Schwarzenegger’s most important rule of all for attaining success: “Work your butt off.” Sage advice from the Austrian Oak.

Like all of us, Arnold Schwarzenegger has his moral failings. We know what they are since he’s a public figure, but if we’re honest with ourselves we know that we too are “warped timber.” Given that, the question becomes:  How did a scrawny kid grow up to become the Austrian Oak, and can the principles that helped bring him success be applied to the rest of us? There’s a video that’s been on YouTube for quite some time that highlights Schwarzenegger’s “Six Rules for Success.” I believe they can be inspiring to anyone, in any field.

As I’ve noted before, it’s been my experience that those who are serious about lifting weights tend to have a conservative streak in them — or at least seem to be more open to the worldview than my other friends and acquaintances. The weights are about tough love, and Arnold does a great job imparting their wisdom here:

Now of course, people ask me all the time, they say to me: “What is the secret to success?” The first rule is: Trust yourself. But what is most important is that you have to dig deep down — dig deep down — and ask yourself, “Who do you want to be?” Not what, but who? I’m talking about not what your parents and teachers want you to be, but you. I’m talking about figuring out for yourselves, what makes you happy no matter how crazy it may sound to the people.

Rule #1 is: Trust yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks.

Rule #2 is: Break the rules.

We have so many rules in life about everything. I say break the rules — not the law — but break the rules. It is impossible to be a maverick or a true original if you’re too well behaved and don’t want to break the rules. You have to think outside the box. That is what I believe. After all, what is the point of being on this earth if all you want to do is be liked by everyone and avoid trouble? The only way I ever got anyplace was by breaking some of the rules.

Which of course brings me to Rule Number 3: Don’t be afraid to fail.

Anything I’ve ever attempted, I was always willing to fail. You can’t always win, but don’t be afraid of making decisions. You can’t be paralyzed by fear of failure or you will never push yourself. You keep pushing because you believe in yourself and in your vision. And you know that it is the right thing to do and success will come. So don’t be afraid to fail, which brings me to Rule #4, which is: Don’t listen to the naysayers.

I mean, how many times have you heard that you can’t do this and you can’t do that and it has never been done before? I love it when someone says no one has ever done this before, because when I do it that means that I’m the first person who has done it! So pay no attention to the people who say it can’t be done.

I never listen to “you can’t.” I always listen to myself and say, “Yes, you can.” And that brings me to Rule #5, which is the most important rule of all: Work your butt off. Leave no stone unturned.

Mohammad Ali, one of my great heroes, had a great line in the 70’s when he was asked: “How many situps do you do?” He said, “I don’t count my situps; I only start counting when it starts hurting. When I feel pain, that’s when I start counting because that’s when it really counts. That’s what makes you a champion.” And that’s the way it is with everything: No pain, no gain.

While you’re out there partying, horsing around, someone out there at the same time is working hard. Someone is getting smarter and someone is winning. Just remember that. Now if you want to win, there is absolutely no way around hard, hard work. None of my rules for success will work unless you do. I’ve always figured that there were 24 hours in a day.  You sleep 6 hours. There are 18 hours left. Now, I know there are some of you out there now who say, “Well wait a minute. I sleep 8 hours or 9 hours.”  Well, just sleep faster, I would recommend.

That takes me to Rule #6, which is a very important rule. It’s about giving back. Whatever path that you take in your lives, you must always find time to give something back. Something back to your community. Give something back to your state or your country.

Let me tell you something: Reaching out and helping people will give you more satisfaction than anything you have ever done.

Remember these six rules:

1. Trust yourself
2. Break some rules
3. Don’t be afraid to fail
4. Ignore the naysayers
5. Work like hell
6. Give something back

Well said, Arnold. Well said, indeed.

Related: ‘Pumping Iron’ inspires, decades after its release

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

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