You’ve succeeded at everything you’ve ever tried. What’s the secret to winning at life?
Harnessing the power of your mind. Before every set of an exercise, every scene in a movie I was shooting, and every political speech I ever made, I always rehearsed what I was going to do in my head and visualized it going exactly the way I wanted it to. When you can see it in your mind and convince yourself it’s true, then it’s easy to make it so in real life. At that point, you just have to go through the motions. Of course, things come up that can knock us off our game, but you have to expect those things.
They’re part of your vision, too. When I competed against Sergio Oliva the first time, and he posed his tremendous lats, I shied away. Regardless of how good my body looked, I let him beat me mentally. Because I felt like a loser, I became one. But when we rematched a year later, I was able to convince myself that I was the winner before the contest even began. As a result, no matter what Sergio threw at me, I had the guts to match him pose for pose, and I took the Mr. Olympia title from him. As strong as the body is, the mind is where true strength comes from. One of my favorite examples is the Russian weightlifter, Vasily Alekseyev, who was the first man to clean and press more than 500 pounds. Think about that: Few men ever bench-press 500 pounds, let alone press it overhead. Nevertheless, Alekseyev wasn’t intimidated. He did it, then American Ken Patera did it, and others have followed. That kind of feat will never be easy, but once someone has the courage to do it, it happens again and again. Whatever your goals, in the gym or in life, you must make up your mind about them first. Create your vision, then work your butt off to achieve it.