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Arnold Schwarzenegger's speech on why he's not a 'self-made man' shows why we all need each other

'The self‑made man or woman is a myth.'

arnold schwarzenegger, university of houston, self-made man

Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking at the University of Houston in 2017.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the epitome of the American dream. He’s an immigrant from Austria who came to America with $20 in his pocket and wound up being one of the most celebrated people in the world. He was Mr. Olympia seven times, played the Terminator on the big screen and was elected governor of California twice.

However, even though he’s had tremendous success, he never call himself a self-made man. This is surprising being that Schwarzenegger is a member of the Republican Party, a group that has traditionally stood for self-reliance.

He explained his rationale in a moving commencement speech at the University of Houston in May 2017.


“Now, the diplomas — there will only be one name and this is yours, but I hope it doesn’t confuse you and you think that maybe you made it that far by yourself,” Schwarzenegger told the graduating class. “No, you didn’t. It took a lot of help. None of us can make it alone. None of us. Not even the guy that is talking to you right now, that was the greatest bodybuilder of all time.

“I didn’t make it that far on my own. I mean, to accept that credit or that medal, would discount every single person that has helped me get here today, that gave me advice, that made an effort, that lifted me up when I fell,” he added. “The whole concept of the self‑made man or woman is a myth.”

The former “Governator” then shared the names of a lot of people who helped him become successful, including his parents, teachers, a lifeguard, bodybuilder Joe Weider, the people at Gold’s Gym, producer Dino De Laurentiis, director James Cameron, comedian Jay Leno and, of course, the people of America.

At the end of the speech, he shared his belief that with success comes responsibility.

“The reason why I want you to understand that is because as soon as you understand that you are here because of a lot of help, then you also understand that now is time to help others,” he said. “Make sure that it is not about me. That it is about ‘we.’ Turn the ‘me’ into ‘we,’ and I guarantee you that you can change the world.”

All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


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