Geoff Thompson • • 8 min read
Seriously, Stop Complaining and Start Doing: A Case-Study of Schwarzenegger
People complain a lot lately.
Have you noticed?
They complain about not having enough.
“I don’t have enough time. I do not have enough resources. I’m not lucky enough.”
Be honest. Have you ever thought something similar?
Deep down, despite the lamentation, I know and they know that these excuses are a lie. It simply not true. We all have the same amount of time in our day. That is a fact.
Kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers, sportsmen and tycoons all get the same 24 hours. It is what they do with their allotted minutes that set them apart from everyone else. We all have access to the same amount of knowledge; every book ever written, by the greatest men and women of our species is available now, free to all, in the libraries of the world.
We all have access to the same amount of knowledge; every book ever written, by the greatest men and women of our species is available now, free to all, in the libraries of the world.
But success will not fly through the window and land on your lap. You have to go out there and get it.
God feeds the birds, as the old saying goes, but he does not put the food in their nests for them. The onus is on you.
If you need influence or guidance or inspiration, do not wait for it to come to you, instead, make it your definite intention to seek it out.
People have big ideas. I hear them all the time. Big ideas are not unique, they are falling from the trees. Anyone can have big ideas.
On their own, dreams are impotent. It is huge action that turns the germ of an idea into manifest reality. If you want to transform some good information into a great reality, you need stop complaining and start doing.
If you want your life to be massive, then massive action is the essential ingredient. Action in your study and action in your work.
The knowledge that you take from books comes to you as raw energy; we call this energy information. To make energy valuable, we need to convert it.
I read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography, one of the hardest working men (I would say) on the planet. In the book, he talked about his first bestseller, which was his encyclopaedia of bodybuilding.
He recalled how he got told in no uncertain terms that although the book was good, it fell into a minority genre; it had a very niche market so he should not expect significant sales.
Arny is not a man that likes to think or do small…
During the Mr. Universe competition some years before, he was facing the colossus that was Lou Ferrigno (the Hulk) in the showdown. Arny was so sure he was going to win, he rang his mother before going on stage and told her that he had already won the contest.
When he told Ferrigno this (see the film Pumping Iron), you could literally see his fighting spirit leak from his veins.
Arny decided, against all the “sensible” advice and piss-poor odds that he was going to get to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list.
He took his book and a small team of people and went on the road. He visited US cities the length and breadth of America, promoting his book to everyone that would listen.
True to form he climbed to the very top of the New York Times Best Sellers and defied all his critics.
But so what?
Inspiring information I think you’ll agree. But on its own the words remain just that; information. Raw energy waiting for conversion.
At the time of reading Arny’s biography I had just released a book of my own, Watch My Back. I decided to emulate his success to get my niche book onto the Sunday Times Best-Seller list.
I followed his advice step by step. I set up a thirty-two city tour from Portsmouth right up to Edinburgh Scotland, and I promoted it on and in every medium. I did talks in over fifty shops. I spoke on the radio, I appeared on TV, I got profiled in the papers, and a glut of magazines ran interviews with me.
Martial Arts Illustrated even did a pull-out poster listing the details of my tour. I spent three days in London alone just walking (and tubing) going from shop to shop, signing stock, talking to customers and staff and selling books. We sold bucket loads. Within the first week of publication, we hit the top 20 in the Times hardback best-seller list.
The next year, I sold three times as many copies in paperback and hit the list again. Me and (my wife) Sharon were pretty much on the road promoting our book for three months at a time. It was a very exciting time, and we achieved our goal. It also helped spill my reputation onto the world stage; to date we are in print in 11 different languages and sell copies all around the world.
The success of the book also helped open doors into the world of TV and theatre and cinema. In fact, Watch My Back is now a major feature film (Clubbed). It’s had released in the cinema, sold to fifteen different territories, was on TV and premiered both in London’s West End and Paris France. I took information and inspiration from a book, and I converted it into massive action, the results of that action are still sending positive ripples through my life even now, many years after the event.
When I was a full-time martial arts instructor, it was usual for me to train three times a day physically. It was my job. It was what I did. When I wasn’t training I was teaching, when I wasn’t teaching I was studying martial arts and when I wasn’t studying I was writing about it (prolifically), when I wasn’t writing I was conversing with like-minded people and when I was asleep I dreamed about my arts.
Read: Albert Einstein’s Incredible Work Ethic: Lessons on Creativity and Contribution
It was my employ, it was my passion, it was my life. I made martial arts a magnificent obsession. What appeared from the outside to be a heavy work schedule was actually just me having a great time. My industry was hardly work at all because I loved every minute of it. I was excited when a new book dropped through the letter box for me to read. When the monthly MA magazine got delivered I downed tools and devoured it from back to front. My every day started and ended with martial arts. And I take that kind of dedication, that kind of massive action into everything I do.
I have a finite amount of time in this incarnation and I want to do something magnificent with it. And so should you.
People think they are limited, they believe that the universe works in limitation, and they are sure that fortune favours some more than others.
My experience of the world tells me that there are no limitations other than those I set myself, the universe in infinite and will give you as much as you want, in fact the more you draw from it the more it will proffer. There is abundance, and it is all yours.
The universe certainly does favour some more than it favours others, this is very true. In fact it says as much in the Holy Quran, God favours those who strive, he favours not those who do not strive.
The Christian Bible concurs, ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will open unto you. Asking and seeking and knocking are actions.
To ask, to seek and to knock is to strive. And the more you strive, the more you get.
So the universe favours those that put themselves forward. What this tells us is that you (and not the universe) decide who the universe favours and who it does not. If you sit on your arse all day and do nothing, nothing much will happen, you will not be favoured because you are simply not working the law.
If, however, you get out there and strive, then you become favoured. That my friends, is exciting. It is inspiring. To think that you can court the favour of great forces just by striving for it is an amazing revelation.
Eddie Izzard, one of the foremost comedians of our day (John Cleese called him ‘the lost python’) is a great example of a man that strives. He is a warrior. He employs massive industry to wring the very best and the very last out of every allotted hour. As well as being a genre-breaking standup comic, he is also a Hollywood actor. He even taught himself French so that he could perform his act in Paris in the native tongue.
You may or may not have heard, he has just completed forty-three consecutive marathons in fifty days, that is over a thousand miles of running. How incredible.
Forty-three marathons and Eddie is a non runner. He didn’t even train for it. He is a man that does not believe in limitations, if there is something that he wants to do, he does it. If he doesn’t know how to do it, he learns how to do it. If what he wants to do scares the shirt out of him, he still does it anyway. If time is against him, he manipulates time so that time works for him.
Read: Learning From Superhumans: The Incredible Fitness and Success of Jack LaLanne
Eddie says that he was massively inspired by the ordinary men and women of the first and Second World War, because when called to duty, these ordinary folk doing ordinary every day jobs turned into super beings. One minute they were living mundane lives working in factories and tending to children, the next they were flying airplanes, driving tanks, manufacturing munitions, healing the wounded and saving the world – in short, they developed high-level skills and great courage in very short periods of time.
They did this because a demand was placed on them. And that demand drew miraculous abilities from within them, abilities and skills that they did not even know they had. Eddie was talking about this on daytime television, and the interviewer quipped that dryly, ‘all we need is another war then.’
But it is not war we need, it is demand, and that demand is most potent when it is placed on us by ourselves. Eddie created the demand to learn French by setting up a gig in France, thus forcing him to learn the language in quick time. He placed the demand on himself to run forty three consecutive marathons, by promising publicly to do it for charity. He manufactured demand started a small war inside him that said fuck I’ve got to do it now I am committed. And of course this created discomfort, and it was hard, but discomfort is where the warrior collects his power, and ‘hard’ is what warrior types have for breakfast every day.
We have unfortunately fallen into a period where people have become soft; they want to make omelets without breaking any eggs. They are looking for growth in comfort, there is no growth in comfort, other that the comfort we find in becoming comfortable with discomfort.
What Mr. Izzard has done by running his forty-three marathons is much bigger than raising money for a very worthwhile charity. He has created an ‘allowing.’ When an unfit man runs forty three consecutive marathons, it automatically allows us all to think bigger. Think better. Think grander. Doing an ordinary marathon, by comparison, suddenly seems very achievable, even mundane.
And when you strive, when you think and act bigger than ever before, you too will create an allowing, so that others stuck in their small fearful realities will be able to break free. Perhaps they will never do standup in a foreign language or run a marathon a day for a whole month, but if it is enough to break them out of a depression, or an illness or an unfulfilling life, then it will have all be worth the while.
Creating big realities also creates an allowing for us: when we achieve what we once thought impossible it instills in us a belief that anything can be achieved, everything can be achieved, even impossible things.
Eventually, like Lewis Carol’s white queen we will be thinking six impossible things before breakfast.