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Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life

Reviewed by KC Vijaya Kumar

Published : Saturday, 30 March, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 707

Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life

Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life

The Terminator shares life-lessons, in his own unique way...


Philosophies aiding the better life have always found space in a palatable form within the confines of a book. Be it Paulo Coelhos The Alchemist, Mitch Alboms Tuesdays with Morrie or Robert Fulghums It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It, the self-help formula has always reigned.

Into this world of words, proverbs and that gentle pat on the shoulder, imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger wading in! The guns and ripped muscles are kept aside and the star adds his own style to the life-lessons genre. His Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life, is a tome that does some straight-talking. The language is direct, at times the words can turn purple and Schwarzenegger often uses an episode in his life to drive home a point.

The basic template of self-help books that rests on vision, dreams, hard work and knowledge, is followed here too but the author lends it his unique touch. Born in Austria and prospering in the US, Schwarzenegger has done the whole arc of bodybuilding, acting and politics. After 76 summers, he is well qualified to share his inferences about life. It is just that all of us fed on his action movies may take some time to also imbibe his pearls of wisdom.

He starts with a note on his failures: "I had dramatic losses in my bodybuilding career, I had movies that went in the toilet, and this wasn the first time I had watched my approval ratings fall like the Dow Jones Industrial Average." And then you can almost hear his steely drawl, when he writes: "I relish the challenge of having to climb back up."

Motivational speaking
Having shifted into the zone of motivational speaking, he remembers a time when his father told him: "Be Useful, Arnold." He then juxtaposes the tools he employed to succeed and elaborately writes about them across 263 pages. The chapter titles always cut to the chase like Work your a#* off.

He talks about having a vision and then lapses into his own life in which he nursed an American dream while growing up in Austria. Soon it became a reality and he basks in the afterglow: "I was in America, I was Mr Universe, and the work was just beginning." The star breaks down vision into goals and how you can keep pushing at it.

Schwarzenegger does have some deadpan humour and he pens these lines: "By the end of 1987, I had killed 283 people. More than anyone else in Hollywood during that time, by far. It took me eight films, but I did it. And that meant something. It meant that I was an action movies star." And then he tells us to dream big. Never think small, he warns.

The will to work, to get through tasks and to keep looking at the horizon, are all essential, and the star, who dropped the gun and picked the pen, says it in his own way. The style can be like those dialogues that get beeped out in movies and yet it cuts to the bone and makes you think.

Adaptability and being a sponge are all mentioned while the writer steps often into his life to hold a mirror both to himself and to the reader. He then does a deep dive into what a self-made person is supposed to be, and also reiterates the need to give back to society. The author clearly says that no one operates in a vacuum as there are people often lending a hand but what you do with that assistance determines how far an individual can go. The thank you note by Schwarzenegger is elaborate and includes the likes of Nelson Mandela. This is a book that besides its focus on living life well, equally reveals vulnerable layers of the actor and highlights his self-belief. He may have played Terminator, but the star does have a heart.

Courtesy: THE HINDUBUSINESSLINE







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