Do the best you can and you will feel good even if you fail — Total Recall Book Excerpt

In this excerpt from the book Total Recall, Arnold made me think with a brilliant statement. He exemplifies with his own experience that we feel bad after failure, not due to the failure, but because we haven’t done everything we could to get a successful outcome.


“That afternoon at the gym, I thought more about my loss to Frank Zane. Now that I’d stopped feeling sorry for myself, I came to harsher conclusions than those I’d reached the night before. I still felt the judging had been unfair, but I discovered this wasn’t the real cause of my pain. It was the fact that I had failed—not my body, but my vision and my drive. Losing to Chet Yorton in London in 1966 hadn’t felt bad because I’d done everything I could to prepare; it was just not my year. But something different had happened here. I was not as ripped as I could have been. I could have dieted the week before and not eaten so much fish and chips. I could have found a way to train more even without access to equipment: for instance, I could have done one thousand reps of abs or something that would have made me feel ready. I could have worked on my posing—nothing had stopped me from doing that. Never mind the judging; I hadn’t done everything in my power to prepare. Instead, I’d thought my momentum from winning in London would carry me. I’d told myself I’d just won Mr. Universe and I could let go. That was nonsense.

Thinking this made me furious. “Even though you won the professional Mr. Universe contest in London, you are still a fucking amateur,” I told myself. What happened here never should have happened. It only happens to an amateur. You’re an amateur, Arnold.”
Staying in America, I decided, had to mean that I wouldn’t be an amateur ever again. Now the real game would begin. There was a lot of work ahead. And I had to start as a professional. I didn’t ever want to go away from a bodybuilding competition like I had in Miami. If I was going to beat guys like Sergio Oliva, that could never happen again. From now on if I lost, I would be able to walk away with a big smile because I had done everything I could to prepare.”

Excerpt From: Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story.”

Karl Niebuhr

Karl Niebuhr

I'm Karl! I like to read, learn and share knowledge
Karl Niebuhr