The Power of Goal-Setting: Arnold’s Blueprint

“When I said I wanted to get into acting, people said ‘No…be realistic’.  Even when I ran for Governor they said, ‘Are you kidding me, you can never win, give it up!’  But I didn’t pay any attention because I said to myself “What did I do when they said ‘you can’t go to Germany, you can’t compete in the Junior Mr. Europe’?”…I did not listen to the ‘no’, I went and it worked out.  And I used that attitude as a blueprint for the rest of my life.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold's BlueprintPeople who know me know that I love documentaries and I love sports.  So it makes sense that I’m a huge fan of ESPN’s documentary series 30 for 30¹.  I haven’t yet seen them all, but I’m determined to do so (you folks in the U.S. can catch them on Netflix, I think).  I’ve had more success in making time to watch the 30 for 30 shorts, a series of mini-documentaries that run between 8 and 15 minutes in duration.  On a recent vacation day I crammed in a half-dozen or so of these shorts, and I consider it time well-spent.

While each is powerful, remarkable, or hilarious in its own way, both for the stories told and the quality of storytelling, the one that has struck me most profoundly is “Arnold’s Blueprint”.  From ESPN, “Arnold’s Blueprint focuses on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s teenage years in the Austrian Army…This 10-minute film focuses on the years before he was the ‘Universe’s Perfect Specimen,’ when a young Schwarzenegger seized upon an opportunity to use the sport of bodybuilding to catapult himself to international stardom.  The short documentary (shows) how the young Austrian farm boy’s mandatory military service played a critical role in his journey to international fame.”

If I were writing the description, I might’ve done so a little bit differently: “This 10-minute film focuses on the years before he was the ‘Universe’s Perfect Specimen’, when a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, through focus, determination, and a clear (and audacious) goal, let nothing prevent him from catapulting himself to international stardom.”

To me, this documentary illustrated the power of goal-setting.

I consider myself to be fairly terrible at goal-setting.  Despite knowing how useful (or even critical) a development tool goal-setting is, I seldom actually set goals².  Perhaps it’s my very annoying fear of failure, or perhaps I’m too comfortable in my current circumstance; whatever the cause, I simply don’t set explicit goals even though I know I should.  I suspect that the true culprit is that I just don’t know where I want to go.  From any single point in life, I know which of the available “next steps” I want to take, and sometimes I can even see a few steps ahead, but I haven’t yet determined where those steps are ultimately leading.  In fact, I truly envy those folks who know what they want to do and where they want to go – those folks who have a dream and are inexorably moving towards it.  I’ve sort’ve stumbled my way along, figuring things out as I go.  I’ve done so with a commitment to hard work, self-development and helping others, but the ultimate destination is still shrouded in fog.

Not so with Arnold: time and again in the documentary, he recalls how his goal, which was crystal-clear in his mind, kept him motivated to overcome every obstacle with which life presented him.  Nothing short of death was going to prevent him from achieving his dreams.  That same determination, and his past experience overcoming obstacles, have served as his blueprint through life: “When I said I wanted to get into acting, people said ‘No…be realistic’.  Even when I ran for Governor they said, ‘Are you kidding me, you can never win, give it up!’  But I didn’t pay any attention because I said to myself “What did I do when they said ‘you can’t go to Germany, you can’t compete in the Junior Mr. Europe’?”…I did not listen to the ‘no’, I went and it worked out.  And I used that attitude as a blueprint for the rest of my life.”

Inspired by Arnold, I’m determined to set some clear goals during this (Canadian) long weekend.

¹To learn about the origin of the 30 for 30 series, read “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN”.

²Two distinct goals that I remember are “Get a job at Sandvine” (that sounds silly but there’s an interesting back-story that I’ll share at some point) and “Lead Fusion FC to be the David Forsyth Inter-League Cup champions” (the toughest rec soccer tournament in South-Western Ontario, a Champions League of the rec scene; winning the DFILC was the five-year goal of Fusion FC when I founded the club).  These two goals collided a bit two years ago, when Fusion made it to the final and I was unable to play and manage the match due to some business travel…we lost 2-1 in extra time.  Boo-urns!

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Posted in Everything, Leadership, Management
2 comments on “The Power of Goal-Setting: Arnold’s Blueprint
  1. […] I’ve written before about The Power of Goal-Setting […]

  2. […] Success take commitment, and it doesn’t come easily (one of my favourite examples of being committed to achieving a goal is Arnold’s Blueprint). […]

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