Farmer 1: “I got myself a dog that is so smart, I give him my grocery list and he puts it all in the basket.”
Farmer 2: “That ain’t nothing. My dog is so smart, I just give him the keys to the truck and he has the groceries put away before I even get home.”
They ask a third farmer if he also has a dog who can do all the things their dogs can do.
Farmer 3: “My dog can’t do the things your dogs can do because he is too busy running the store where your dogs do business!”
The moral of the story is if you are going to dream, dream big.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was not just a big dreamer, but a ridiculous dreamer. His story makes the story of the farmers look downright plausible. As with many great American stories worth knowing, The story of The Arnold doesn’t begin with an American. It begins with an emigrant: one who was never considered to be most likely to succeed. But succeed, he did, and in multiple disciplines.
That is the thing about ridiculous dreamers. When you see interviews with Arnold, you realize that he was not a man of one ridiculous dream, but many. That is the way of dreamers. They dream and conquer, then dream again. You, too, can be a ridiculous dreamer. These are the lessons we can learn from Arnold:
Be Your Best Self
Act one of the life of Arnold was to transform his body from that of a scrawny laughing stock to the iconic paragon of health and strength. His path to being his best physical self might differ from yours. For you, it might be daily exercise by yourself or with a friend. Or it might be with gym classes and a personal trainer. How you get there is less important than making the decision to overcome the obstacles to you becoming your best self.
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder like Arnold. Physical fitness is not about having the largest visible muscles. That is just one expression. It could be achieving and maintaining the ideal fat to body ratio. It could be maintaining a certain weight. Or it could be a matter of getting a clean bill of health from your doctor every time you visit. When the first dream is to become your best self, the rest fall into line.
Arnold understood the importance of having a strong, supportive, and goal-oriented partner by his side as he made his way to success. The actor married the love of his life, Maria Shriver, after nine years of courtship. The two tied the knot on April 26, 1986 at a Catholic church in Massachusetts.
As you might imagine the wedding was as upscale and lavish as the couple including grand floral arrangements, wedding balloons, candles, trendy bridal fashions, and wedding sparklers. They even had Caroline Kennedy serve as the maid of honor.
Although the marriage didn’t last, Arnold and Maria went on to raise four children and created memories that last a lifetime. He wasn’t afraid to take a chance, dream big, and most importantly, love hard.
Make Your Mark
Have you watched every Schwarzenegger movie ever made? Then you know that his movies are a lot more fun to watch than the ratings suggest. When the work of the present Oscar winners are long forgotten, people will still be reciting the most memorable lines from Schwarzenegger films. Arnold made an indelible mark on entertainment and culture in a way that few people can boast. As always, the secret is a mixture of hard work, good luck, and taking advantage of opportunity when it comes knocking.
You don’t have to become a famous actor to make your mark. It is a matter of being great at what you do. Like many things, fulfilling your dream is a matter of 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. You can’t become truly great without putting in your 10,000 hours. Ridiculous dreaming means that you are willing to do a ridiculous amount of hard work. Most of that work will go unthanked and unobserved by anyone other than yourself. If you want to be seen by others for your skills, you have to first shine brighter than all the others who are battling for attention. If you dream big enough, you will be motivated to work hard enough to achieve it.
Pass It On
Arnold didn’t stop at being his best self and making his mark. He was compelled to enter public service so he could help pass on opportunities to others struggling to fulfill their own dreams. Regardless of what you think of his politics, few deny the purity of his motives. Governor Schwarzenegger was a public servant. You don’t have to be the next governor to be a benefit to your community. When you become your best self and make your mark, complete the cycle of ridiculous dreaming by making it easier for others to do the same.
At the end of the day, the story of the Arnold is about us. If you have not yet become your best self, made your mark, and found a way to pay it forward, dream bigger.