Thoughts on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Inspiring Autobiography

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s massive autobiography, close to 700 pages long, is filled with all kinds of motivational wisdom.

The Austrian Oak has lived an incredibly fascinating life over the course of his 65 years (and counting), earning it all through hard work and determination. He grew up poor, in a small Austrian village, and became one of the world’s biggest celebrities. This didn’t happen by luck or by accident.

Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by
Arnold Schwarzenegger

All of Arnold’s great accomplishments throughout his remarkable career followed the same simple recipe. It’s a recipe that anyone can apply to their own life, to bring about positive changes and increase their measure of happiness.

  1. Have a clear vision of what it is you want to do and who you want to be.

    Throughout his book, Arnold uses the phrase “The vision had formed in my mind. Once the vision was in his mind, he was locked in.

    As a teenager, Arnold knew that he wanted to become a champion bodybuilder and move to America. Later, he knew he wanted to transition from the gym to the big screen and be a leading Hollywood actor. Finally, he wanted to spend time in public service and help fix what he felt was a broken political situation in California. He saw the governorship as the way to make this vision a reality.

  1. Embrace the power of setting goals.

    Every year, Arnold would write down his goals on paper to ensure that he stayed focused.

    As a bodybuilder, he charted weightlifting progress, writing down his totals and always looked to achieve a personal best. When Arnold worked towards becoming a leading man in Hollywood, he set financial goals for himself, making sure that with each movie he starred in, his pay would double. ‚ As governor, Arnold kept a list of things he wanted to accomplish in the top drawer of his desk. He crossed them off, one by one, as he got them done.

  2. Put in the work.

    This is what really sets Arnold apart from the rest.

    Arnold’s personal drive, especially in his younger years was remarkable. The man let nothing get in the way of his personal missions.

    He went AWOL from his Austrian Army duties to attend his first bodybuilding competition in Stuttgart, Germany, even though it meant jail time upon his return.

    After he burst onto the bodybuilding scene, he trained harder and longer than anyone, to the point that he said winning the competitions wasn’t much of a high, because he knew that he had outworked everyone and that victory was a foregone conclusion. (There’s that vision becoming a reality!)

    After having accomplished his goal of becoming a great bodybuilder and coming to America, he didn’t have an “I’ve made it slump where he took it easy. He kept pushing.

    As a young man in California, he continued to train in the gym, studied at local colleges, took acting classes, worked and ran his own construction business, conducted real estate business and maintained a mail-order fitness business. Talk about crushing it.

    Arnold applied the gym concept of “reps, reps, reps to all aspects of his life. He would rehearse the stunts in his movies at least 10 times before attempting a live take on camera. As a politician, he practiced his speeches 40 to 50 times, so that he would be prepared and relaxed when the moment came and the cameras rolled.

    There are countless examples of this kind of work ethic buried in the pages of this book. It’s incredible.

Other interesting points worth mentioning:

  • Arnold grew up very poor. He talks about how his home had no running water. As the youngest member of his family, he would bathe in the water that had already been used by his parents and older brother, which according to him, still beat trekking outdoors for a fresh bucket of water.

  • The book, while being 700 pages long, is actually a relaxing and enjoyable read. I couldn’t help but to hear his voice in my head as the words came off the page. He sprinkles in German words throughout the text, only amplifying this effect. He’s also not afraid to use colourful language, dropping f-bombs in just about every chapter, even when talking politics. The term “federal fuckups is used.

  • The final chapter is devoted to the recent news of his lovechild. He’s pretty matter-of-fact about the whole thing and addresses the situation head on. It’s pretty clear that his wife Maria Schriver (a Kennedy, by the way), knew all about the child for years. She scheduled a therapy session for him the day after he left the governor’s office to confront him about it.

  • For those who aren’t aware, Arnold is a Republican. Even though he partied hard, smoked marijuana, etc, his rationalization for supporting American conservatism makes sense when you understand his background. He had come from Austria, a very socialist country and he loved the entrepreneurial spirit and individual freedoms that America encouraged. At one point in the book, he talks about when he first started his construction business in California, it blew his mind that all he had to do was go down to a local government bureau and get a license. In Austria, things were much more complicated. Also, to be frank, a man who works as hard as Arnold does, has no need for government help, simple as that.

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a little motivational reading.‚ Having now finished the book, I feel like we’re old friends and that I actually know him. That’s the sign of a well-written autobiography.

‚ Cheers to Arnold for a good read.


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