When it comes to charting new territories and achieving seemingly unattainable goals, no one has been more successful than the versatile Arnold Schwarzenegger. From bodybuilding to becoming a huge movie star in Hollywood and then finally realizing his political ambitions, he has done it all.
In one of his award acceptance speeches, Schwarzenegger shared the key contributing component to his continued success. He said, “I think, personally, that having a vision is the most important thing for one’s success. If I wouldn’t have had a vision, I wouldn’t be standing here today.”
Schwarzenegger recalled his first vision of coming to the United States when he was a kid. One day in school he watched a documentary about America, and he knew that that was where he wanted to end up. Next, he came across a bodybuilding magazine and on the cover was Reg Park, Mr. Universe at that time who was soon becoming Hercules star. He read that Reg Park came from humble beginnings, yet still built himself into the most muscular man in the whole world and became a movie star. As he read, he became more and more certain he had that vision very clearly laid out. He envisioned to be a champion on that same stage where Park won the Mr. Universe title, and then to move to America, and like him, get into movies. From that moment forward, everything that he did, regardless of how hard he had to work or how much he had to struggle, he was okay with doing that because he had uncovered his passion and knew what his purpose was.
Schwarzenegger said, “I saw myself very clearly, and I was so convinced that if I started training up to five hours a day like a fanatic, believing that one day I will get there. When people saw me working out five hours a day, smiling, having a great time they all thought this guy must be crazy… but I couldn’t wait to lift another 500 pounds, I couldn’t wait to do 100 chin ups, I couldn’t wait to do another 1,000 sit ups because every day, every step of the way, every weight I lifted was taking me one step closer to turning this vision into a reality.” That’s why, he suggests that we must always discover our vision first. Once that is done, the rest follows and falls into place.
As he trod his path in Hollywood, Schwarzenegger was met with resistance at almost every step of the way. But he said that his visions kept him motivated during those difficult times. When people in the movie business told him in the ’70s, “Dustin Hoffman is the star. Al Pacino is the star. Woody Allen. Those are the sex symbols of the ’70s,” and that his thick accent would mean that he would never be a leading man in a major movie, Schwarzenegger turned a deaf ear to those comments. And we all know how big of a star he became, proving his naysayers wrong.
Again, when he felt that he had accomplished all he wanted to accomplish in Hollywood and the movie world, and changed his direction one more time to politics, people said he was crazy and he would never be elected as the Governor of California. Critics said that no one would ever take a former bodybuilder and actor seriously. Schwarzenegger shared, “I said to hell with those people, that’s a load of crap!” He became the Governor of California and again proved everyone wrong, like he had been doing his entire life and career.
In the end, Schwarzenegger shared an invaluable nugget of wisdom in his speech. He said, “If you don’t know where to go, you don’t end up anywhere. The best airplane in the world, the most sophisticated ship, but if the captain or pilot doesn’t know where to go, you are not going to end up anywhere. Vision is the most important thing.”