Arnold Schwarzenegger was not famous yet in 1976 when he and I had lunch together at the Doubletree Inn in Tucson, Arizona. Not one person in the restaurant recognized him.
He was in town publicizing the movie Stay Hungry, a box-office disappointment he had just made with Jeff Bridges and Sally Field. I was a sports columnist for the Tucson Citizen at the time, and my assignment was to spend a full day, one-on-one, with Arnold and write a feature story about him for our newspaper's Sunday magazine.
I, too, had no idea who he was, or who he was going to become. I agreed to spend the day with him because I had to—it was an assignment. And although I took to it with an uninspired attitude, it was one I'd never forget.
Perhaps the most memorable part of that day with Schwarzenegger occurred when we took an hour for lunch. I had my reporter's notebook out and was asking questions for the story while we ate. At one point I casually asked him, "Now that you have retired from bodybuilding, what are you going to do next?"
And with a voice as calm as if he were telling me about some mundane travel plans, he said, "I'm going to be the number-one box-office star in all of Hollywood."
Mind you, this was not the slim, aerobic Arnold we know today. This man was pumped up and huge. And so for my own physical sense of well-being, I tried to appear to find his goal reasonable.
I tried not to show my shock and amusement at his plan. After all, his first attempt at movies didn't promise much. And his Austrian accent and awkward monstrous build didn't suggest instant acceptance by movie audiences. I finally managed to match his calm demeanor, and I asked him just how he planned to become Hollywood's top star.
"It's the same process I used in bodybuilding," he explained. "What you do is create a vision of who you want to be, and then live into that picture as if it were already true."
It sounded ridiculously simple. Too simple to mean anything. But I wrote it down. And I never forgot it.
I'll never forget the moment when some entertainment TV show was saying that box office receipts from his second Terminator movie had made him the most popular box office draw in the world. Was he psychic? Or was there something to his formula?
Over the years I've used Arnold's idea of creating a vision as a motivational tool. I've also elaborated on it in my corporate training seminars. I invite people to notice that Arnold said that you create a vision. He did not say that you wait until you receive a vision. You create one. In other words, you make it up.
A major part of living a life of self-motivation is having something to wake up for in the morning—something that you are "up to" in life so that you will stay hungry.
The vision can be created right now—better now than later. You can always change it if you want, but don't live a moment longer without one. Watch what being hungry to live that vision does to your ability to motivate yourself.