that won’t manifest until many years later.
It is beyond human understanding. It doesn’t jive well with a pursuit of comfort. And it doesn’t quickly impress anyone.
It is the champion’s mindset.
Read More: Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder
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