Terminating His Competition

Envision this: you’re born two years after World War II, deep in conflict-stricken Austria. You’re raised in a strict, abusive, Nazi-influenced household. Determined to escape, you move to a foreign country where you learn the language, start a successful business, conquer the international bodybuilding stage, star in over 50 Hollywood films, and hold Californian governorship for 8 years. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a man that feared mediocrity and thrived off scrutiny. He was anxious to matter.

Schwarzenegger discovered his passion for weightlifting when he was 15. Deemed to be too skinny for soccer, he became obsessed with sculpting his physique, breaking into the 5-days-a-week gym so he didn’t miss a day of training. Arnold’s father saw this as a waste of time, often preventing him from attending. Arnold wilfully responded to his ‘house-arrest’ by turning anything around home into make-shift weights, so he never missed a day of training. Realizing his potential, he later competed and won Junior Mr. Europe during his mandatory army service; where he was punished with a one-week sentence in military jail. This didn’t deter him. Schwarzenegger went on to win an unprecedented five Mr. Universe titles and six Mr. Olympia crowns, being – still to this day – the youngest ever Mr. Olympia at the age of 23.

With aspirations to move to America, he started up a bricklaying business in California to sustain his lifestyle as a professional bodybuilder. From the profits of his first venture, he then dove into the health and fitness industry, selling bodybuilding equipment. Building himself quite the reputation, Arnold was given the opportunity to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a Hollywood actor. He began by starring in the 1970’s film ‘Hercules’, which then opened doors to pursue his passion project ‘Pumping Iron’ (1977). Starting to create a name for himself in Hollywood, Arnold starred in the big hits ‘Conan the Barbarian’ (1982) and The Terminator (1984). From this, he became a Hollywood icon, projecting his career to epic proportions. By his late 40’s, Arnold became one of the most recognised and highest-paid actors in the world. At 56, Schwarzenegger was impressively elected as the 38th Governor of California, a position he held for 8 years.

However, it wasn’t without tremendous difficulty and valiant perseverance that made such a long perilous road to success seem possible. Being raised in a strict, patriarchal household, Arnold wasn’t spared physical abuse when he disobeyed his father’s stern authority. Furthermore, Arnold’s father didn’t even believe he was his biological father, which resulted in Arnold’s alienation from his family. Due to Arnold’s unusual obsession with bodybuilding, his parent’s scheduled regular psychiatric sessions to deter him from his ‘false dreams’. Outside of home, Arnold was often mocked by his schoolmates for being too skinny and having no chance of making his dreams come true.

Despite speaking very little English, and having even less money to his name, Arnold decided to pack his bags and leave Austria for good. Three years into his life in America, he lost his brother in a car accident, and later his father to a stroke. Out of respect for his brother, Arnold began funding his nephew’s education and eventual emigration to America. In the early stages of his training, Arnold was told he’d never make the big stage due to his “chicken” legs; ironically losing his first Mr. Universe competition due to the lack of muscle tone in his calves. As a result of this ‘weakness’ in his near-perfect physique, Arnold altered his training program, building mass in his calves, and went on to never lose another major bodybuilding competition in his professional career. During his acting career, he was told his body was “too weird”, he had a “funny accent”, and his name was too long. Every agent in the US were against him.


“Basically, everywhere I turned, I was told I had no chance”


In a dominant Westernized industry, Arnold embraced his European background & rare skillset, turning all of his ‘negative’ attributes into a totally unique package. Determined to prove his critics wrong, Arnold went on to receive various awards and nominations during his acting career, including a Golden Globe Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Despite constant denigration and scepticism throughout his life, Arnold continued to shock and inspire the world with his sheer determination to be the very best. Today, Arnold Schwarzenegger is widely recognised as one of the most successful self-made millionaires ever; still visiting the gym at the young age of 72.


“You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.”


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