Why Arnold Schwarzenneger's advice about success is flawed and what to do instead

“Forget plan B. To test yourself and grow, you have to operate without a safety net.” (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Who can argue with Arnie?

His success, those biceps, the cigars the size of cricket bats, which he effortlessly smoked: it would take a brave (or foolish) man to argue with him, but let’s think about his statement, FORGET PLAN B.

In 2010, 33 chilean miners became trapped nearly a mile underground when part of the mine they were working in collapsed. The story created headlines around the world, particularly when news emerged that they were alive, one mile underground and a rescue attempt was put into action.

When the miners were rescued in a stunning feat of engineering several months later, three holes had been dug known as Plan A, B, C, because the experts knew that the chances of a successful rescue were remote and that naturally, some of the holes would veer off target as the drilling intensified to deeper levels. Thankfully, one of the holes was successful, it was plan B!

FORGET PLAN B?

REALLY?

IN EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE?

  1. Arnie’s point is to fully commit to your goals if you want to achieve them and that without a high level of commitment, your ability to hang in there when times are tough, will be compromised and you’ll be less likely to achieve your goals (fair point).

  2. Any advice, inspirational statement with an ‘always’, ‘never’ or ‘you must’ sentiment is destined to let you down from time to time because life is complicated. With motivational quotes and ‘rules for success’ from experts and billionaires, test them, question them and pick them apart. A course of action which worked well for one person in one situation may well be disastrous for another person in entirely different circumstances.

  3. Some people actually find it easier to focus fully on plan A, when there is a plan B and plan C in the background. Having a plan B and C doesn’t make them focus any less on plan A, it simply gives them more confidence to move forward, in the knowledge that their overall planning has been thorough and well executed.

To sum up, my advice for success (not that I have Arnie’s biceps, money, fame or cigars) is:

Plan thoroughly and live boldly. Make the most of your time to achieve your most important dreams because time is a precious gift. Time is given to people in unequal amounts, we never know how much we’ll get, and we never know when it will run out.


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