David Goggins is the author of Can’t hurt me and wow what a book. I can’t remember where I first heard about David Goggins, but he is one crazy guy. You might know him from Joe Rogan’s podcast and other motivational platforms. He is inspirational because he is an ex navy seal and an ultramarathoner.

His main goal is to show human potential. Boy does he show it in this book. He puts excuses like racism and a bad background to the side. He says that no one has excuses. Keep pushing yourself forward and you will achieve your goal. The way to do this is master your mind. He doesn’t really provide a strong psychological basis on how to attack this. He does tell people to do the very tough things that they don’t want to do in order to get mentally tough.

A few other ways he motivates throughout this book:

  • Do you want to reach the end of your life not knowing who you are
  • Are you ok dying today with what you have accomplished
  • He was fat and depressed and lost over 100 lbs to get into the seals
  • He ran a 100 mile race with no training
  • You aren’t guaranteed an easy life, so stop thinking that way
  • The day you are born; you become eligible to die.
  • Stretching is the key to balancing your life and body.
  • There are motivating challenges throughout this book
  • Taking Souls concept
  • Cookie Jar concept
  • Accountability mirror
  • You can’t always count on motivation for you to accomplish your goals. You must work through difficult times.
  • Tells you to be your own hero

General format of the book

The book follows David Goggins throughout his life and focuses on certain areas.

1.It focuses on his bad childhood and teenage years.
2. It then transitions to his navy seal and military career.
3. Then it transitions into his ultramarathoning career.
4. Then is ultimately ends with his pull up record.

They wanted to show how David created the man he is today from his life experiences. I think they did a decent job of that, but they could have provided more insight behind his exact mental model.

My insights

Based on other books I’ve read from self help authors like Tony Robbins, it seems that David Goggins changed his life when he reached his lowest point. Tony Robbins says this is common, but you should work on motivating yourself before you reach that point of pain. Most people wait for the maximum point of pain before they change. If you don’t feel discomfort in your life though you might never change. This is what Goggins speaks about throughout this book.

The main thing that I got out of this book is the limits of human potential. If you pay attention to the mainstream media and other self help others, you think that life should be easy and sugar-coated. It shouldn’t though. Life sucks the most when you are taking it easy. You won’t accomplish all of your goals if you take it easy.

I think the main mechanism that David uses that most other people could use is not letting his mind get an inch on him. Anytime he feels his mind is starting to get comfortable or weak, he goes out and runs with a rucksack or does some pullups. This is a great exercise because our minds are constantly learning from our behavior. If we give in anytime we feel discomfort, our minds will eventually not be able to put up with tough situations. If you teach your mind that you will not reward weakness, then you will be able to endure in tough situations.

Another thing that he says that really stood out to me is when he spoke about being eligible to die the day you are born. This couldn’t be more true. You can die at any moment. It is best to remember this when assessing your life. This doesn’t mean that you should live lavishly. It just means that you shouldn’t take anything for granted. You should be working hard as many minutes of everyday as humanly possible.

Another thing I took away from this book is that staying busy keeps you out of your own head and out of trouble. David Goggins chooses physical activity to get out of his head which I enjoy as well. I think the message he is trying to convey is choose something productive and push yourself in that area. Most people just comfort themselves with things like social media, tv and consuming products. These are all things that we do when we have too much time. We consume more. Consuming more makes you have to earn more. Then we get in this rat race where we chase more money to buy more comfort. However the more “comfort” we buy or consume, the less marginal comfort we get from the next item. A way to avoid this is to work on the things that you want to accomplish. For David Goggins, this was primarily physical challenges. I think for most men this is a good way to calm the mind. However, I think the same thing can be accomplished in creative pursuits.

I also like the concept of working even when you don’t have motivation. According to David, if you work only when you are motivated, you will never accomplish anything. You must learn to push yourself during the tough times. You must also learn to push yourself when you get bored. Don’t be like everybody else. Work when they are sleeping.

I think people should also learn that David doesn’t binge on Netflix or social media. If you want to accomplish more in your life, you must set those things aside. Society has us believe that those things are normal. They aren’t normal if you want to be extraordinary.

How I would go about being like David Goggins. Find something that you enjoy doing and try to take it to the next level. We often think there is a limit on what we can do because we look at others around us. Instead take something you really enjoy that isn’t destructive and take it to the next level. Push through boredom and pain and reach the potential you’ve always thought you had in that field. Don’t meet expectations. Go beyond them. Don’t expect rewards. Just do the work. What David did is he took something he enjoyed and did it to an insane extreme. He took running to the extreme. He took pull ups to the extreme. He enjoyed doing both of these activities. He didn’t enjoy the pain that came with taking it to the extreme, but he used that to create a mind of steel.

The challenges

David provides challenges in each chapter. Some of them are really good and others are vague. Purchase the book to get detailed instructions for all the challenges.

1 – Go through the difficulties and excuses you have in your life. Become aware of what you do wrong.
2 – Use post it notes to achieve your goals
3 – Do something uncomfortable everyday to toughen your mind
4 – Take souls – basically outperform other people in various areas of your life
5 – Visualize your goals
6 – Cookie Jar: create a mental cookie jar of all your best accomplishments and situations that you have overcome
7 – Remove the governor: remove your mental and physical limits over time
8 – Scheduling: schedule out your days to see how much time you waste (this is my favorite challenge)
9 – Be uncommon: stand out among great people. Don’t just challenge yourself against people with low potential
10 – After Action Reports: assess your failures and progress towards your goals

What I didn’t like about the book

The guy who helped write this book and narrated the audiobook wasn’t the best. I think David has huge potential as an author. He can write motivational books and audiobooks. I would like a book solely of him just screaming at me.

First let’s discuss some things I didn’t like about the ghost writer. The writer would go down certain rabbit holes with no payoffs. The writer starts the book with Goggins childhood. He goes down all these gloomy rabbit holes with David’s childhood stories. Don’t get me wrong, a bunch of terrible things happened to David Goggins.

However, the writer would write this huge build ups of something terrible about to happen to David Goggins, and then he’d just move onto the next story. For example, at one point he makes it seem like David Goggin’s dad was going to kill his mother. This doesn’t happen though. David’s mother easily moves away but the author made it seem imminent in the book. This establishes a predictable pattern throughout the book. Any time a story gets very gloomy in David’s life, the end result will actually be positive. Any time a story builds up being really positive, it ends in a bad fashion. This made the book predictable by the end.

Another thing I didn’t like is that David was afraid of a lot of things in this book. He doesn’t talk about if he overcame any of these things. There are just certain things he’s afraid of. The author doesn’t dive deep into these. David speaks so much about making your mind tough, but he makes it seem logical that he’s scared of basic things. One was flying on planes. How can someone so hard be scared of flying on planes. He gives a reason why, but it seems like an oversight that he is afraid of simple things like that.

Too much focus on the machismo side of David Goggins. I would like to have learned more about David’s personal life and the battles he fought there. It seems easier to put on a tough exterior during military exercises or physical feats, but what about personal life. This is how most people will apply mental toughness. It would have been better to understand how David approached his divorces and relationships. Are those things he could work on. Does he give up on relationships because of his focus in other areas. It would have been good to understand this. I don’t think it is good to focus only on being physically tough. Your soul will be empty in other areas. It would be good to know how he approaches other areas of fulfillment in his life. It seems like a major oversight by the writer not to go into more detail in these areas of Goggins life. For the book, it makes sense why he doesn’t cover it. It doesn’t make sense in the audiobook though. They had tons of converstation in the audiobook. He could have easily asked him about how he overcome personal issues.

I wanted to know the exact routines of David Goggins as well. He makes running 100 miles seem easy. What exactly did David Goggins do to motivate himself. This book makes it seem so easy just to strap up your shoes and go for an ultra marathon. I would have liked him to flesh out more of David Goggins mental talk and have him speak about how he overcame individual mental limitations. I would have also liked to know more about his daily routine hour by hour. David goes into this a little bit when he talks about the scheduling, but it just seems insane to me the amount he was able to accomplish. I just don’t think there was much time in the day for him to spend with his family.