Success and the Mind – Famous Recounts

Becoming successful requires not only action but also mindsets and attitudes towards success. The most successful people in history share similar traits and ideologies to how they got to where they are. In this series of articles I will be spot lighting famous individuals and their own personal story.


1. Martin Sheen – American Film Actor

Martin Sheen’s mindset is evident here as quoted in Real Power, 1986:

“I knew I was going to be a professional actor and I had no doubt about success, not even once in my life. I never doubted it…We lived in a rat-infested tenement on the Lower East Side for several years…and ate spaghetti, and I loved every minute of it. I loved it when it was happening [because] I knew success would be coming. I remember getting evicted from a place in the Bronx, thrown out into the street with my wife and child—baby, seventeen months old. And I bummed a ride to Ohio to see my father, who had never met my wife or seen my baby, and visit my brother, who was in jail, and to try to help him out of jail. It was one of the worst times and one of the best times. And I remember one of my brothers saying, ‘You’re a burden to our family.’ And I got angry and I said, ‘There is going to come a day, as surely as the sun rises tomorrow, when I will make more money in an hour than you’ll make in a year. And I knew it was true. Despair, yes, but I always believed in myself. Absolutely.”

images (1)2. Arnold Schwarzenegger – Austrian and American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician

From The Education Of A Bodybuilder By Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1977:

My father was baffled by my eagerness. “Don’t do it, Arnold,” he said. “You’ll over train you’ll overwork yourself.” “I’m all right,” I said. “I’m doing it gradually.” “Yes,” he said. “But what will you do with all these muscles once you’ve got them?” “I want to be the best-built man in the world,” I said frankly. That made him sigh and shake his head. “Then I want to go to America and be in movies. I want to be an actor.” “America?” “Yes — America.” “My god!” he cried. He went into the kitchen and told my mother, “I think we better go to the doctor with this one, he’s sick in the head.”… I’m so determined to make millions of dollars that I cannot fail. In my mind I’ve already made the millions; now it’s just a matter of going through the motions. – p. 109

Another attribute to his success can be pinned to a persistent mindset:

“I knew I was a winner back in the late sixties. I knew I was destined for great things. People will say that kind of thinking is totally immodest. I agree. Modesty is not a word that applies to me in any way – I hope it never will.”

A recount from an Author’s conversation with Arnold goes on to show his firm beliefs:

In the book he was promoting, written long before he became a millionaire, he had said, “I’m so determined to make millions of dollars that I cannot fail. In my mind I’ve already made the millions; now it’s just a matter of going through the motions.” And it was this subject that intrigued me most. I kept asking how he knew he would succeed, and he replied, “Because I see it with my Third Eye.” He pointed to his forehead as he said this, adding that he creates a movie in his mind, seeing himself reaching his goals over and over.

“I learned that technique in bodybuilding,” he said, “and I’m applying it to becoming a movie star – and I have no doubt that I will become the No. 1 movie star in the world.”

“You mean bigger than Robert Redford or Paul Newman?” I asked. “Oh, much bigger than those guys. I’m talking about becoming bigger than Charles Bronson!” he said, smiling that infectious smile.

Even after becoming governor, he still firmly sticks to his ideologies:

“You have to have a vision. And then you have to have total faith in that vision.”

300.ab.Oprah.Winfrey.1119093. Oprah Winfrey – American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist

In an interview with Oprah for the Academy of Achievement, she has always had a firm belief in that one day she will be the wealthiest black women in America, and evidently that is what she got:

“As a young child, I had a vision, not of what I wanted to accomplish, but I knew that my current circumstances would change. I was raised on a farm with my grandmother for the first six years of my life — I knew somehow that my life would be different and it would be better. I never had a clear cut vision of what it was that I would be doing. I remember absolutely physically feeling it at around four years old. I remember standing on the back porch — it was a screened-in porch — and my grandmother was boiling clothes because, you know, at that time, we didn’t have washing machines, and so people would, you know, physically boil clothes in a great big iron pot. She was boiling clothes and poking them down. And I was watching her from the back porch, and I was four years old and I remember thinking, “My life won’t be like this. My life won’t be like this, it will be better.” And it wasn’t from a place of arrogance, it was just a place of knowing that things could be different for me somehow. I don’t know what made me think that.”

In 1987, in the early stages of her career she had a firm , persistent belief for success:

“I always knew I’d be a millionaire by age thirty-two. In fact, I am going to be the richest black woman in America.”

MV5BMTk1MjE1NzM0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTI5NzIxMw@@._V1._SY314_CR0,0,214,314_4. Paul McCartney – Member of The Beatles, musician, singer, songwriter and composer

From a CNN interview in 1988, Paul McCartney explains his success:

“We knew we were good. People used to say to us, ‘Do you think John and you are good songwriters?’ and I’d say— “Yeah it may sound conceited but it would be stupid of me to say ‘No, I don’t,’ or ‘Well, we’re not bad’ because we are good.” Let’s face it. If you were in my position, which was working with John Lennon, who was a great, great man — It’s like that film ‘Little Big Man.’ He says, ‘We wasn’t just playing Indians, we was LIVIN’ Indians.’ And that’s what it was. I wasn’t just talking about it, I was living it. I was actually working with the great John Lennon, and he with me. It was very exciting.”

Abraham_Lincoln5. Abraham Lincoln – 16th President of the United States

This is from The early Life of Abraham Lincoln, a book focusing on unpublished documents and Abe and the reminiscences of Lincoln’s early friends:

Among those whom Lincoln served in Indiana as “hired boy” was Josiah Crawford, a well-to-do farmer living near Gentryville. Mr. Crawford owned a copy of Weems’s “Life of Washington,” a precious book in those days, and Lincoln borrowed it to read. “Late in the night, before going to rest, he placed the borrowed book in his only bookcase, the opening between two logs of the walls of the cabin, and retired to dream of its contents. During the night it rained; the water dripping over the ‘ mud-daubing’ onto the book stained the leaves and warped the binding. Abe valued the book in proportion to the interest he had in the hero, and felt that the owner must value it beyond his ability to pay.

It was with the greatest trepidation he took the book home and told the story, and asked how he might hope to make restitution. Mr. Crawford answered: ‘Being as it is you, Abe, I won’t be hard on you, Come over and shuck corn three days, and the book is yours.’ Shuck corn three days and receive a hero’s life! He felt that the owner was giving him a magnificent present. After reading the book, he used to tell the Crawfords: ‘I do not always intend to delve, grub, shuck corn, split rails, and the like.’ His whole mind was devoted to books, and he declared he ‘was going to fit himself for a profession.’ These declarations were often made to Mrs. Crawford, who took almost a mother’s interest in him, and she would ask: ‘What do you want to be now?’ His answer was invariably: ‘I’ll be President.’ As he was generally playing a joke on some one. she would answer: ‘You’d make a purty President with all your tricks and jokes. Now, wouldn’t you?’ He would then declare: ‘Oh, I’ll study and get ready, and then the chance will come.’

This is a personalised and contracted version of the popular thread.

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  • It’s about vision, attitude, focus, action backed by faith, joy, and patience. Never give up on your dreams, which is the theme of my next film directorial effort: RISING TRIUMPHANT, set in the global dance world. But the most important thing in life is LOVE.

    • Ars Spiritus Team

      Good points Jon! Thanks for commenting 😀

  • Wow… I need to save this page.

    I’ve always had a similar attitude regarding my life. This was awesome. Thank you so much.

    • Ars Spiritus Team

      Thanks mate!