How is everyone doing? It has been way too long since we last talked, but I hope you’ve been charging forward to the end of the year and not waiting to set your goals until the new year begins! Last email, we talked about everything from celebrating victories, shoveling shit, MMA fighting, and aging!
This month, I want to talk to you about being grateful for what we have and going after your goals.
Lessons from a Banana Peel
When I was growing up, I was the opposite of wealthy. We had no running water, our toilet was an outhouse inside the house, we didn’t have a telephone — let alone a television, and eating any type of meat was a real luxury. My brother and I got water from the well near our house every day for our family, I milked the cows next door for milk, and during the really bad times, my mother went from farm to farm begging for a stick of butter here and some cornmeal for polenta there. Forget travel – we didn’t even have the money to go to Vienna, which was 200 kilometers (124 miles) away.
Despite all of that, I never felt poor. I was always looking on the bright side of every situation and making the most of it. My mother told me that we couldn’t afford a bicycle or new clothes, so I had to wear my brother’s hand-me-down clothes and I worked at a sawmill one summer to buy my own used bicycle, and I didn’t look as hip as the other kids or have the same cool toys, but that was just my reality. I remember one time I had measles, and I was stuck in a hospital bed next to another kid for a month. Back then, your parents would come to visit you by standing outside the window. This is not exactly the ideal situation for anyone, but it turned out to be a fun memory for me. My hospital roommate, who had parents with more money than mine, had finished the banana he was eating and left the peel near his bed. I had never had a banana before in my entire life, so I thought I would give it a shot and asked him if I could have his peel. I used my teeth to scrape the leftovers off of the peel and it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. I’m not joking — I can still taste that banana peel today. Even though it wasn’t a full banana and I was in a hospital with the measles, it still made me smile and reminded me that even in the toughest situations we can find a bright spot. From that day on, he gave me his peel until we got out of the hospital and I couldn’t have been more grateful.
Looking back now, I think my big dreams came from the way I grew up. I couldn’t physically get out of the limited world I lived in. But, my mind could get out. My mind could travel to other parts of the world by watching documentaries about America and reading atlases and books about the rest of the world. I could read about my heroes and imagine myself in their shoes. In my mind, I was sitting on top of the Empire State Building and visiting the Eiffel Tower. In my mind, I was driving a Cadillac across the Golden Gate Bridge. In my mind, I was standing on stage in front of a huge audience accepting the Mr. Universe trophy. My body was stuck, but my mind wasn’t. I think that’s why I never complained or got jealous. I made my own reality. My daydreaming created my big visions and my big goals, and, eventually, reality caught up.
No matter where you are in life, negativity and jealousy won’t help you get to a better place. But, learning and taking the time to dream will transport you to another world through your books and visions and can help you build the foundation for a better life.
A lot of interesting things have happened since my last newsletter, but one of my favorites was getting to speak with LinkedIn’s Allen Blue about building a green economy. This also gave me an excuse to finally start a LinkedIn account! Everyone has been telling me for years that I need to start a LinkedIn to share my lessons and motivation, and I’m having a blast with it. Follow me here! And check out our conversation here!
After the UN’s Climate Summit ended in Glasgow without a fantastic agreement that will really terminate pollution, I also shared what I learned fighting for a clean environment in California. My most important lesson was that you can have the best plans in the world, but if you aren’t ready to fight for it and overcome the obstacles and the low points and grind through, you have nothing. Watch my video here:
I also got to meet one of the greatest soccer players of all time, Alan Shearer! Alan has the record for most goals in the Premier League — the biggest soccer league in the United Kingdom! He was an awesome guy, and it was so much fun to hear about his career as a player and now as a broadcaster. Alan was in Los Angeles with the Premier League trophy to promote the league in America, so getting to see the trophy was also a big highlight. I grew up with soccer, played soccer in high school, and I am still a big soccer fan, so this was a big deal for me. Check out these pictures below!
The funny thing is, I went on a talk show in Britain in 2019 to promote my movie Terminator: Dark Fate and predicted Liverpool would win the championship. A magician never reveals his secrets so I won’t tell you how I knew, but bringing the trophy to my office was the least they could do to pay me back! Although, after meeting with Alan I may have to be a fan of Newcastle to keep him happy. I actually have a strange history of predicting sports. My older readers might remember a game between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins called “The Monday Night Miracle” in 2000, because the Jets scored 30 points in the 4th quarter for one of the greatest comebacks of all time. I even picked the player who would score the tying touchdown. I guess I might need to go to Vegas…
Now, a lot of you have given me positive feedback on my fight commentary from Volkanovski vs. Ortega, and I love talking about fights. I’ve learned all of the lessons in my life from sports, including when I used to watch boxing and the Olympics outside the window of the little appliance store when I was a boy.
Sports can really prepare us for everything life throws at us. From sports, I learned that it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, 225 pounds on the bench press is still 225 pounds, a marathon will always be 26 miles, and a 10-ounce boxing glove will always weigh the same. No matter how rich or poor you are, there will always be a time when you fall, fail, or feel depressed. That never makes you a loser as long as you get back up.
Since you enjoyed it so much and we can learn so much from it, I thought I’d continue my fight commentary and share my thoughts about the Wilder vs. Fury fight. I never thought we would see the day again where heavyweight boxers dominated the headlines like Ali and Tyson. Boxing has lost its star power since then, and people have shifted to watching the UFC. In the case of this fight, I haven’t seen anything that exciting for years. If anything will bring boxing back to where it once was, it was this fight.
This was the final fight in the Wilder vs. Fury trilogy. The first fight was a draw, Fury won the second fight, and this one was sure to be a barn burner. From the first bell, these two guys were giving it all they had. Fury was the faster and more technical fighter, surprisingly, which is kind of hard to believe considering he is 6’9” and 278lbs. That isn’t to say that Wilder wasn’t one of the toughest guys in the world that night either. The shots he was taking while continuing to push forward were unbelievable, not to mention knocking down Fury twice in the fourth round, where, honestly, I thought it was all over. I mean, I really was never sure what was going to happen. That is what made this fight amazing. I remember the first time Fury got knocked down after taking charge of the first few rounds, I saw him on the ground and I saw the look in his eyes, and I remembered what he had said in an interview previously. He mentioned getting knocked down by Wilder in one of their previous fights and taking all the time he needed during the count to get his head together and stand up. I could see it in his eyes, he was calm and collected and didn’t let the knockdown rattle him too much. The next few rounds after getting knocked down, Fury picked up the pace and it seemed like Wilder was starting to run out of gas. His pace was slower and his hands started to drop. Of course, when a boxer drops his hands, his opponent will make him pay for it, and that is exactly what Fury did when he put Wilder away in the 11th round. I later found out that Wilder had broken his hand early in the fight, but pushed through it to keep fighting, again showing the kind of badass he is. He even stunned Fury in the 10th round with a big right hand! Deontay Wilder deserves all the praise in the world, and I know he will be back stronger.
I also wanted to talk a little bit about Tyson Fury, the heavyweight champion. Here is a guy who had a lot of issues with his mental health and alcoholism after vacating his boxing titles in 2016. He weighed 300lbs, drank and did cocaine, had thoughts of suicide, and struggled to find his place in life. In 2018, he decided to reapply for his boxing license, get his ass off the couch and do something with the great talent he was given. He could have blamed everything on his crappy childhood like so many people do, but he took responsibility. Maybe he realizes his lapses come from how he grew up, but he’s willing to say, “Enough’s enough. Now I’m in charge of my own destiny.” Now he is a champion once again, one of the most positive and honest fighters on the planet, and is an advocate for mental health for all of his fans. This is what I’m talking about when I say I learn all my lessons from sports. He had everything taken away from him because of poor choices, and he pulled himself out of that dark place and turned his entire life around. Now that is a champion. Take a look at these highlights!
Another amazing story in the fighting world that I wanted to share is the story of Julianna Peña. Julianna is a total badass, putting her body on the line every fight. This time, she had to fight Amanda Nunes, who is considered the best female fighter of all time. Everyone seemed to doubt that she would succeed, except herself. She was a 6 to 1 underdog, so, according to the experts, she had almost no chance. The commentators even talked about how scary Nunes was, and how terrible it would be to have to fight her. All year Julianna has been showing up to press conferences and making social media posts to campaign for the Nunes fight saying she would beat her easily. No one took this seriously, except herself. But, when the cage door closed that night, there was no more talking and no more games. It was just the fight, and she was ready. As soon as the bell rang, Julianna was putting pressure on the champion. We have a phrase in German, die schneid abgekaufen, which basically means to take the fight out of someone, to force them to change their strategy and remove the superiority they feel. After the first round, something different was in the air, the champion looked a bit lost, and Julianna looked hungry. She went out there and put on a masterclass brawl and brought the champion into her world. She slowly tired her out until it was clear the champion was broken. This was a champion who had bowed to no one, and yet Julianna did it. She took her right to the ground and sunk in a rear-naked choke, which is putting someone in a headlock choke from behind. The choke wasn’t even that deep, I think Amanda had just had enough. And while I know Nunes will be back to try again, we should all celebrate Julianna Peña and her perseverance and belief in herself. She had her vision, and even though people laughed at her, she made it a reality. Anything is possible, don’t ever listen to someone that tells you it is impossible. Check out the fight highlights below!
Home for the holidays!
Winter is here in Los Angeles and that means I get to start celebrating some of my favorite holidays. Recently, I invited my nephew Patrick and his kids and my daughter, Christina, over for some pumpkin carving on Halloween. I always loved doing these things with my kids, and now I’m so lucky that they’re still willing to carve pumpkins even though they’re adults and I can also repeat it all with my nephew’s family, and eventually my grandkids! I love all of the holidays, and again, I think this might go back to growing up with very little. Now I go all out and celebrate, whether it’s Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. And I love including my family and friends and also my friends from the gym who don’t have anybody to celebrate with because I will always remember my first Thanksgiving after I moved to this country when a bodybuilder named Bill Drake made me feel at home. The holidays teach us that life is not about me, it’s about we.
A lesson from meeting my heroes
Before we get into the rest of the holidays, I celebrated one of my other favorite holidays this month, Veteran’s Day. These guys are my heroes. I woke up thinking I would do a social media post, then I thought it would be much more fun to get off my couch and head to where the action is. So, I called my favorite pizza place on Beverly Drive, ordered 25 delicious pizzas, and delivered them to Veteran’s Row in West Los Angeles With my son, Christopher. Veteran’s Row is the name given to the row of homeless tents that used to line the Veterans Affairs building fence. Imagine, these people risked their lives for their country, and they were living outside the fence of a 400-acre veterans’ facility. I am so thankful that this year some champions at Veterans Affairs helped to set them up inside of the fence, which is much safer, but no one should be living in a tent, especially not someone who has served our country and signed up to risk everything for us.
I was honored to spend a couple of hours hanging out with them, hearing their stories, and, yes, I had a few slices of pizza. But, I really wanted to highlight a conversation I had with a new veteran friend that day. He told me he doesn’t really get outside much, and that he was surprised he made it out for pizza. He said he was depressed and struggling to be happy. His life was incredibly difficult, and he felt like he was being forgotten as a veteran. So I sat down with him and told him that even I feel down or depressed sometimes, and that’s OK. Life is a constant up and down, and sometimes your mind will try to keep you down as long as it can. But, together, we can conquer any challenge. And it was a good reminder that every time I’ve been down, there was someone to offer me a hand. No matter who you are, you always have the power to help someone with just a little bit of your time and a few kind words.
The most important lesson from my visit with the veterans and the great people at the facility working to help them is that you can really only learn how to solve problems by getting on the ground, talking to the people impacted, and getting your hands dirty. People in LA had been complaining about Veterans Row for years, but nobody was doing anything. I give credit to Veterans Affairs for bringing their tents inside the fence so they weren’t hit by bad drivers or robbed by people any more. But when I got there, I saw a few little houses set up next to the tents. So I asked about it, and found out that they can build these tiny homes with heat and AC to take the guys out of the elements for $10,000. That really impressed me, because I’ve read about city leaders building homes for the homeless for half a million dollars. Within a week, I found the organization, Village for Vets, that had a lease with the VA and could install more homes for these great veterans, and I talked with the founder, Marcie Polier Swartz. Without hesitation, I sent them the money for 25 new homes that we will open right before Christmas next week! I’ll be there to hang out with my new friends and enjoy some Christmas sweets, and I’m going to stay in touch with them so I can keep learning new ways to help.
I don’t tell you this so you say, “Man, Arnold is generous.” I tell you about this because if I’d posted a video on Veteran’s Day thanking our great men and women in uniform, it would have made some people feel really good, but I never would have learned there was a problem I could help solve. By getting out into the world to see the veterans and hear their stories, I was able to really help, not just get some likes and positive comments. I hope all of you think about this every time you post on social media. There’s a real-world out there, and you don’t need to build tiny homes to make a difference. You can give someone a sandwich or a slice of pizza, or even just a can opener (One thing I learned is that a lot of people give cans of food to the homeless, but they will always need a way to open them). You can just spend some of your time just talking to someone and making them feel like you care. All of us are so wrapped up in social media these days that I worry we are missing chances to really help.
But, it also got me thinking: should I make a place online where we can have more of these conversations about improving ourselves and making a difference in the world with none of the negativity?
My Challenge for You
Since this is the giving time of year, I want to challenge all of you to do something for someone else. It doesn’t have to be big. But this is a season of miracles, and you can be the miracle in someone’s life by reading to an after-school program or just stopping to have a normal conversation with someone who is going through hard times. You can still post all of your meals and your pets on social media, but take an hour or two during the holidays and give it to someone else. They’ll feel better, and so will you.
I see so many people post on social media, “I wish I could help,” or, “It’s too bad I’m just an average person.” Let’s analyze that. Do you really wish? Because you can make that wish come true today. And don’t beat yourself up for being ”average”, or “normal” or a “nobody.” We all have something to offer. You might just be “average” but let me tell you something, a marathon isn’t run in one shot. You take the first step, then the second step, and then about 55,000 more steps. You can take the first step to help someone else today.
Do you have an extra blanket at home you can give someone today? An old jacket you aren’t using? A few dollars for a meal? 15 minutes for a human conversation? We all have something to offer. You don’t have to count on city officials. You can stop wishing you can help and start helping right now. You have power. You can be useful in some way, no matter what it is.
Tell me what you did for others by replying, and make the subject line “Giving back” so I can be sure to read them all. You might feel weird about ”bragging”, but I really believe that good deeds inspire more good deeds, so share away. I am already proud of all of you!
Jingle All the Way
Christmas is my favorite time of year. This year, I got to record a really special video message. This is a wild story, guys, but I am an honorary US Forest Ranger. Back in 2013, the Forest Service gave me that honor and I’m proud of it because I love our forests and our brave firefighters. But this year, all of the sudden I got a phone call and I heard that the US Capitol Christmas Tree was being donated by California. Every year, a state gets the honor of sending the tree that will stand in front of the Capitol. This is very special for the state that sends the tree every year. But this tree from California was extra special: firefighters had defended it during the biggest wildfire in state history, and in this monster firestorm, it continued to stand. When I heard about what it faced to represent our state in our nation’s capitol, something clicked. I said, “I have an idea.” With the adversity that it overcame, and the men and women who came together to fight for it, this tree is a symbol of what our democracy went through this year, and what all of us went through in the pandemic. And now it will end up standing tall and shining in front of the Capitol as a reminder that we will stand strong again, and we will shine. You can watch my message about it here:
I love, love, love Christmas. I go crazy with the decorating and the gift-giving and the music. And I normally go a little too crazy with the treats, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re having a few extra sweets this month. One of my favorite traditions is painting my Christmas cards every year. I bring in my friends and my family and tell them they’re going to paint Christmas cards, not buy them this year, and at first, they think I’m nuts. But by the end, everyone has the best time.
A few weeks ago I invited my family and friends from Europe to visit for Christmas and get the real American experience. Like so many Europeans (including me), they are really into cowboys and the Wild West, so of course, I took them to the National Finals Rodeo, an event I attend almost every year! It is a huge rodeo in Las Vegas where you have everything from bull riding to cattle roping! My family and friends had a blast, and I know we looked ridiculous, all of these Europeans taking over the rodeo wearing the cowboy hats I got them!
Now let’s get into this month’s community heroes. I recently came across a story of a Louisiana high school where fighting and crime was out of control, and the parents had no idea what to do about it until a few of them came up with their own solution. Dads on Duty was started when 40 fathers had enough of the fighting and wanted to take matters into their own hands. Since Dads on Duty started, there have been no fights or issues at the high school. Students talked about how the dads made them feel safer or encouraged them to behave better. Just like I told you — we all have power. These dads figured out how to stop wishing for things to get better and actually make things better. The program will continue indefinitely and the dads want to start more and more chapters across the country. This type of parenting is totally my style because I’ve always believed in being hands-on. What studs. Check out the video below to learn more!
Ignore the Naysayers
Speaking of people who take matters into their own hands, I want to tell you the story of Dick Fosbury, an engineer who once broke his hand trying to jump over a chair, then won an Olympic Gold medal in the high jump. He was probably the least athletic guy out there, but he used what he knew, which was engineering, to find a way to beat the competition. He learned that if he arched his back and flopped over the bar in a certain way, he wouldn’t touch it. This became known as the Fosbury Flop, and every single high jumper uses it today. Think about that the next time that someone tells you that you aren’t good enough. There is always a way for all of us to make the most of what we have. Watch more below!
The bottom line is, as always, to not listen to the naysayers and keep fighting for your dreams. If we all listened to everyone that told us no, we would never get out of our bed and our biggest accomplishment would be finding a new Netflix show. It just takes one small victory to get us on the path of success, just like I talked about in my last newsletter. Don’t wait for the big thing, or you might be waiting forever. Those parents could have stayed home and accepted that their children went to a dangerous high school, but they chose to stand up and patrol the school themselves. Dick Fosbury could have quit when he broke his hand jumping over the chair, but he went on to be an Olympic gold medalist. Tyson Fury could have kept drinking and feeling sorry for himself, but he got back to training and became one of the greatest heavyweight champions ever.
If any of you are struggling to find your passion in life, look to them for some inspiration. Even at your darkest points, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
I know you’re all about to check out for the holidays, so let me be the first to tell you Merry Christmas! And if you celebrate Hanukkah, I hope you had a great celebration of light surrounded by friends and family. Whatever you celebrate, you deserve it. Put down your phone for a while and spend time with your family and friends. Be present, and I promise you’ll have more fun. Use these last couple weeks of the year to start preparing yourself for your best year ever next year — don’t wait until January 1. And please, please, remember to give back to yourself and those around you. Be a force of positivity in this world. Be a light.
That’s all I want for Christmas from you.
And while you are here, if you’re interested, you can check out these newsletters from my other projects: