What does the David Goggins Story teach us about Mental Toughness?

Story of David Goggins is as inspirational is it is moving. David told his story through his book Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds which became an instant best seller. How can David’s story help us as runners?

Mental Toughness and Hard Work

David Goggins is known to many as the hardest man in the world. He didn’t earn that reputation lightly. He has had a variety of accomplishments, such as overcoming obesity to join the highly trained US Navy Seals, running multiple endurance race (Badwater 135, Hurt 100 and the San Diego 1 day to name just a few of his many races), completing Ranger school as top student, and attempting Delta force selection.

David did not start with a hand held out for him in life. In fact quite the opposite, he started on the back foot and under torturous abuse. He recalls his father often beating him and his mother. David was left a shell from childhood, with no sense of self.

I believe this is a very important aspect to David’s story, that we can all learn from. Despite tremendous suffering, there can always be a flame within. With some encouraging self talk it can turn into a raging bonfire of determination.

How does David Goggins hold himself accountable to his goals?

Your mirror is used for selfies? Now it’s a truthful smack in the face.

David began using his mirror when he was a young man, planning on joining the military. He realised that he was not all that he could be, and was frustrated at that fact. So he stood in front of the mirror – freshly shaven scalp and clear conscience – and then began listing all the things he had to develop the discipline to do. This became a regular practice for him that he continued to use throughout his career.

 Develop personal accountability!

  • “If you look in the mirror and you see a fat person, don’t tell yourself you need to lose a couple of pounds. Tell the truth.”
  • “I wasn’t fluffy. I was raw because that was the only way to get myself right.”

What gives David Goggins the push of motivation that he needs in a workout?

Maybe you’ve had that feeling at your running club to run an extra lap of the track, but everybody else is stopping for a drink and a chat? 

So you stop too.

For Goggins, you have just missed a vital moment of soul-taking. The competition doesn’t want you running that extra lap, and that is exactly why you do it

“Taking souls is a ticket to finding your own reserve power and riding a second wind” 

A truly inspiring part of David’s story, was his use of this tactic when enduring his Navy Seal hell week(s). David was fed up with one particular Seal instructor, making the lives of his teammates hell, and enjoying every minute of it.

Instead of whining, David decided that he had to endure these grueling tasks better than any of those instructors had in their career. He smiled when the pain was at its worst, he hummed songs to keep the morale up, and he defied any ‘normal’ response the instructors expected from beaten, tired, and zombie-like potential Seals.

This is what Taking Souls means to Goggins. Defiance and a rebellious spirit can work in your favour.

How can we implement David Goggins’ 40% rule?

David has said, we as humans often only operate at 40% of our true capabilities. He uses the analogy of the governor on a car. A car has a governor that restricts it’s speed even though it could go faster. David believes we let our minds restrict us in the same way.

He has certainly put this to the test, and shown his theory to be true. David was running his first 100 mile race that he had to complete in 24 hrs. He had only run 10 miles in the last year, and had the weight on him of a towering powerlifter (not your idea of endurance running condition!). Mile 70 had descended upon him and presented a brick wall of stress fractures, shin splints, broken metatarsals, dehydration and complete distress.

 He calmed his mind. And asked himself how he could complete this race. There was no ‘buts’ or ‘ifs’ there was only how he could do it. This question opened his mind to using the rest of the burning motivation in the tank. He dominated the rest of the race.

More on How to Endure

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