Although Arnold Grew Up Poor, He Never Stopped Believing That He Was Destined for Something Special and Unique
Arnold Schwarzenegger is synonymous with action hero — we know him as the Terminator — and his Twitter bio that reads, “I told you I’d be back,” confirms that he also has a top-notch sense of humor, among numerous other talents. However, not many people know the life story of the actor, and the more we discovered about him, the more we started to truly appreciate the man hiding behind the muscles. Let’s get to know Schwarzenegger a little bit better and find out why his success story is unlike any other.
Schwarzenegger didn’t have a close relationship with his father.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and his mother
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger was born in Austria in 1947 to mother Aurelia and father Gustav; he had one brother, Meinhard. Both brothers had to get up before sunrise to tend to their chores.
His father preferred Meinhard over Arnold, and his favoritism was strong and blatant, which came from the unproven suspicion that Arnold wasn’t his biological child. “My father had no patience for listening to or understanding your problems.”
Schwarzenegger grew up in a poor family, and up until the age of 15, he didn’t know what a shower was.
The family didn’t have indoor plumbing until the boys were teenagers.
In a vulnerable post, Schwarzenegger shared with his community, “I grew up without running water, so I didn’t know what a shower was until I was 15 and joined the gym. This basin and a washcloth were how we bathed. My brother and I would schlep the water from the well to the house, and then we would all clean ourselves — first my mother, then my father, then my brother, then me. The water was dirty by the time it was our turn but my brother and I weren’t going to schlep back to the well.”
Money was always an issue in Schwarzenegger’s household, and one of the highlights from his youth was his family being able to buy a fridge. Nevertheless, Schwarzenegger couldn’t see himself becoming a farmer or a worker in a factory, even if his parents wanted him to stay in Austria. “That was my parents’ vision, not mine. I felt I was destined for something special, something big, something unique.”
“When you have a goal, when you have a vision, everything becomes easy.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger showed promise as a soccer player, and his efforts to strengthen his leg muscles took him on the journey of becoming a bodybuilder. After seeing a documentary about the US in school, when he was 11, he knew, “That’s where I want to be.”
Later, he saw Reg Park — a 3-time winner of Mr. Universe — on a cover of a bodybuilding magazine, and that’s when he decided that was what he wanted to do. “I want to become a bodybuilding champion just like Reg Park, I want to get into movies just like Reg Park. And I want to make millions of dollars and be rich and famous, just like Reg Park. ” And he fought every single day to turn the goal into something tangible, saying, “It felt so great to know where I was going.”
Years of training 5 to 6 hours a day brought him closer to his dreams. “I am aiming for a goal. Every repetition that I do gets me closer to accomplishing that goal. I couldn’t wait to do another 500-lb squat, I couldn’t wait for the next exercise.”
5 years after he began lifting weights, Schwarzenegger won the title of Mr. Universe. He wanted to become the greatest bodybuilder in the world, which meant winning the title of Mr. Olympia. His first attempt was unsuccessful in 1969; but the next year he came back full force, winning the title, ultimately making him the youngest ever Mr. Olympia at the age of 23, a record he still holds to this very day.
After he appeared in a bodybuilding documentary, Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger retired from his muscleman career and rose up to Hollywood with his role in Conan the Barbarian in 1982. 2 years later, the iconic Terminator hit the big screen, and at this point, Schwarzenegger had stepped into the Hollywood life of success.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and his ex-wife, Maria Shriver, with 3 out of 4 of their shared children, Christina, Patrick, and Katherine in 2017
“Everywhere I turned, I was told that I had no chance.”
Agents and casting directors would always tell Schwarzenegger that his body was too weird, that he had a funny accent, or that his name was too long. “You name it and they told me I had to change it,” the actor recalled. This only made him more determined and inspired him to push harder. He took acting classes and never gave up.
Shortly after he did Conan the Barbarian, the movie director shared with the press, “If we hadn’t had Arnold’s body, we would have had to build one.” The movie was a box office success. All of a sudden, his body became an asset, not a liability.
Later, for the Terminator, Jim Cameron confirmed, “If Arnold hadn’t had that accent and talked like a machine, the movie wouldn’t have worked.” The body and accent that people have previously ridiculed him for are what made Schwarzenegger stand out and become a worldwide, unmatched success.
What’s your life goal and what steps do you take every day to turn it into reality? When you feel low on motivation, how do you pick yourself up again? Let us know in the comments.