To put things in focus, This is an update of an article I originally wrote in June of 2007. Did you know the Terminator...er...Mr. Governor of California, erstwhile "Conan the Barbarian", turned 60 that year? I had never really looked into his history before, but, now that I have, it fascinates me.
It's really not so much a question of WHAT has happened to Arnold Schwarzenegger over the years, as much as HOW it happened. You see, to me, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the kid from the small town in Austria (I'm two years older, so he's a kid to me), typifies what the term "American Dream" means. He also is a great example of all those things the motivational specialists talk about. He's almost a living textbook for goal setting, motivation, and achievement.
Despite the fact that the title of this article has the word "History" in it, I don't really intend to go into the history of Arnold Schwarzenegger as much as I want to take a look at the dream.
However, the manner in which things eventually played out, the history of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the history of America are now tied together rather tightly. It all started with a dream...and part of it was an American dream.
Anybody with a computer can find out pretty quickly that Arnold Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947, in the small Austrian town of Thal. There's where any "history" could have ended. Had he not had a dream, he might have simply followed in his father's footsteps and eventually become the chief of police or other offical in Graz, Thal, or some other small Austrian town. Fortunately for him, he was encouraged by his father, Gustav, to participate in sports, and his older brother, Meinhard, provided him with not just a playmate but a role model.
Actually, things might have turned out quite differently, as Arnold's big brother Meinhard was the more naturally athletic of the two. However, it was Arnold who had the dream, and that's what made everything else happen.
For a major portion of his teen years, only a bona fide fortune teller or claivoyant would have been able to picture the future John Matrix, his role in the movie "Commando", in the six foot tall, 150 pound Austrian kid. On the other hand, his commando raid on the gym at Graz's soccer stadium, where he and his friends broke windows so that they could get in and work out, might have been a forewarning or omen of what he would eventually become. In movies like Predator and Commando, he endured make-believe suffering and hardship, but he started getting his taste of the real stuff when he had to exercise in a gym sometimes so cold that he still recalls his hands sticking to the chinning bar.
It takes a lot of dedication, and guts, for a kid from the sticks of Austria to stay with a dream of becoming the world's best bodybuilder...
and an actor...and a member of the Kennedy clan...and the Governor of California...but he did.
As we tend to find in so many successful lives, a portion of luck figured into Arnold's success, but through it all runs a common thread. He
has admitted this in many interviews. But, he also knew what he wanted, and he was willing to do what was necessary to get it.
It was in another commando-like move, when, as a 20 year-old tank driver, he even deserted from the Austrian army for a few days and slipped
into Germany so that he could compete in, and win, the Junior Mr. Europe event in Stuttgart. Oh, by the way; upon his return to Austria, he was caught and spent 7 days in jail, but when the word of his win got around, he became a hero to the Austrian army and was held up as a model of courage and tenacity.
In an interview in 2006, Tom Venuto, the well known natural bodybuilder, fitness coach, author of "Burn the Fat. Feed the Muscle", and co-author of "Fit Over 40", was asked what he thought was "the one thing most needed to change a person's lifestyle and improve their health."
What was his response?
He said, "A committed decision to reach a predetermined specific goal, combined with burning desire, followed by immediate, massive action repeated consistently for as long as it takes until your goal is reached."
That sounds like it could be the mantra that Arnold Schwarzenegger might have chanted on his way to becoming Mr. Olympia (7 times), a Hollywood actor (43 movies), the husband of Maria Shriver (Kennedys - lots of 'em), and the current occupant of the California Governor's mansion, now doesn't it?
It also sounds a great deal like what all the motivational experts such as Zig Ziglar
and Napoleon Hill have been trying to get across for almost a century.
Well, if you could look at the Arnold Schwarzenegger history story with glasses that allowed you to see behind the scenes, you would regularly see one "predetermined specific goal, combined with a burning desire" after another. You would see a man who realized that to reach each goal, he would have to take "immediate, massive action repeated consistently for as long as it takes" to reach each goal.
Sounds to me as if perseverance is a major issue of success once you have set your goal!
Even good ol' P.T. Barnum, another, slightly different proponent of the American Dream, and perhaps best known for the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus, had this to say in his classic essay, "The Art of Money Getting or Golden Rules for Making Money":
"How many have almost reached the goal of their ambition, but, losing faith in themselves, have relaxed their energies, and the golden prize has been lost forever."
Time and again, people like Napoleon Hill, author of "Think and Grow Rich",
have extolled the virtue of being willing to stick to the path through thick and thin, once you know what the goal is.
It's not really the dates and events, however, that make up the important Arnold Schwarzenegger history story, or even his version of the American dream.
It has been his willingness throughout his entire life to pursue his dreams and goals despite all sorts of obstacles, and in spite of the negative comments of a multitude of naysayers, that has taken him to where he sits today...not Conan's throne perhaps, but a permanent place in the history books. It was this willingness to pursue the American dream wholeheartedly that in many eras, including our modern one, has been the subject of so many fictional and non-fiction books alike.
In today's world where so many long for something to lift them above the commmon level of their daily lives, there is a vast market for self-help and self-improvement products. All sorts of programs and processes are offered for consideration of those wanting a formula for getting a piece of the American Dream. However, again and again, once the overlay of words and technique is stripped away, the setting of goals, and the constant, unrelenting, striving to achieve those goals is at the heart of almost all true success stories.
Like so many others who have achieved success on their own terms, Arnold Schwarzenegger knew how to focus energy on goals.
Perhaps we need a one-time hick from a small town in Austria to remind us of what we keep saying we have, or want, or wish was still available to an ordinary person in America. Maybe, as at least one other article has previously stated, "Arnold Schwarzenegger is the definition of the American Dream."
Donovan Baldwin is a semi-retired freelance writer and a University of West Florida alumnus currently residing in the Dallas - Fort Worth, Texas area. He is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and supervisory positions. However, his main pleasures have long been writing, nature, health, and fitness. In the last few years, he has been able to combine these pleasures by writing poetry and articles on subjects such as health, fitness, weight lifting, yoga, weight loss, the environment, global warming, happiness, self improvement, and life. You may find more articles by Donovan Baldwin at http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Donovan_Baldwin.
He also has a blog on Fitness After 40 at http://fitness-after-40.ws
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