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Personal Growth, Make a Better World, Leadership Library

Leadership Library Selection: Be Useful

You would think Arnold Schwarzenegger would need no introduction, but it is easy to forget the impact he has had in so many different areas. To be a world-class bodybuilder, movie star, and governor of one of America's largest states? It's a life even a book can hardly contain.

That's why his new book, "Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life," takes the spotlight off his success a bit, and puts it more on how he achieved it.


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It's a profound exploration of the multifaceted journey of a man who transcends the conventional labels of bodybuilder, actor, and governor, sharing insights into the tools, lessons, and failures that led to his monumental rise. 

Most importantly, it gives the reader a roadmap for a fulfilling and impactful life, in a compelling way that is unique to the man we have all come to adore.

How to Be Useful

The title comes from the best advice Schwarzenegger ever received from his father. Though his father didn't always agree with his goals, Schwarzenegger realized the advice was transferable to his own life, and to anyone.

"Being useful was… the motivating force behind all my decisions and the organizing force around the tools I used to make them," he writes. The book distills the seven tools that he found made him most useful no matter the context or the goal

If a reminder is needed, Schwarzenegger has achieved a lot. He helped pass environmental policies that set the stage for sustainability trends across the country and abroad as the Governor of California; won countless awards as a bodybuilder; starred in classic films like the "Terminator" movies, "Total Recall," and "Kindergarten Cop." And no matter what goal he was after, he leaned on the seven tools for life that he lays out in the book.

Getting to the mountaintop of so many different peaks, Schwarzenegger noticed a pattern to his success and how he got there. Most importantly, in a world where depression and anxiety have increased by 25 percent worldwide since 2020, which he points out in the book, he wants to lift others up, urging readers to "engage with the tools of usefulness and self-sufficiency that are the primary weapons in the fight against unhappiness and apathy."

Today his goals are dedicated to doing just that, which is mainly why he has published a book less about him and more about the roadmap that led to his own success and happiness

"These tools have always worked," he writes. "They always will work. I think of them like elements of a blueprint or a roadmap to a happy, successful, useful life—whatever that means to you."

Key Takeaways from "Be Useful"

In his book, Schwarzenegger writes about:

  • The failures that shaped him and how they helped him grow
  • Goal-setting and having a clear vision
  • Leaning into positive thinking and ignoring the negative
  • Having the willingness to put in the work
  • The importance of clear communication and listening skills
  • How you need to know how to shift gears when you hit a roadblock

Read Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life," and begin using the tools he used to map out the life you envision.