In recent years, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been taking shots from the tabloids regarding his personal life, his record as governor, and his recent movie comeback.
But instead of chuckling at late night jokes at his expense (whether deserved or otherwise) the success-minded will ask themselves some questions: do I have the strength within me to achieve everything I ever wanted? Can I even dream that big? Arnold’s words, taken from a 2009 USC commencement address demand harsh introspection and action.
Dig deep down and ask yourself who do you want to be? Not what but who? What is the point of living on this Earth if all you want to do is be liked by everyone and avoid trouble?
Arnold started with no money, no connections, no U.S. citizenship, no command of the English language. There were a million reasons he should have just stayed in Thaal, Austria. This video features lots of imagery of Arnold in his prime, but it’s really less about him (he got his) and more about you.
Watch it, and put your dreams against his template for success.
In the show American Pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz look for treasures in the sheds and barns along the highways and back roads of the country. When they find something of value, whether a rusted Indian motorcycle or bullet-riddled Coca-Cola sign, the duo usually square off against the seller in the classic showdown:
>>>The seller comes in with a high number looking for room to wrangle the best price he can get.
>>>The buyer fires a lowball shot looking to get the seller to cave as low as possible.
That’s the way it’s done, right? This approach assumes there will be a “winner” and a “loser.” But in one particular episode, the pickers encountered Jocko, a California dive shop owner with a classic collection of vintage dive gear. The negotiations for a brass dive helmet began as per the above, but then something happened when new information came to light. A diving accident had left Jocko’s son Travis paralyzed, and the rehabilitation was very expensive.
Suddenly, Jocko’s motivation for selling items from his collection became crystal clear. He needed money to pay for the expensive physical therapy. But his goal was not to “make money,” his goal was to help his son walk again. Once the pickers knew this, the tone changed. They realized they could help Jocko toward his goal by finding the best prices for his items. They could negotiate as allies, instead of adversaries.
If a buyer can understand the motivations of a seller by asking open-ended questions, there doesn’t need to be a conflict. They can help each other win. And that’s good for everyone’s business.
Plan “A:” You can do something you might dislike (deal with angry customers) and get paid.
Plan “B:” You can do something you enjoy (watch movies) without getting paid at all.
You can do “A” as long as you can put up with your circumstances and you need the money.
You can do “B” as long as you can go without a paycheck.
You probably can’t do A or B indefinitely. So you might opt for Plan “C,” falling into a life working a job you don’t like and augmenting it by zoning out in front of your flat screen during the off hours. You can get away with this for years. People understand.
Or you can make a new plan, Plan “Z,” and put on paper how long you intend to stay at your job, your options for moving within the organization or moving on, deciding where opportunities are and how you can leverage your skills, experience and interests to take advantage of them. But that takes some work, and you could fail. And the TV has 900 channels.
It’s easy to be a critic. It can be fun. You’ve got Twitter, Why not pile on?
The artist, Paul Emsley, had to create the painting and unveil it to the world. He had to do the work and take the risk. Most of the critics have probably never painted anything since grade school. Most have never met the Duchess of Cambridge, either, yet believe they are experts on her likeness.
To be a good critic, however, is not easy. You need to bring a level of experience and expertise to the table and demonstrate it with a carefully constructed critique. It’s easy to rate a film online. Click, there you’re done. It’s not so easy to sit down and write a review like Ebert does and make a living at it.
But most critics don’t approach critiquing as a craft.
There are plenty of tools available to you. So today will you criticize, or create?
We spend a lot of time and effort trying to “beat” the other guy. But trying to beat others is a complete waste of your time. And it’s not how the pros do it. Paul Kingsman talks about how he trained as a competitive swimmer not to beat others, but to win by competing against himself. “We took the view that the objective was to swim two minutes; I had no guarantee that two minutes would be fast enough to win,” Kingsman says. “But I hit my time and on the day, it was good enough for a medal.” As it turned out, Kingsman nabbed that Olympic medal by only four one-hundredths of a second!
The new year is a good time to think about what we want to excel in. But as we do it’s important to note that winning–-be it gold, silver, or bronze–-involves factors that are often out of our control. You can’t control how fast the other guy swims or how many products another businesswoman sells. You can only set challenging, measurable goals for yourself and work to achieve them.
In doing so, though, you may find others starting to try and compete with you, but then they’ll be making a mistake that you no longer make.