“Mental toughness is not something that you sample, it’s something that you live in everyday.”
Your brain is the most complex organ in your body. It needs to be pushed, tested, and challenged everyday to create mental strength.
I practice mental toughness by pushing my body through physical pain every day. Every high impact workout I set out to do creates discipline and challenges my discomfort zone.
Pain is where we learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
You might be avoiding it right now because you’re afraid of what lies on the other side.
The only way you’ll ever strengthen the most powerful organ in your body is by diving head first into your discomfort zone. We don’t like to be uncomfortable, but facing that pain head on is the only way we can ever succeed or progress.
You are capable.
This week on The School of Greatness podcast, I had the pleasure of sharing my conversation with David Goggins, someone who has mastered the art of pain and embracing his discomfort zone.
David Goggins is an incredible man who has undergone insane amounts of stress, pain, and tragedy only to unlock his true potential in life.
David is the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training (including two Hell Weeks), the U.S. Army Ranger School (where he graduated as Enlisted Honor Man), and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training.
He is indisputably one of the world’s best endurance athletes. He has completed over 60 ultra-marathons, triathlons, and ultra-triathlons, setting new course records and regularly placing in the top five. He once held the world record for pull-ups, completing 4,030 in 17 hours, and he is a sought-after public speaker, coach of numerous sports teams, and he also coaches people in Fortune 500 companies. In 2018, he published a book called You Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds which helps tons of people tap into their true potential. He says that on average, people are only using 40% of their potential. David wants to raise that number significantly.
David Goggins has achieved and will continue to achieve many great things, but he has not achieved them by being comfortable. Growing up, David lived on a street called “Paradise Road,” but his home life was anything but paradise. His father was physically and emotionally abusive, David struggled with a learning disability, he cheated and failed at school, and at one point, he weighed over 300 pounds.
It was tragedy after tragedy for David. How did he manage to accomplish so much with a beginning so broken?
In this episode, we don’t talk about how you can avoid hardships – we talk about how you can use them to your advantage. David says that fear is his ultimate guide. Is it yours?
To say that David grew up in hell isn’t an exaggeration.
His father wore a tailored suit and held the appearance of a charismatic, upright man. Behind the closed doors of his home, he was extremely physically abusive. Toxic stress brought about a learning disability, and to stay ahead, David began to cheat on tests to pass grades. As a junior in high school, he had a third grade reading level. His mother, who had once been a cheerful, capable woman, became a shell of a human being. In addition to all this, David was continually threatened and bullied because of his race.
His life was doomed for failure.
He began to tell himself what the world around him was telling him. Things like, “I’m dumb. I’m stupid. I’m nobody. Everyone hates me.”
Never once did David hear the words “It’s going to be okay.” Those are words we want to hear when we’re struggling. But although these words can be comforting, it’s not comfort that moves us past hardship.
When David realized that failure was ahead of him, he decided to join the military to turn his life around. He failed the entry test twice. This was a test you couldn’t cheat on. On his third and final attempt, David passed, but he didn’t pass because he suddenly became a genius. He passed because he worked and worked for hours, writing every sentence of information into spiral-bound notebooks, so that he could memorize every single thing he needed to know.
When we experience hardships in our lives, we response in one of two ways. Either, we can let the pain consume us, define us, and condemn us for failure for the rest of our lives or we can use this pain to fuel us for action.
David decided to do the later. He chose the path of the most resistance.
If you plan to work out every day of the week, you’ll need to take a recovery day so that your body can refuel and recharge.
David Goggins has worked out every day for the past 22 years of his life. One day a week, he takes an “active recovery day” where he rides on a trainer for a couple hours, maintaining a low heart rate. This gets the blood flowing, and the nutrients can begin refueling the cells.
A lot of people LIVE for the recovery day.
“So many people, before I give them a workout plan, they’re talking about recovery,” David said. “Everybody that hears me speak, they want to go straight to recovery…Before you talk to me about recovery, work out first.”
In other words, we want the result without the process. We want to feel comfortable while doing something that is, at its core, uncomfortable. We forget that pain is necessary to make progress.
Sometimes, we talk soft to ourselves to make us feel more comfortable in a difficult situation. It hurts to be honest with yourself. If you’re overweight, don’t tell yourself that you’re in great shape. If you’re struggling academically in a class, don’t call yourself a genius.
At the same time, don’t let this honesty push you down – let it pull you up.
David says that “the most important conversation in life is the one you have with yourself.”
Look at your situation and be honest with yourself. If there’s something you want to change, you’re not going to get there by telling yourself everything’s good. Have the courage to face yourself and start working – hard. With strong work ethic, you can accomplish anything.
“It starts with yourself,” David said. “You’ve got to start diving into those things that you are afraid of. You don’t gain confidence by going to the spot that makes you feel good.”
A little over five years ago, David got very sick. The doctors had no idea what was wrong. He went from a guy who worked out every day, from running 200 miles in thirty-five hours, to a guy who couldn’t get out of bed. His life came to a screeching halt.
He said it was the best thing that ever happened to him.
For several days, he sat alone in the hospital, not able to move and not able to train (an athlete’s worst nightmare), but he was able to reflect. This was something he hadn’t taken the time to do in the midst of all the training, sweating, and running. He hadn’t taken the time to think about where he had started.
“I had come 8,000 miles from where I started,” he said. “When I was sick, I was able to slow it down and reflect back on my entire life…I didn’t care if I died or lived…Because I was, for the first time in my life, happy.”
David got the time to reflect on his life and see how much he had accomplished. From weighing 300 pounds, failing in school, and having an abusive father, he had become a Navy S.E.A.L and one of the world’s top endurance athletes.
What’s more, no one gave David a hand out. “It wasn’t like someone came down here and got me to do life,” he said. “When you figure this out on your own, the amount of pride and dignity and self respect you have – that’s why I walk around the streets with a backpack and just, like, I don’t need anything else.”
When you find yourself succeeding – whether it’s losing that weight, killing it at the new job, or spending less time binge-watching Netflix – take a moment to think about where you used to be and be proud. I try to give myself a challenge every day and push into those things that I fear the most. Later, I look back at those things which used to scare me and see everything I’ve overcome – that feeling is irreplaceable.
This episode got my blood pumping. It truly inspired me to push even harder into those areas of my life which challenge me so that I can become the best version of myself that I can be.
What’s been your attitude over the last few weeks, months, and years? Have you been showing up with an attitude of mental strength, or have you become a victim to your circumstances and allowed your attitude to dictate what you create in your life?
David said, “In the race of life, life’s not going to give you a glass of water when you’re thirsty.”
I say he’s right. Life is not going to be easy on any of us, but that doesn’t mean we have to let it defeat us. We can keep running, even when we’re thirsty. We are all stronger than we think we are. We all have the capacity for greatness.
David’s definition of greatness is being able to recall every situation where you failed in life but not making that same mistake again. It’s having the strength to move on and not be haunted by the past. It’s taking the time to reflect on how far you come and seeing how far you can still go.
If you’re reading this right now, that means there’s more available for you in your life. There is so much more available for you and you haven’t even scratched the surface yet. It’s time to step up! Make a commitment to yourself.
Give yourself thirty frickin’ days to do something challenging and painful and hard that you don’t want to do. It’s only going to make you grow. It’s only going to support every aspect of your life at the highest level. Do the thing that sucks. Do the thing you don’t want to do and you will be so much happier through the entire process.
I’ll be right there with you.
And now let’s jump into episode 1525 of The School of Greatness!
Lewis Howes: Master your mind and defy the odds – Episode 715, with David Goggins.
Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now, let the class begin.
Marcus Aurelius said, “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.”
And Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal. Nothing on Earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”
I want you to reflect on that for a moment. How has your attitude been over the last few weeks, months and years? Have you been showing up with an attitude of mental strength, or have you become a victim to your circumstances, to outside events, and allowed your attitude to dictate what you create in your life?
I got so fired up on this interview and I’m already making changes in my life to try to expand my mind to even more capacity of what I’m capable of. And, as you guys know, I’m constantly doing that on a daily basis. I’m constantly pushing myself, but after listening to this – Wow!
Get ready for an incredible interview. If you don’t know who David Goggins is, he is an ultra-marathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, and former world record holder for the most pull-ups done in 24 hours.
He is a retired Navy SEAL and is the only member of the US armed forces to complete SEAL training, including two hell weeks, the US Army Rangers school, where he graduated as Enlisted Honour Man, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training.
He has completed over 60 ultra-marathons, triathlons, and ultra-triathlons, setting new course records and regularly placing in the top five. He once held the world record for pull-ups, completing 4,030 in 17 hours, and he is a sought-after public speaker, coach of numerous sports teams, and coaching people in the Fortune 500 companies.
He is an inspiration! And in this interview, we talk about failure, hell, disappointment, discomfort, and how it’s a great learning tool for you, and it’s super important. We talk about how the conversation you have with yourself can be the most terrifying thing based on what you’re saying to yourself.
How growing up with an abusive father shaped his way of thinking, and we dive in deep on those stories. The importance of recognising and recalling what you’ve been through, and slowing down so that you can appreciate life in this moment.
Both David and I reflected on this, how we never celebrated the wins in our lives and how it always hurt us. How do you gain confidence in yourself, when no one believes in you? We talk about that. Why he runs every single morning, without taking any days off, the power of that for his body and mind. We talk about how to make yourself accountable, and running towards what makes you uncomfortable. I’m telling you, guys, this is a game changer interview.
Do yourself a favour, listen to the whole thing and, when you are done, send me a message on Instagram, on you stories, on Twitter, wherever you want to, send me a message and tell me the one action step you’re going to take differently moving forward.
I do something crazy! Afterwards I talk to David afterwards and said I’m giving myself a challenge for the thirty last days of the year. I’m going to be running every single day. If you guys want to join me on that challenge, let’s do it together, but send me the action step you’re going to commit to.
I want a 30-day commitment of something that’s going to push you out of your comfort zone. Let me know on Instagram stories, @LewisHowes, and share this with a friend. I’m telling you, we can all elevate our minds, we can all defy the odds in our own life.
Share this with a friend right now, as you’re listening, because it is going to blow people away! Lewishowes.com/715.
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Alright! It’s time, guys! I’m super pumped for this! Master your mind. Defy the odds. Take your belief and your life to the next level. Let’s give it up for the one and only David Goggins!
Welcome, everyone, back to The School of Greatness Podcast. We have the inspiring David Goggins in the house. Good to see you, man!
David Goggins: Thank you!
Lewis Howes: Very excited about this! I first heard about you through Jesse Itzler’s book, Living With A SEAL, and he came on to talk about his experience and he actually didn’t mention your name, because you didn’t want to be known a few years ago.
David Goggins: Right.
Lewis Howes: But now you’re wanting to be known and you’re putting a message out everywhere. And I’m just curious, quickly, why did you want to not be known then, but now you do want to have your message out there?
David Goggins: Well, when Jesse wrote that book, Living With A SEAL, I was about two or three weeks from getting out of the military. So, you know, being a SEAL, I didn’t want to be mentioned, David Goggins, in this book. So, the second the book popped, I was retiring, so the book came out November 15th, or November 1, 2015, and I retired, November 2015. So, that’s why. That’s the biggest reason why.
Lewis Howes: Gotcha, gotcha! And when did you start putting yourself out there, doing interviews and talking about your message? And you got on social media and started sharing videos. When did you decide to do that?
David Goggins: Well, I’ve been talking to people for several years, and I wasn’t really big on – like, my mindset is very different to most people. It’s a mindset of I don’t want to be known too much. I don’t want too many lookie-loos in my life, because that’s where I gain my strength. I gain my strength form a place of quiet.
And the more I got my story out there, the more I realised it would no longer be David Goggins the quiet man. It would be David Goggins, the guy that’s on Instagram, answering this, answering that. Because I’m also a guy that’s always about, if someone reaches out to me, I’m not going to sit back and say, “Oh, whatever,” I’m going to respect you, so it’s going to take time our of me trying to gain strength and me trying t get ready to go.
So, that was a big deterrent for me to get on Instagram and all that stuff. I’m not big on social media anyway, but then I realised that God put me in a very interesting spot in life, where He made hell my teacher. He made hell my teacher and a lot of people don’t understand that.
So, I’m trying to give people a different thought process of life, where failure, hell, disappointment, discomfort, is a great learning tool, and many people don’t understand that, and a lot of people wont’ even understand this interview when we get done with it. But it’s these few moments in life that you have.
Like, for me, I always talk about it, Rocky 1, round 14. That one 2 minute 13 second clip of Rocky, getting up when Apollo knocked him down. One clip, when I was going through a very bad time in my life, I saw what I wanted to be. And it wasn’t a guy that won, it wasn’t a guy that won everything he did. It was a guy that kept getting up after being knocked down.
So, I realised that if that 2 minutes and 13 seconds changed my life – that’s all it was – I saw something that I needed to be, in the world I was living in, maybe my story will live someone the 2 minutes and 13 seconds they need to change their life.
Millions of people live in a very comfortable place. That’s fine. Don’t listen to me. A lot of people are looking for that 2 minutes and 13 seconds, and I might be that person. That’s why I started sharing it.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, you talked about it in the very beginning. I like this: “Your job is to be the best of your ability. This will hurt. The mission is not about making yourself feel better, the mission is about being better and having a greater impact on the world.”
And it sounds like you understanding the fact that you need to put yourself out there a little bit more, is going to reach more people and impact more people, as opposed to always being quiet. Is that was I’m hearing you saying?
David Goggins: Right. Exactly. I had to find the happy medium, because, what’s the point? Like, we all have a story, and I believe that we’re all teachers, and if you don’t learn something, and give back what you learned, what’s the point of living?
Lewis Howes: Yeah, you’re wasting.
David Goggins: You’re wasting. You have all this knowledge of what you learned. Some people may think you’re crazy, some people may put a title on you, but it’s those few people who are like, “You know what? I needed to hear that.” So you have to put yourself out there.
Lewis Howes: So was there an awakening for you in the last few years that said, “Okay, I’m not dong this enough, of putting myself out there. I’m not telling my story, I’m wasting certain aspects of my life, by not getting that message out.”?
David Goggins: There were a lot of e-mails that came in to me, and I didn’t realise, when you live your life, you don’t know what it’s doing to people, because it’s my life. I didn’t know my life was as bad as it was, because it’s my life, it’s what I went through.
Lewis Howes: So it’s like the norm.
David Goggins: It’s the norm, it’s what I did, man. But when I started getting these e-mails from people saying, “Hey, man! You know what? You changed my life! That part changed my life! That part of your story changed my life!”
Because I have so many different parts of my life that so many people resonate with different spots. Maybe it’s the obese part, maybe it’s the bullying part, maybe it’s the learning disability part, maybe it’s the abusive parent part. Whatever it may be, so many people draw from my story, that I started getting these e-mails and I was like, “Gosh, man!”
And I’m a big believer in something more powerful than me. I don’t know what it is, but I’m not the end all. So, I was like, “I got to start doing more. If I’m touching these people’s lives…”
Lewis Howes: Right, a few people here and there.
David Goggins: Right, maybe I need to go out here and do some more.
Lewis Howes: Crazy story, man! I mean, if you guys haven’t gotten the book, you guys can actually pre-order the book. This is actually a galley copy here, printed out. Make sure you guys check this out – Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind And Defy The Odds.
And when I was reading the first part of the book, about your childhood, I mean, your father just seems like, was so abusive, physically. I mean, it’s one thing to be emotionally abusive, and another thing to be physically, and when you have both, it’s the perfect storm of the makings for chaos in your life, and it just sounded like he was just nasty.
Nasty and everything was your fault, and you were always wrong and you weren’t living up to his standard, both you and your brother ,and your mom. And it was just constant physical abuse over and over. I mean, the story of you being bent over and him just whipping you over and over and you just gasping for air, I was like, “Oh my gosh! This is crazy!”
How did you deal with that? How did you overcome the constant physical and emotional abuse?
David Goggins: You know what? It’s all I knew. So, when you’re born to that, it’s all you know. I mean, you know something’s not right, because in my mind as young kid, I could tell, but the way I was processing things wasn’t right.
I mean, I suffer from severe toxic stress, and that was one of the big reasons why. I had a learning disability. My focus in life was way off. I was afraid, I was afraid of everything, and when you have that kind of foundation growing up, that’s where you start life at, is being abused and also working all night at a skating rink, not going to school and you have a guy who is an alcoholic and the second he got drunk, he got mad.
So, our house lived in fear. And the one thing that you can’t ever get out of a kid’s mind is your mom’s face.
Lewis Howes: The terror of your mom. Yeah, that’s the worst.
David Goggins: The terror of your mom’s face. So, I didn’t care about my brother, I didn’t care about me, but I saw this woman go from Mary Poppins, the sweetest person on planet Earth, and when you see your mom start to transform to a shell, to a person whose face becomes stoic, a person who has no emotion, that changes a kid.
And when you’re young, and you have to grow up so fast. So, by eight years old, my mind was [like that] of a forty-year-old. Life came at me, and it makes your brain… You know, outside playing with kids, you’re trying to avoid getting beat, you’re trying to avoid all these things.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, and in your home it’s supposed to be safe, and you’re getting beat again.
David Goggins: Right, right, exactly. And what’s funny about that, we lived on Paradise Road. We lived on Paradise Road.
Lewis Howes: It wasn’t so paradise.
David Goggins: Yeah, man, you know, once those doors shut… You know, my dad gave everybody a different view of him.
Lewis Howes: He wore the nice tailored suit, he smiled.
David Goggins: That’s right, “Your dad’s amazing!” Those doors shut, man, and the devil himself came out. So, it was rough, and that’s why my foundation was so beaten down at a young age.
Lewis Howes: So, learning disability, I grew up dyslexic, so I can relate to that of just constantly feeling stupid and insecure. I had a tutor my entire life, until I finished college, I had a tutor. Second grade reading level when I was in eighth grade, it was just a constant struggle, emotionally.
And I took that outlet into sports and said, “I’m just going to train myself to be the best that I can be, in a place where I can learn something differently and pick up a different skill. But, with your learning disability, with your dad beating you, screaming at you, emotionally challenging your mind, with the racism you dealt with, with the different struggles you felt with bullies, what was the hardest obstacle to overcome up until fifteen, sixteen?
David Goggins: The hardest obstacle was myself. I started realising more and more and more that all these people were gone. What was haunting me was me. I can’t control my dad, I can’t control the people calling me ‘nigger’, I can’t control all these things, but they were things that kept me down.
It started becoming my reality. My reality was what they made it out to be. The most important conversation you’ll ever have in your life is the one you have with yourself. And my conversation was absolutely horrifying.
Lewis Howes: What were you saying to yourself?
David Goggins: “I’m dumb. I’m nobody.” I mean, my dad was great in mental warfare. A drunk, insecure man, will make everybody around him feel like hell. Because he wants to give you no power. And that’s why he was so mean to my mom and myself and my brother, because he didn’t want anybody to get above him.
He wanted to keep you down low, so when you’re growing up with all this stuff, all this hate – and it wasn’t the beatings, I could take the beatings all day. It was the mental torture. At a young age, your parents put a dialogue in you of confidence, or ‘you’re nobody.’
So that voice in my head was, “I’m a loser.” And then it was confirmed when I got in school and in third grade I was falling behind. They wanted to put me in a special school, you know, with kids who can’t learn. It was confirmed, what my dad was saying. So that confirmed it.
Then I started cheating. I started realising, “You know what? I’m taking the easy way out again. And it started snowballing from there. Now the kids are calling me ‘nigger’, but it wasn’t all the kids. So, what happens is, you start to get this picture that everybody hates you, because your reality becomes so big that you can’t see the clear picture.
Lewis Howes: It might have been three or four kids, doing it over and over.
David Goggins: Right! But it was ‘the whole town’, ‘everybody’ hated me.
Lewis Howes: “The world hates me!”
David Goggins: That’s right. And that’s when it became toxic, and that is where I became my worst enemy.
Lewis Howes: Wow. So, those were the conversations you were having.
David Goggins: Those were the conversations.
Lewis Howes: When did you start to realise that those conversations weren’t supporting your life?
David Goggins: So, my mom was getting ready to get married, and this guy came into our lives, his name was Wilmoth. He came into our lives and, like I always say, whenever my life is getting better, God will put another challenge in front of me. He gets murdered.
Lewis Howes: Oh man!
David Goggins: And we move back to Brazil. So we move from this town, this small town in Brazil, and we move to Indianapolis, Indiana. A lot more blacks, a lot more different colours.
Lewis Howes: Weren’t you in New York at some time, too?
David Goggins: I was born in Buffalo, New York. Then I went from Buffalo, to Indiana, and then from Indiana to Indianapolis, Indiana. In Indianapolis, Indiana, he got murdered when I was Indianapolis, we moved back to Brazil. And when we went back to Brazil, this is when the racism started.
Because, now, I’m sixteen, so when I was first in Brazil, I was eight and nine, kids don’t care. You’re just a kid. I look different, but kids don’t care, kids don’t know! But when I moved and I came back, I’m no longer a kid. So all the kids I grew up with, I’m now different, I’m now different.
So, there’s about five black kids in my school. The reality came when I came out one day and on my car was spray painted, “Nigger, we’re going to kill you.”
Lewis Howes: Gosh! In Brazil?
David Goggins: In Brazil.
Lewis Howes: In Portuguese?
David Goggins: No, no, my fault, Brazil, Indiana.
Lewis Howes: Okay, from Indianapolis to Brazil, Indiana. Got it.
David Goggins: Yeah, so I was in Brazil, Indiana, and about ten minutes from Brazil, Indiana, is a small town called Center Point, Indiana. And Center Point, Indiana was, at that time, a huge hub of the KKK. In 1995, the Klan marched on the 4th of July parade. I don’t know if any pictures are in there, but if not, there’s a picture in the book, in 1995, ten minutes from my house, of crosses being burned.
Lewis Howes: Ten minutes from your house?
David Goggins: Ten minutes from my house. So, when you have all of this negativity, growing up, and now you’re cheating, you’re doing this, and your dad beats you, and your mom’s fiancé gets murdered, it’s tragedy, after tragedy, after tragedy, and then you come to this. And your mom’s working three jobs, she’s not home at all.
She didn’t see one report card of mine. She didn’t know how bad off I was in school. She was hustling trying to make money, and I was the man of the house, lying, sneaking around, not going to school.
Lewis Howes: Cheating, stealing, everything.
David Goggins: Yeah, right. Everything I could. I walked out of school one day and saw this, “Nigger, we’re going to kill you,” on my car, and I went in to get the principal. There were several instances like this that happened. I went in to get the principal, and he couldn’t give me any advice.
And I didn’t want to tell my mom about it, because my mom was already bothered by my dad beating her down and now her fiancé got murdered, so I didn’t want to bother her.
Lewis Howes: he last thing on her mind, she’s like, “I’ve dealt with this my whole life.”
David Goggins: Right, I didn’t want to bother her with anything, man. So I kept everything away from her. So I’m in the carwash, trying to scrub this stuff of, and I got home, and it so happens, two weeks later she gets a note form school. And the note says, “You son is going to fail. He’s not going to graduate.”
And she’s like, “What is this?” And I had to come clean with my mom, with all the years of me cheating; of all the bullying; of all this and all that. And she was in such a bad spot in her life, that the best thing she could do was, like, “Hey, you know? You’re going to fail. You’re going to fail school.”
And I was like, “My gosh, man.” She was in a dark place, and I was in a dark place. We were kind of on our own, in the same house, but living different lives. And I realised at this time in my life, she was a great mom, but I was on my own. And that’s when the real big change happened, for me, and so I said, “I’m going to join the military.”
Lewis Howes: This is sixteen, seventeen?
David Goggins: Seventeen, eighteen, you know, I wanted to go into the delayed entry program. And I went to take the ASVAB test and I cheated.
Lewis Howes: That’s what you knew.
David Goggins: That’s what I did.
Lewis Howes: You’re good at it, yeah.
David Goggins: So, I got my friend – because I walked to the recruiter’s office and the recruiter said, “You’ve got to take this ASVAB test.” The second I heard ‘test’ I was like, “Man, oh, hang on a second.”
Lewis Howes: “I can’t test to save my life, man.”
David Goggins: “I’m going to go, can I come back tomorrow?” So, I come back, the recruiter starts handing these tests out. I’m like, “Great, I’m going to it with my boy, I’m going to copy off of my boy.” He got a different test than I did. So I couldn’t copy off him. And that’s when the lightbulb hit on.
So I failed that test several times. I failed it twice. I actually failed it twice, and the third time I said, “Mom, I need help.” And she said, “I don’t have much money, but we can afford a tutor for one hour a week for six months.” Because this is my last time taking the test. So I had to learn.
I had a third grade reading level, I’m a junior in high school. So I had six months to learn all this stuff, and I only had a tutor for one hour a week. So, basically, what happened was, she would come in for an hour, and I wasn’t picking it up, any of it. I just couldn’t retain anything.
And it was so much to learn that it overwhelmed me. So, basically, what happened was, I realised I had to go by the store and buy spiral notebooks. And I had to literally write down every single thing repeatedly. So what might take you an hour to learn, it took me hours. Six, eight, nine, ten, hours, I had to write the same thing down.
Lewis Howes: Simple stuff, yeah.
David Goggins: Simple stuff.
Lewis Howes: I hear you, man, that’s my life. That’s my life!
David Goggins: So I had to memorise. So, I didn’t really learn it, I could just recall it from writing it down so many times that on page 71 I remember seeing that. And that’s how I did it, and I ended up passing that test and I got into the military.
Lewis Howes: That’s crazy! What was the greatest lesson your mom taught you, growing up?
David Goggins: Honestly, she greatest lesson she ever taught me is the lesson that – she doesn’t know how much she taught me, because she wasn’t much in the teaching mode, my dad took her soul, but what I did, as a young kid, is I observed. Everybody.
I wasn’t really smart in the books, but I as real smart when it came to life, and I was able to sit back and watch her mistakes. I was able to see how she struggled through life, and how I don’t want to struggle through life. And I was able to see, she never picked me up, the biggest thing she did for me – and this is honest to God truth – and she doesn’t even know she did it.
When I was busting my ass, when I would fail, when I was at the bottom of the sewer, she never picked me up. She never gave me that cookie and said, “Oh, you know, son, it’s going to be okay.” She didn’t have time for that.
And sometimes she gets upset when I talk about my past, because it paints her out to be not the best mom. If I had any [other] kind of mom in that kind of environment, I would have never made it. Because she forced me, for whatever reason, she forced me to, “You better figure his out, or you’re going to be a statistic.”
And this is something that she didn’t sit down and tell me, I realised this. This is the world that is in front of me. And what most people do is, they see this world and they look at it as an excuse to get out of it. I started looking at it as, this is the ultimate training ground for the rest of my life. I have all these valuable lessons. Because if you look out at the world right now today, it’s not a nice place.
But I’m very prepared for it. I’m prepared for it. I’m prepared for all the failure coming my way, I’m prepared for everything coming my way. And that’s the biggest lesson that she taught me, by not teaching me. By never saying, “It’s going to be okay.”
Matter of fact, she told me the exact opposite: Life sucks. That’s what she knew, and it was the truth.
Lewis Howes: It was her reality.
David Goggins: That was her reality, and so I saw that, and so I started at that point in my life. I have a lot more failures, as you see in that book, but I started down the road of, instead of the path of least resistant, I started to choose the path of most resistance to prepare myself for the journey that was coming my way.
Lewis Howes: Wow. And most kids don’t prepare themselves for the most resistance. They want to get out of things.
David Goggins: No, they want to get out of things.
Lewis Howes: Get off the hook, not put in the extra reps, they want the easiest path to get to the top.
David Goggins: Right, exactly.
Lewis Howes: Huh. I look at my life, and I hear you talk about really diving into pain, and embracing pain and finding, looking for the pain. And I think there’s a safe pain, and there’s probably an unsafe pain, like jumping off a building and whatever and trying to land on 20 floors or something, it’s probably not the safe way to do things.
But doing 200 miles endurance running is a different way of pain, looking at pain. And that’s what I’ve been looking for my whole life is like, finding the pain, and I talk about doing something every day that’s painful, in a good, structured environment. And you’ve been doing that for the last couple of years now.
You work out every day, you haven’t missed a day.
David Goggins: I’ve been doing it for the last twenty-something years of my life.
Lewis Howes: Twenty years? Twenty I thought you said two years!
David Goggins: No, twenty-something years of my life.
Lewis Howes: Every day you work out.
David Goggins: So, you should take one day off a week. I used to take one day off a week.
Lewis Howes: For your body to recover, right? That makes sense.
David Goggins: But that one day off was an active recovery day, where I would get on a trainer and ride for, like, two hours. But at a zone one heart rate, very low heart rate, and I would replace the carbohydrates in my body while I rode, because the best way to recover, for me, is to do something at a very low heart rate.
Because therefore, your blood’s flowing through your body. As your blood’s flowing through your body, refuel it with the nutrients, because then your blood’s flowing, the nutrients are going to all your cells in your body, or that glucagen is now flowing at a low heart rate, so it’s not burning it, it’s refuelling it.
Every Sunday used to be that, and it kind of snowballed into – as human beings, we believe – so many people, before I give them a workout plan, they’re talking about recovery. Everybody that hears me speak, they want to go straight to recovery. Work out first. Work out first.
Before you talk to me about recovery, work out first. We are always looking for, like, whenever I talk to people, people take my words, and they put it in a way to where they feel comfortable. They want to put you in a box. They want to put a title on you. No, you put a title on my to make yourself feel better about yourself.
If you read this book of mine and you see where I came from, this person was not built. This person was not made by God. This person, sorry, this person was built. I made this person. I made this person by diving into the insecurities that life gave me, because now they’re yours. They’re yours to own.
I you’re not smart, call yourself dumb, it’s okay. Because you are. But take that not as putting yourself down. If you’re fat, call yourself fat. I used to be 300lbs. We want to talk so soft to ourselves, we’re looking for that recovery day. And that recovery day is everything in your life.
Everything in your life is a recovery day. We’re looking for it. It’s not coming. It’s not coming. Get over that recovery day. And that’s the mentality I took with me, and what happened in that process was, all the frivolous things of life started to float away.
I used to tell people lies, so they would like me, because I was so insecure. When you start to build yourself up, and start to have the one thing that we don’t have is confidence. Real, authentic confidence, from hard work, everything else goes away.
You no longer look to other people for your self esteem.
Lewis Howes: Validation, and so on, yeah.
David Goggins: That’s right. You now know. I walk in the room now ,and I know the hours and years and decades I put into David Goggins. That’s not on the wall. That’s not a trophy on teh wall, it’s not a medal around your neck. It is actually a feeling in your heart, and people are like, “Why don’t you ever smile?” I don’t have to!
I do have a stoic look on my face. I’m a very focused person, but the feeling I have in my soul and in my heart, that’s why I don’t need to smile. I don’t need to smile. I don’t need you to look at me and say, “Oh my gosh, you look happy!” Because half of us aren’t happy. We’re giving you something that we think you want to see.
I don’t do that any more. I don’t care how you perceive David Goggins, because through my journey, I figured out the one piece I was missing. I thought it was cars; I thought it was women; I thought it was money; I thought it was everything. The one piece I was missing was me having the courage to face myself.
And once you do that on a daily basis, it’s not about the running. You talk to me about working out. You know where I got my work ethic from? The ours I had to spend learning this. When you sit down, and you’re not smart, you have a disability, and you still want to be the top of your class – I didn’t just want to get by – when I realised that I can learn, do hard work, and I can beat the valedictorian of the school, if I can put in ten hours more a day than he does, you know what kind of strength comes from that?
When you’re sitting down and that valedictorian studied for an hour and you know I caught you, I caught you and I am dumb, but I have the work ethic to catch you. That’s where David Goggins got, really, invented. It was at a kitchen table, with 20 spiral notebooks that were empty, and then, three months later, they were full.
And if you go through them – I still have them in my storage – if you go through these spiral notebooks of your life, and you go, “This is how I learned. This is unbelievable!” There’s no miles, it’s not about the miles. It’s that, having the discipline every day to say, “For me to learn this one math problem it’s going to take me ten hours,” you realise, through hard work, you can outwork anybody.
No matter how bad ass they are, but that’s the part people don’t want to dive into.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, when someone’s lacking confidence in themselves, what’s the answer you would give them, if they were, like, “How do I gain more confidence?”
David Goggins: It starts with yourself, man. You’ve got to start diving into those things that you are afraid of. You don’t gain confidence by going to the spot that makes you feel good. It’s going to be a false reality. The second life gives you that challenge all you want to do is go back to what gave you confidence. It’s that happy spot.
No, what gives your confidence, what gave me confidence, was spending years at a kitchen table trying to learn how to read and write on my own. Realising I can’t learn the way you learn, but I can learn. What gives you confidence is not not being afraid, it’s overcoming the fear.
I used to stutter severely bad. So, right now, I don’t know how many people are going to watch this. You know what gives me confidence? It’s that I no longer care if I suddenly start stuttering to you. That’s what gives me confidence, is facing these things, overcoming them, and maybe I don’t overcome them every day, but facing them, and facing them, and facing them.
Pretty soon, it’s like, “You know what, man? This is where it’s at.” It’s not in that comfort zone, it’s in the discomfort zone, is where my confidence is getting built. That’s where it’s getting built. They want an easier answer, there has to be an easier way. There’s not, I’m sorry.
I searched for it my entire life. I did!
Lewis Howes: You cheated, you lied.
David Goggins: I lied, I did everything, and I still felt empty. I coach a lot of people nowadays, billionaires, who call me on the phone and say, “Man, I’m still missing something.” It’s because they did what they were good at, and they had this beautiful family, two, three houses, cars, everything. Has everything in the world, on the outside looking in, it’s like, “My gosh, man! How can you be unhappy?”
I walk around with a backpack with all my stuff in it, and no car, and I walk around happiest person in the world, have nothing, happy as hell. It’s because I found out the whole key to life, and it’s not in that. You have to face yourself. So many people live to be a hundred years old and they die miserable, having everything, because they never examined.
I call it my live autopsy. You never examine this. Happiness, peace, enlightenment, it’s all up here, man. It’s all up here. If I start talking like this, people go, “Oh, I don’t know, man.” It’s the truth.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. It is true.
David Goggins: All up here. You’ve just got to be wiling to go up and face it. That’s the hard part.
Lewis Howes: What’s your biggest insecurity today?
David Goggins: Not to be arrogant, but I don’t have one.
Lewis Howes: What was the last one you had, and when was that?
David Goggins: The last one I had was probably still me. Me. We used to live in a $7 a month place, growing up.
Lewis Howes: This is in Buffalo?
David Goggins: This is in Indiana. So, we had a lot of money in Buffalo, and when my mom left my dad, we went to nothing for a period of time until she got on her feet. And that $7 a month place used to be, it was who I was. I was no one, I had nothing, and you always feel like you have nothing.
I had achieved so much, I was a Navy SEAL, I’ve gone through Rangers school, I’ve gone through Delta Force Selection Training, I’ve done so much, I’ve run 200 miles, pull-up records, everything! Learned to read and write, became pretty intelligent, and I still was, like, “Man, what is wrong with me?”
It wasn’t until I got real sick – and I talk about it in the last chapter of that book – I get real sick, and I was about thirty-eight years old – I’m forty-three now – and my life got real quiet. I went from running 200 miles in thirty-five hours to where I couldn’t get out of bed. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, but once again, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Lewis Howes: Why was that?
David Goggins: In that moment when my whole life changed, I went from a guy who worked out every day, trained every day, to a guy who couldn’t get out of bed. My life was taken from me. The one thing that kept me going was my training.
Lewis Howes: And now you didn’t have that.
David Goggins: I didn’t have anything.
Lewis Howes: Now you just have to sit alone and not train.
David Goggins: Alone. And that’s what changed me, and that’s when I realised I hadn’t taken time to think about what I had done in my life.
Lewis Howes: You hadn’t reflected yet.
David Goggins: I hadn’t reflected. I had done all these things, but there was not finish line. I still believe that, but you must have time to reflect. I would have finished the race of life, and I wouldn’t receive my medal. I’d go on.
Lewis Howes: You’re like, on to the next thing.
David Goggins: I’d get in the car and I’d go.
Lewis Howes: You wouldn’t even take the medal?
David Goggins: Gone. Don’t care about it.
Lewis Howes: Like, “I’m not going to waste an hour sitting around for the ceremony. It’s soft.
David Goggins: Most people are sitting around, and that’s what they like. They need the cermony of, “I accomplished something.”
Lewis Howes: The validation.
David Goggins: I haven’t done anything. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go! I’m just getting…
Lewis Howes: You’re just getting stared.
David Goggins: That’s right! When I started figuring out life, that I was leaving so much in the tank – I call it my 40% rule – I was leaving so much in the tank, once I realised, “My gosh, man!” I was this dumb, fat kid, being bullied, and now I’m a 180lb person who lost 106lbs in less than three months, learned to read, learned to do this, learned to do that, I was like, “I need more!” I was fuelling my mind with everything and I never took time to say, “My gosh, you came from this hell, and you’re here.”
So, those insecurities, this is how I explain it the best way: SEAL training became pretty hard, and a lot of guys weren’t getting through it. So, they designed a SEAL Prep Program.
Lewis Howes: Like a boot camp for the boot camp.
David Goggins: That’s right. And it was two months, in my last two years before I retired from the military, they sent me there to train these kids, to get ready for BUD/S.
Lewis Howes: Wow. Eighteen, nineteen-year-olds.
David Goggins: Yeah, young kids. So when they get to Navy SEAL training, man, they were physical studs. They were running, swimming, I mean, they were hybrids. But they get to BUD/S and the same amount would quit.
Lewis Howes: Why is that?
David Goggins: This is why: We were training bigger, stronger, faster quitters. It’s not about…
Lewis Howes: It’s not the mind.
David Goggins: That’s right. We weren’t diving in to the sewer. Everybody’s got a story, we don’t share it on social media, we share our nice life on social media. We all have a dungeon – I’m just willing to talk about mine. Most of us don’t really talk about it.
I’m going to talk about my dungeon. I wasn’t getting into the dungeon of these guys’ minds. I wasn’t building that so-called mental toughness. Mental toughness isn’t something that you sample, it’s something that you live in, every day. So, when something hard would happen to these kids, in hell week, it would draw on something that made them very insecure, and they’d look for comfort.
Whenever hardness comes, and you don’t know what it is, it may be different for you than it is for me, but you go back to your insecurities, and then , when you go back to your insecurities, you then look for comfort within those insecurities, and we all look for that cookie that your mother used to give you when you were sad, when you were sick.
We look for our wife, or our husband. We look for comfort. It’s in those moments you must retrain your mind to think differently in hell. I wasn’t training them to do that.
Lewis Howes: Why weren’t you training them?
David Goggins: I wasn’t training myself to do that, because at that time, I as was doing as I as told. These guys needed to meet a standard.
Lewis Howes: A physical standard.
David Goggins: A physical standard. The physical standard is not what they need to meet. It’s a mental standard you must meet in life. So, going back to when I was sick, I was hitting the physical standards. I wasn’t meeting the mental standard. The mental standard is, “You must know how far you’ve come.”
I had come 8,000 miles from where I started , but if you never know that, you’re still in the $7 a month place. When I was sick, I was able to slow it down and reflect back on my entire life and in that bed, when I thought I was dying – because that story is long, that sick portion of my life is long – I didn’t care if I died or lived.
Because I was, for the first time in my life, happy. In that piece. I reflected back in where I had started.
Lewis Howes: You said, “Wow! I have come a long way.”
David Goggins: That’s right. And no one saved me. It wasn’t like someone came down here and got me to do life. When you figure this out on your own, the amount of pride and dignity and self respect you have, that’s why I walk around the streets with a back pack and just, like, I don’t need anything else.
You figure it out by going inside yourself, by callousing over the victim’s mentality. You’re always a victim, even if you have everything in life, you have to first realise what you’ve achieved and my mom has accomplished so much in her life, says my father, but she hasn’t done that one step.
Lewis Howes: Really? She hasn’t acknowledged it and reflected back?
David Goggins: She continues to go back to the dungeon of her past life.
Lewis Howes: And live in that space.
David Goggins: And lie in that space, versus living in the space that she’s in now and reflecting back on, “My gosh! This is what I’ve done with my life.”
Lewis Howes: Have you talked to her about this?
David Goggins: We talk about it all the time, and you have to be willing to go there. You have to be willing to really go there. Not surface. I don’t live on the surface of anything. Surface is what got me where I was at. It got me from 175lbs to 300lbs, telling everybody I’m good, “I don’t give a damn, I’m good.”
No. They’re hollow words. A lot of us speak in hollow words. I used to speak in hollow words. I don’t do that any more, everything that comes out of my mouth has substance, is real. And we all have these feelings in our bodies and in our minds and in our souls. I act on mine.
A lot of us who are afraid of something, we allow for our minds to choose the path of least resistance, so we go a different route. When I’m afraid of something it’s telling me, “You must conquer that, you must do that, you have to go that way.” And most of us don’t understand that mentality.
We go left, and we wonder why we haven’t fulfilled something in our lives. It’s because we continue to take the journey that is mapped out. And how I look at it is, I talk in life, like a lot of us in life want to take the four-lane highway that has road maps and all this other stuff on it, man. It tells you where to go for gas stations, the next ten miles up you’re going to see a McDonald’s, a Crackle Barrel; it’s the easy route.
Very few of us want to go to the right side, where…
Lewis Howes: That Crackle Barrel’s that Midwest life.
David Goggins: That’s right!
Lewis Howes: I’m from Ohio so I kind of…
David Goggins: That’s right, man! All about it! Indiana – Crackle Barrel everywhere!
Lewis Howes: Dude! That’s amazing! Bringing back memories. This is powerful because I’ve been telling people this, I’ve been living that way, unknowingly, my whole life of, like, whatever the thing is I’m afraid of, when I was in high school, I started doing those things.
I was just, like ,”I’m sick and tired of feeling afraid. So I need to do the things that scare me the most. I’ve talked about this for long on the podcast, Tiffany’s heard me share these stories, but I was afraid to talk to girls when I was a teenager, I was afraid of dancing, I was afraid of singing and playing music in front of people, I was afraid of all these different things.
And so I said, “I want to do this. I’m going to give myself a challenge every single day until the fear goes away.” And I feel like that’s what more of us should be doing. I’m hearing that’s how you live your life.
David Goggins: That’s all it is, man!
Lewis Howes: And it helps me feel so much more confident. When you overcome that fear [by] saying, “This doesn’t have control over me any more,” it’s like you can be at so much more peace in life.
David Goggins: That’s true, that’s 100%. For instance, I never thought, in my wildest dreams, I could be a Navy SEAL. It’s until your open mindedness creates that. We all shut down our mind. Like, for instance, when I broke the pull_up record, everyone around me heard the pull-up record was 4020 pull-ups. That’s the first thing they did, “Oh my gosh!”
Lewis Howes: 4000 in 24 hours?
David Goggins: Yeah, it’s 4020 pull-ups in a 24 hour period. The first thing I did, versus closing my mind to it, “Oh my gosh, that’s crazy!” I went and got a pen and a piece of paper.
Lewis Howes: And said, “How many is that every minute, every hour, every second?”
David Goggins: Exactly. Exactly. Instead of taking life and making it out to be this grandiose thing, start breaking it down. Start breaking it down. And most of us, we live in a box, and we don’t want to go outside that box, ever. Outside that box, is all these possibilities of life, but what we do is, we shackle our mind.
We are a prisoner in our own mind that, “This is all I can do, this is all I’m good at.” And we take away the possibilities of, “You could be this, you could be that, you can be all these things.” And I never thought I could be a Navy SEAL. So if my mind was shackled, me and you would never meet. There would be no book , there would be nothing.
So, when people have to understand is that they live for themselves, not knowing that you have the power within yourself, to change millions of lives by facing life, by facing yourself. And through that, I would die, never knowing that I had the power to change millions of lives.
And what haunts me the most, people ask me, “What haunts you the most?” What haunts me he most, is that if I was to die at 300lbs, let’s say I was seventy-five years old, I got to heaven, and God has a chart like that of everybody’s life. God knows all, let’s say that. I don’t care what you believe in, it doesn’t matter. I’m not judging anybody.
Well, let’s say my thing is God. You get to heaven, I’m 300lbs, I sit down, I was a cockroach terminator my whole life, and we’re sitting down just like this – you’re ‘God’ and I’m David – and He gives me that chart and He says, look at this.
And I look at that chart and on the chart it has all these different things, but my name’s on it, but these things aren’t me. I was going to change the world, I was going to set records, I was going to be a Navy SEAL, I was change to be all these things in the military that I accomplished. “You’re going to get the VFW award, you’re going to be honoured here, honoured there.”
And I’m like, “God, I was, this isn’t me. Like, it says ‘David Goggins’, I wasn’t equal to that guy, I sprayed for cockroaches and I’m 300lbs. It says, here, I’m 185. It says here I’ve got a bachelor’s and a master’s, it says all these things.” And God goes, “No, that’s who you were supposed to be.”
My biggest fear in life is that, if there is a final resting place in this world, and there’s a final judgement, and you talk to something much bigger than you, I don’t want to sit down and have a conversation with someone, with something that says, “You’re in heaven, this is what you should have been on Earth.”
And, are you really in heaven now, or are you in hell? Thinking about how much I left on the table, for fear, for not being willing to go over the wall, and over the next wall, and over the next wall. So, in my mind, I believe that, and God knows all. At least, I believe that.
I want God to be up there right now as we’re speaking, writing stuff down and saying, “He exceeded even My expectations.” That’s how I live my life. I now know that there is no cap on the human mind. There’s no cap. We cap it ourselves.
Lewis Howes: Wow. Is there a cap on the human body?
David Goggins: I don’t believe so. Because, on thing I found out was, for several years I gave myself a way out. When I was 300lbs and I was twenty-four years old. I would climb a mountain, I would fall back down. I start climbing, I would fall back down.
For the first twenty-four years of my life. I went to my first hell week, my second hell week, and then my third hell week came, and SEAL training, and then the CEO, Captain Bowen looked at me, I’m on crutches, I’m all jacked up, he says, “Hey, this is your last time you’re going to go through BUD/S. This is it.”
I had several stress fractures, I had double pneumonia, I was jacked up and he gave me few months to heal, and he said, “This is your last time going through, I shouldn’t even let you go back through.” I started Navy SEAL training with stress fractures. Stress fractures. Not shin splints, stress fractures.
Starting the hardest training in the world with stress fractures, and this is when I started to not put a cap on the body, if the mind is there. Every morning I wake up at 03:30, 04:00 in the morning, go to my dive cage, go in there before anybody else saw me, I’d get duct tape, and I would tape from my forefoot, all the way up to the middle of my calf, and I would put two black socks on.
And so, I ran, not using the pivot. I ran on my hip flexors. So, for the first 45 minutes to an hour, I was in absolute, excruciating pain. But what motivated me, through that whole process, was the fact that this kid came from that, I’m in the hardest training in the world, in the worst shape of my entire life – what if I can graduate amongst these studs?
Lewis Howes: Wow.
David Goggins: All these guys around me are studs, they’re stallions, they’re gladiators, in my class, they’re all healthy, most of them. They’re not broken like this. They may have something – everybody’s sick going trough that training, but i I can graduate, it would change everything for me. If I can start the hardest training in the world, broken, and graduate.
So my mind fed off that. You are now, from the weakest man, you are now the hardest man to ever live, if you can do this. If you can do this. Life is one big mind game, and you’re playing it with yourself.
Is it true? I don’t care. It got me through the hardest training, starting out broken. Where most people quit, I had just started. And when you take that mindset and you learn to flip that round, that’s what made me powerful, and my body followed.
And three months later, my stress fractures were healed. By running on them.
Lewis Howes: Calcifying it!
David Goggins: And I’ve never had them since. I’m forty-three years old. I ran 7,000 miles in 2007, haven’t had any stress fractures since, and I’m not saying to do that. I’m just saying that when the mind and the body connect, and you don’t give yourself a way out – the only way out for me, at that time, was death. “I’m going to be a Navy SEAL.”
Lewis Howes: “Or I’m going to die.”
David Goggins: “Or I’m going to die trying.” Period. And my body said, “Roger that. We’re going to get you through this.”
Lewis Howes: So, when the mind gives it no way out, your body says, “Okay, I believe you now, I’m going to figure this out with you, we’re going to do this. It’s going to be the worst part of your life, but we’re going to survive.”
David Goggins: “I’m going to heal. We’re going to survive.” And, as you hear in that 100 mile race I did, I started figuring out more and more and more and more about, at the other end of suffering, is a life that no one – and I’m not talking about ‘go out there and kill yourself’.
Don’t take these words and flip them and say, “Oh my gosh!” No, it’s just being uncomfortable. I call it suffering.
Lewis Howes: Don’t physically injure yourself and then be out for six months, that’s no good.
David Goggins: Yes, that’s no good. I’m not saying, “Do what I did.” I was in the spot that life forced me. I had a choice, I had a choice to be this guy, or the guy that’s in front of you. I had choices, I chose this path.
Lewis Howes: And you’re still choosing it.
David Goggins: And I’m still choosing it.
Lewis Howes: You can go back to that guy any moment.
David Goggins: Yeah, because I found out, I found out something with those stress fractures, I found out something through facing all these things. I found out a whole other world, which is why I walk around with all my stuff in a black backpack.
I found out a whole other way. A whole other way of, not matter how far you get in life, you have to be able to go back to scratch in your mind, at a moment’s notice. You can never get so far beyond scratch.
What that means is, if your accomplish something in life, if you have to go back to scratch, and go back to that $7 a month place where I once lived, and visit that place for a long period of time, if you were here, when you went back to scratch, you would now be here.
Scratch is what makes you better. Scratch, friction, obstacles, create growth. There’s no friction when you’re this far up in the game any more. You think there is. When you’ve achieved so much the friction is minor.
Because, why? I’m sore, I’m going to get a massage today. I’m hungry, I’m going to eat today. The refrigerator is always full, so your comforts are now… So your discomfort is now very miniscule [compared] to your discomfort back here in your $7 a month place. So you have to go back to the total discomfort, to then raise your level of where you’re at now.
I’m not saying go there and stay there. Visit. And then you raise your level.
Lewis Howes: Take a day trip.
David Goggins: That’s right. Always take day trips.
Lewis Howes: Yeah! Don’t stay there, but take a day trip. So, when you complete some massive obstacle and challenge, whatever the adversity that you force upon yourself – because these are all curated experiences for yourself, that you’re scratching constantly – what happens now?
Since this was five years ago, you would just leave, you wouldn’t take the medal, you would just go on to the next, what happens now, when you take a day to reflect, a moment and minutes, how does the process work? And then how do you get back to visiting the $7 place you lived in?
David Goggins: Now, I don’t have to go back and visit it, I don’t have to think about it, it lives with me now. Every day of my damn life. That feeling that I had to go back and think about, I found a way to just have it. It’s constantly there. I have a self talk. I have a self talk, it’s called my cookie jar. And it’s constant reminder of David Goggins, every day of my life.
I believe in quiet. There’s no growth outside of quiet. The world is too noisy. Your mind needs quiet. For you to find who you are. People ask, “Where’s my purpose? Why am I here?” You’re not going to find it nowadays, unless you lock yourself in a quiet room in your mind, and find it. It’s too noisy.
For me, I could be in a busy street in New York City, horns honking, and I’m walking around, with, like, nothing. It’s me and myself in a quiet spot. And when you are constantly reflecting on who you are, where you’ve been, the journey you’ve gone through, the journeys you’re going to continue going through, the feeling’s always there.
You don’t allow the world to pull you so fast, that you forget. You don’t allow you to pull you so fast that you forget. It’s not about staying in that moment. It’s about, you want to get to the point where that feeling follows you like breathing. It becomes a part of your life,a part of your DNA.
But it’s made. Like these callouses on my hands right now, they’re made. They are now on my brain, this is now a part of me. It’s a daily process, a part of me, and how I go back to a $7 a month place, all the time is, now, I go out and I dig fireline. I’m a wildland firefighter. I don’t need to do it. I’m a forty-three-year-old man, I’m working with twenty-seven-year-old kids. And I’m a rookie. Every day I’m a rookie, it feels like.
Lewis Howes: Why do you do it?
David Goggins: That’s why I do it, man! There’s a story I’m going to tell you about why I do it. I have a good living, now, for me, and my wife. I was out on a fire in Colorado, and we were digging fireline on this 50%, it was like, on the side of a mountain, and we’re trying to keep the fire from moving, and we’re digging this fireline, fourteen inches, oh, my fault, eighteen inches wide, three miles long.
Twelve of us digging, and it is the hardest work – you make $12 an hour, okay, nothing. You set up your shop, like, when you’re done digging, you just pretty much lie down, you go to sleep and you get up, you dig some more. That was for two weeks long.
Lewis Howes: Wow. What are you digging? It’s like a hole, you’re digging a line?
David Goggins: So you’re trying to get down to a minimal soil, so you’re trying to get down to the earth, so that if that fire is moving, it can’t burn dirt. So you’re removing fuels. So not only are you digging, you’re cutting down trees, it’s hard work.
But the moral of the story is, I’m forty-three, I don’t need to do this at all. This is why I do it.
Lewis Howes: You’re making money.
David Goggins: I’m making money, I have a good life. I don’t need to do it. Everybody’s asking why I do it. This is why. This twenty-one-year-old kid was out there, and he wanted a pair of running shoes, so I bought him a pair of running shoes. Sixty, seventy, hundred bucks, or whatever, you know? Easy for us, running shoes.
He looked up at the mountain, that we had been on for days, digging this fireline, and he said, “That would have taken me five or six hours of work to buy those shoes, so I’m not going to buy them. It’s the perspective of life. That perspective of life right there, of, that is the value that we lose.
When things start to come so easy in life, it’s the perspective that twenty-one-year-old had when he looked up at that mountain and thought – he looked at his hands, he looked at the amount of hours of pulling that Pulasky, that tool, and raking that ground and then cutting those trees and moving them, and those hours of work.
He looked at his feet and said, “These old shoes will do.” It’s that perspective in life that we lose. And to most people that story may not mean anything. It’s that story I always want to have in my life. You cannot lose perspective of where you’ve come in life.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. It’s so true. We were in Guatemala – was it this year or last year? – last year; we were in Guatemala last year. We support a charity called Pencils Of Promise that builds schools for kids who live in poverty, all around the world.
And every year I take a trip to just see where our efforts are being felt and being made. These are the poorest places in Guatemala, Laos, and Ghana, places that they have nothing. They have no schools, they live in little villages in dirt huts, everything, right?
And we go and we build these schools. Actually, the villagers build them themselves, we just fund the experience and we empower them to do it, so that they take ownership of it. But I’ll be there for a few days and watch these kids so happy with just a pencil. Or just so happy to just have their family around.
And they’ll go and they’ll show us their huts, and they’re just so happy to have community and then I’ll fly back and go through Beverley Hills, and I’ll see these mansions. I live right next to it, and it gives me so much perspective of, you don’t need to have all these things to find peace and joy and connection and intimacy and all these other things that we want.
You don’t need these big mansions and to live in this nice place, you know? I like living here, but it’s perspective, for me, is what keeps me motivated as well, to keep doing the right things, to keep showing up, to keep working hard. And I think you’re right, most of us miss that perspective in life.
David Goggins: Right, we get so far away from reality, and the reality is, when I was seven years old, eight years old, all I wanted was a 99c quarter pounder from Hardee’s. And that made me happy as hell.
Lewis Howes: I know, right? Some curly fries.
David Goggins: That’s it, man! That’s it!
Lewis Howes: Yeah, the thing is, a lot of us have been conditioned, or some of us grew up with wealth, or grew up with comfort, and so we’re conditioned that way and we grow up expecting, now, that things should come a lot easier.
David Goggins: That’s a damn shame!
Lewis Howes: And we get frustrated when we don’t get it right away.
David Goggins: That’s right, quickly.
Lewis Howes: Quickly, yeah. And I’m always talking about delayed gratification. The longer I can wait till I receive gratification, the more fulfilled I am.
David Goggins: That’s right. I am a person, so when I got sick, like I did, I actually had to quit this race called Badwater.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, 135 miles, right?
David Goggins: Yeah, through Death Valley. It was 2014 when I got real, real bad. I pulled out of the race at mile 50, I went to the emergency room, and the docs were like, “We can’t find this, we can’t find that, we don’t know what’s wrong with you.”
When I got in that bed – so, this is the crazy thing about gratification, long term, I’m able to watch grass grow by finding out this – I sat there, couldn’t run a quarter mile, couldn’t get out of bed. The only thought I had in my mind, I pulled out of that race, and I told myself, “I’m going to go back to Badwater one day, and I’m going to win it. I’m going to win that race.”
Haven’t been back since. 2019, I’m not saying I’m going to win it, I’m just now in the shape to go back. Haven’t run a 100 mile race since 2014, because I’ve been that sick. I’m just now, imagine the gratification I’m going to get by getting to the start line of that race. And what if I can win it?
Lewis Howes: It would be pretty sweet, after four or five years, yeah, it’ll be pretty sweet.
David Goggins: Pretty sweet. Imagine that! After having that kind of self-discipline of every day waking up and having these setbacks where I can’t even run a mile, but I’m thinking about running 135. I can’t run one mile, but I’m thinking about running 135. And with that process, guess what happens? Sooner or later, you can run ten miles.
I mean, it might take a year, but it gives you more and more hope that it’s possible. And I’m at the point, now, where, guess what? It’s right around the corner. Most people, in that time frame and in that mindset, “I can’t run any more, it’s over.” No. It’s just going to take a little bit longer.
You have to turn the negative into a positive. Because, at the end of it all, if you can sit back and wait. If you can wait, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, twelve years, when you get to that point when you finish, that’s the feeling for twelve years, that’s what keeps you going, is you got to feel, I’m doing it for one second.
Lewis Howes: Years of pain!
David Goggins: For one second. One second. Think about it. You cross the finish line, it’s over. One second.
Lewis Howes: Most people do that, and the one second isn’t what they thought it would be and then they’re pissed and upset and they keep going on to the next, because they never reflect back on what they did.
David Goggins: It’s not the one second, it’s the twelve years.
Lewis Howes: Yeah.
David Goggins: Its the twelve years. It’s not the race, it’s the twelve years why you did it.
Lewis Howes: It’s not the winning. It’s not what place you got, but most of us focus on, “Oh, I’ve got to win this, and if I don’t I’m going to be upset. I would achieve all my athletic goals, for years, and then, ten minutes later, be the angriest person in the world. So angry and frustrated, nasty with people.
And I would delay my gratification for years, to achieve what I wanted, and I never understood that either.
David Goggins: That’s right. Being a perfectionist is the worst thing that can happen to a person. When I lost that 106lbs in like two and a half months or whatever it took me, that as the biggest trophy of my entire life. I didn’t care if I didn’t graduate Navy SEAL training. I didn’t care. What I just accomplished in that time frame, is massive.
It was funny about this, we talk about mental toughness nowadays, it’s like the biggest crave. When I grew up, it was just, “Suck it up!” It was just, “Make it happen.” You had to figure out, it was called figure it out, man! And all these nuggets that I gained along the way, that’s what it was about. It wasn’t about the Trident, it wasn’t about all those doggone medals, it wasn’t about any of that.
And that’s why I hate even talking about being a SEAL, you know? Mission stories and all that. And people, “Why don’t you want to talk about it?” It didn’t define me. The journey getting there was harder than going through it.
So, that’s the whole thing about life, man. It’s the journey, that makes you who you are.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, and, as opposed to focusing on, “Did I win or not?” – “What did I gain from the last twelve years.
David Goggins: Yeah, exactly.
Lewis Howes: And so, when you finish now, what do you think about? How long do you reflect back on the effort it took to accomplish that race?
David Goggins: A long time.
Lewis Howes: What, days?
David Goggins: Weeks, years. Years.
Lewis Howes: You reflect on it.
David Goggins: I reflect back now, there’s times now, where I will reflect on my first 100 mile race. Still today. And it will give me the same exact feeling, because what I did in that first race, when I was under-trained, I did it on four days’ notice. I hadn’t run more than, I think, twenty miles the whole year, and I did it to raise money for the First Foundation to try to get into Badwater.
What I had to pull out of myself, on that last… And that’s where that book, Living With A SEAL, kind of originated. Jesse Itzler saw me at this race.
Lewis Howes: He was racing, too.
David Goggins: Yeah, but he did it as a team.
Lewis Howes: Right, you did it alone.
David Goggins: It did it alone. And that’s why I talk with people about, “Man, I spent so much time,” and people are always like, “Why did you run so much? Were you trying to get into shape?” No, the things I do in life, most of life, you’re alone. You might have a whole support crew around you, but up here, you’re alone.
Most of the stuff I do, I’m training for those moments. Those moments were I was at mile 70 and I had thirty more miles to go and I had crapped up my back and peeing blood down my leg, and I have thirty miles to go. There’s only so much someone cheering can do for you.
When you start to dive back into the cellar of your mind, and you’re pulling out all these tactics, all these mental tactics to get through the last 30 miles when you’re in the worst shape of your life, and no one’s coming to save you, you get through that.
I want to go back there. When I got done with that race, I lay in the tub and my ex-wife helped me get up the stairs and I’m laying in this tub, and Coca-Cola’s coming out of me. It was like dirt. She’s a nurse and she’s freaking out. And he puts the shower on me and I’m looking at her, and all I want to do is call the race director, of Badwater, up and say, “I qualified for the race.”
And she’s thinking, “We need to go to the hospital,” and she’s calling my mom, and my mom has a doctor friend of hers who’s over ,and they’re freaking out, and I just said, “Everybody, just shut up.” I’m in the worst pain of my entire life and no one will ever understand this, no one.
When you’ve gone that deep inside yourself, and all those feelings of pain that I had – I was in the worst pain of my life, ever – and some of them think, “Man, you’re just crazy.” You know? When you’ve done that, and you’ve figures out so much on your own, and all that pain and discomfort I had in that tub, lying there, passing out, everything, was confirmation of what I had just figured out.
I had just figured out the code. I figured out a code, a code that many people aren’t looking for and I want it to be known. That feeling, this was confirmation, this was like a scientists notes. The notes were here, the notes were all this feeling, it was a confirmation, and no one, at that time, could understand what I had just done.
I had cracked a code to human potential, in myself. And I was sitting there, like, “O my gosh! This is unbelievable what I just did!” So, it’s that quiet place. It’s that place by yourself, it’s those hours and years an decades by yourself, in the grip of life, where life has you by the throat and choking you out, and you’re sitting there, calm. Because you’re trying to figure it out.
You’re not panicking, you’re not quitting, you’re not throwing in the towel, you’re saying, “There’s a way around this.” And when you figure it out, when life has you gripped in a vice, and you can figure that out, that’s when you overcome. That’s when you overcome.
And that’s why that one moment, for me, in that tub, I don’t want anyone to take away from me.
Lewis Howes: Wow! This is crazy, man! I love this! Do you have any fears today?
David Goggins: I do have a lot of fears today, but it’s hard for me to all them fears any more. I don’t use that word any more. They’re almost like it’s another challenge, because anything that makes me feel that fear feeling, is going to get overcome, it’s going to get conquered.
Lewis Howes: You’re going to do it.
David Goggins: That’s almost like fear is my ultimate guide, of where I’m supposed to be going. It’s my ultimate guide.
Lewis Howes: What’s the big challenge for you, then?
David Goggins: The biggest challenge, for me, is always going – I want to be comfortable.
Lewis Howes: You want to be comfortable? You want to sleep in a nice bed and relax and you want to chill out.
David Goggins: I’m a normal human being. And the time is going to come. There’s a time for everybody to get civilised. The worst thing in life that happens to a man is they get civilised. Or a woman, anybody, because you lose the hunger for life.
You think you’ve arrived, and once you have an ‘I’ve arrived’ mentality, that’s my biggest fear, is I get to the point where I’m at that point where life has come to me and I have that feeling of ‘I’ve arrived’. I now know my life, for what I know it to be, is over. Even though that’s where comfort is and everything else, I’ve found the most life in the most uncomfortable places in the world, I was the Goggins that I invented.
Because David Goggins was weak. I never want to get rid of Goggins, the Goggins I created, a weak person, that used to be, the guy I created that can handle anything. You don’t want to let go of that guy, because you realise that that guy was made. You weren’t born him. And that is, when you get comfortable, Goggins starts to die.
He starts to die; that one creature in the Black Lagoon, that can live in a sewer, that can eat rats all day, that doesn’t need water, that doesn’t need sunlight, that doesn’t need anything, he can just live, because he knows he can.
That’s a powerful human being that you never want to… It’s in everybody, that’s the scary thing about it. That’s what makes me so upset, man! Is that everybody wants to put this daggone lable on me. They forget the first three chapters of my book. They forget how this started.
A lot of times it takes someone’s wife dying, or something like that, for them to change.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, or a near death.
David Goggins: Exactly. No! No! None of that! I wanted to figure out, “Is there more to this horrible feeling of feeling like a loser? Can I change this?” And once you figure out, “I have the ability,” not through your mom or your dad or through a special school, through you. You have the ability to change this! That’s what makes me so mad!
Once people put this title on me, you now give yourself a ‘get out of jail free’ card, and saying, “Oh, he’s just crazy, he’s special, he’s unique, he’s this and that,” you just saved yourself.
Lewis Howes: From not having to do the work.
David Goggins: From not having to do the work. And that’s why I want people to hear my story. I’m trying to take away all that bull crap that you want to put on me, I’m trying to make you suffer up here, to know, “He really had a hard way to go. There was nothing special about him. He wasn’t talented, he wasn’t gifted, he wasn’t nothing.”
He wasn’t nothing. And he made it. I want everybody to feel uncomfortable around me, that’s it, because I want you to go home and think about yourself. Think about yourself, man, because you’re leaving so much on the table for the possibilities of what you can be.
Lewis Howes: You say most people are at 40% potential. What percent are you at?
David Goggins: I like to say that I live in the 90 percentile, sometimes 99. 100% is dead.
Lewis Howes: 99 sometimes?
David Goggins: 99 sometimes. The reason why I know 99, because the first five hours of my day, I am very uncomfortable.
Lewis Howes: What do you do?
David Goggins: First of all, every morning I get up – and people think I love to run. I don’t.
Lewis Howes: That’s why you do it.
David Goggins: That’s why I do it, and people don’t understand that mentality. “Oh, you have to love it, man.” No, running has changed my life, because every morning I know I’m going to do it. If you do something every morning that you don’t like, every morning I’m going to do it for – and guess what? If I just ran for an hour a day, a day is 24 hours, right? What percent is that? What’s one hour out of 24 hours? Four percent? A small percent.
But anyway, that’s why I know I’m at a high level, because not wanting to be uncomfortable, I put myself in the dungeon every day, off jump, out of bed, it starts.
Lewis Howes: Shoes on, running.
David Goggins: Out of bed, right? Where most people lose the battle in the morning, once you leave your beautiful house, the war starts. Nowadays, it starts before you leave home. The phone rings, social media is up, the world’s attacking you.
If you don’t control what you can, to build that armour… So, in the morning time, what I’m doing is I’m building my armour. It gets broken every night. I get up in the morning time, I start to build the armour, “Lets run. Got to do our sit-ups, our push-ups, our pull-ups, go to the gym, do strength and stretch.”
Lewis Howes: You do one hour in the morning, of training?
David Goggins: In the morning? Oh, no, I do at least an hour and a half of running, then I’m in the gym, and then at night time, every night for the last five to six years, five and a half years, I’ve only missed two days of stretching, two to three hours.
Lewis Howes: Two to three hours a night, stretching.
David Goggins: Only missed two days in five and a half years.
Lewis Howes: Wow! Stretching! Why stretching?
David Goggins: That is rough. So, the sickness I had was my psoas muscle that got real tight, and it caused my body, long story short, to pretty much choke me out from the inside. So, when you’re young, you psoas muscle is your fight or flight muscle. Where we’re sitting down right now, we’re using that hip flexor muscle.
When you’re under stress your whole life, as I was, being afraid of my father, it’s tight, your whole body’s tight.
Lewis Howes: Clenched, yeah.
David Goggins: Then I choose a job like being a Navy SEAL, it’s even tighter. And then I put myself under stress. It’s just tightening and tightening until it’s a vice grip. And you need healthy blood flow through your body. I wasn’t getting any of that. So I pushed so hard in life.
People say, “Oh, it’s because you ran so much.” No. Sorry, life.
Lewis Howes: Emotional stress.
David Goggins: Yes, emotional stress made me just tight. So now, I couldn’t sit down here for ten seconds, I was wound. What that’s done to me is it’s allowed me to be even more open minded. I stretch out, I get my body lengthened out, it lengthens my mind out, the possibilities out, I can calm myself down.
So, during the morning time, I build the armour, I face the world, because now I know there’s going to be some disappointments along the way, every day. That’s life. But if you face disappointments already in victory, the things I can control. I can control my run, I can control how my house looks, how my world is, I can control this, so I’ve won, opened my door of life.
Life started to beat me down, but I’m facing it with the body armour that I created. And now I’m facing life with the proper tools. Unlike, I hit the snooze button, I’m running late, my house is a mess, my mind’s a mess. Now life’s already beat you.
So you open the door and now life hits you and you’re already frustrated, you’re already in the anxiety mode, because you’re stressed already. And then life starts to pile more on top of you. You get home, you’re exhausted. And that’s how life happens, to everyone.
You have to live and win what you can, and build the body armour, start callousing the mind so you’re ready for combat outside of your house, because it’s going to come. And that’s what I realised at a young age. I had no body armour, I had no callouses, so when life came at me, I ran, I tucked, I lived in the foetal position, trying to get away from life.
I wasn’t protected, I didn’t know how to protect myself, I had nothing. So I started realising, I’ve got to form an armour, so I won’t have to lie to you, to make you like me. So I’m not approaching people feeling insecure, saying I have all these material things that I don’t have. When you have that body armour, you tell people, “Hey man, I’m not real smart, but I try real hard. I won’t win this race, man, but I’ve been running for the last four years, every day.
That’s the mentality that you need to have. Look at people knowing, I know you and everybody else has issues, why am I worried about what anybody else thinks of me? We’re all in the same boat here. Some boats may be bigger than others, but we all have problems. So be it. We’re all in the same boat.
Some of us are willing to not lie about it. I’m at that point where I no longer care. Because why? Why can I go on here and tell people how f***ed up I am? Because I faced them. They no longer define who I am. It’s not me, it was me.
Lewis Howes: They don’t control you any more. When you’re training in the morning and training at night, or stretching at night, what are you visualising or thinking about?
David Goggins: Nothing. When I’m training in the morning time.
Lewis Howes: I mean, it’s a run for an hour and a half, and gym and callisthenic type of stuff.
David Goggins: Sometimes it’s longer. An hour to an hour and a half is the minimum. If I’m doing like a 100 mile race, like now I’m starting to build my miles up because I’m training for a race in January, you know, that could be two, two and a half, three hours. Then once I come home from that, it’s right into the gym, immediately.
So I’m exhausted, I’m tired, I’m dehydrated, sodium low, everything, and that’s the edge.
Lewis Howes: Because it’s even more uncomfortable to do.
David Goggins: That’s right. Because all I want to do then, is stretch.
Lewis Howes: Stretch, drink water, relax.
David Goggins: That’s it. I had a long run, I’m hot, I’m dehydrated.
Lewis Howes: You already didn’t want to run!
David Goggins: That’s right. So that’s when – because in the race of life, life’s not going to give you a glass of water when you’re thirsty. And I realise that. And once again people go, “Your life is horrible!” It’s not. This is how I live, this is what I want.
I don’t judge anybody, this is how I live. I there’s not people like me in this world, with this kind of mentality – it’s not ‘be like David Goggins, go run 200 miles’ – take something from this. Take something from this. Remember where I started from. You don’t need to go where I went.
I went this far because I started opening different door to the cellar in my brain, “Is this possible? Oh my gosh! That’s possible! This is possible!” I started opening different compartments. You can leave them shut, I don’t care.
So what I do in the morning time, I do this because my life’s not going to give me the ‘get out of jail free’ card. And if I come on here on this podcast, and talk this stuff, I have to live what I say. So, when you come up from a world of you used to lie a lot, and my big thing is facing all this c***p, I cannot tell you something I have not done.
Because why? You start to formulate this character, this code of ethic, this ethos that you live. Not anybody else, just your own. I cannot tell you something that I’ve not done. Why? Because it will haunt me.
You are now drinking the ‘Koolaid’ – a lot of people are writing books about self-help, mental toughness, all this c**p. Half of them are living up to that standard. You have to be able to practice what you preach. It has to be what you are.
That’s why people say to me, “When you speak about all this stuff, it’s so passionate!” Because you’re making me relive my life. It’s not a comfortable life. This life was made! This life was earned. And if people like it, great. If not, so be it. At night time I think about nothing.
Lewis Howes: When you’re stretching?
David Goggins: When I’m stretching. That’s my time. To sit back and recharge for tomorrow. Because why? Mental toughness is not a class. We had this class that they designed. Self talk, visualisation, arousal control, it’s all great. It has to be a lifestyle.
You work on mental callousing on a daily basis, because you know, your brain isn’t a muscle so much, you will lose it, you will lose the ability to suffer the worst of times, if you come out of it for too long. If you can lose 315lbs and you stop going to the gym for a month, I guarantee you won’t be able to pick the same weight up again.
All the stories I talked about today, all the things in that book, if I went and said, “I’m good,” I gained all this knowledge, if I stop today, the knowledge is gone. I have to go back deep to retrieve it. I don’t want to go back deep to retrieve it. I want to be able to call on it now. That’s why I do these things. I know what not doing them will get me.
Lewis Howes: Right, right. There’s so much more I want to ask you, but I want to try to wrap it up here, with three final questions. I didn’t even get to any of the questions I had on here, but I’m just so inspired by everything.
But if you guys haven’t picked this up yet, you can pre-order it right now. Again, ‘Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind And Defy The Odds.’ Make sure you guys get this book get a few copies for friends, give them out as gifts. This will be one of the most powerful things you can give to someone.
I’m curious about – I asked you about the greatest lesson form your mom, but I’m curious what’s the greatest lesson your dad taught you, whether he actually said it, or you observed it.
David Goggins: I observed it.
Lewis Howes: Or what not to do, or yeah.
David Goggins: So I observed it from my dad. When I left I was young, I had a young kid’s point of view on my father. So, when I was twenty-two at 300lbs, I went back to see my dad. Because I wanted to make sure that what I saw at eight, is the same vision, because it’s my father.
I don’t want to not talk to my father, no matter what he did, no matter what I saw, but was it through a young kid’s eyes? So, at twenty-two I went back, and I was able to examine him as a man, as a fragile man that I was, but I was able to examine him and through this process – and by this point in my life, I was examining myself and realising I have a whole mess of problems, big time.
Some were from him, some were from people that bullied me, a lot were from me. And in knowing how messed up I was, I was able to examine everybody around me. I examined him. And I examined him to know, “The insecurities that you must have, the problems that you must have inside of you, I don’t want to have those.”
I come from my father. I have what he has. And I didn’t want to be him. Why he made fun of me, why he beat the hell out of me and my brother and my mom. It comes from a dark place, an insecure, dark, dark place. Why he womanised, why he sold prostitutes, why he ran prostitutes. All the things he did.
A good human being doesn’t need to do that. A fulfilled human being doesn’t need to break anyone down. All they do is want to build you up. So anybody you meet that calls you a name, that bullies you, that messes you up, that makes you feel not lifted, they are dealing with something deep rooted.
Yeah, you have to have a tough tone with some people to help them out. There’s a difference. You have to be hard. I’m hard on people, but it comes from a good place. The biggest lesson he taught me was how not to be. And that’s why I had to fix what I was. Because insecurities make everybody around you feel like hell.
And that’s the one thing I did not want anyone to feel like. That’s why I judge no one. Tons of whites have called me ‘nigger’, tons of people have hurt me, I judged no one, because I know where it comes from. I know you. I was once you. That’s why, now, the place I’m at, you get a ‘get out of jail free’ card, you need to help yourself.
You ain’t bullying me, man! I’m good, I’m good.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, you’re fine. Whatever they throw at you…
David Goggins: I know what’s wrong with you, because I was once you. So, I started to examine people, examine myself, examine my darkness, realising how I cannot be. But I got it from examining him and saying, “I cannot be that.”
Lewis Howes: That’s a powerful lesson, and it’s the greatest lesson that he taught you, through that observance.
David Goggins: Yes.
Lewis Howes: How do you react or respond when someone says something to you, negative, or cuts you off in a car, or, something happens in life every day, that could potentially upset you? Do you react? Do you respond? Do you do nothing? Do you give them a hug? I mean, what is the process for you now?
David Goggins: The process used to be, angry David Goggins…
Lewis Howes: Scream at them, swear at them, pick a fight, yeah.
David Goggins: Yeah, that was the old me. The old me would pick a fight, go do whatever. Through this process of my life, when you get to this point I’m at, at yeah, I’ll still be in the car and I’ll talk to my fiancé, “This jackass!” or whatever, I now know that I can escalate a problem that’s not really a problem. I now know, I have a throttle, and that’s through self-examination.
“Is this a big deal? Is this something I need to approach with a level three engagement of, like, we’re going at it? Or is this a level two engagement?” So now, you have to be mature enough, and I’m really big on maturity, because I was never mature for so many years.
With age and knowledge, you have to bring in maturity. Age doesn’t mean you’re mature. It’s going back in and saying, “Okay, look, I’m at a point in my life, what is smart? If I do this, I can see the future. I can see that if I do this, this is going to happen. I’m going to escalate this problem. Is this warranted?”
There are some things that warrant me to escalate a problem, and that’s what I do now. I take it through a process…
Lewis Howes: Rate it, yeah.
David Goggins: Yes. It goes in the rating program.
Lewis Howes: Got it! Powerful! This is called, ‘The Three Truths’. I ask this question to everyone at the end, it’s called ‘The Three Truths’. Imagine it is your last day, and you get to pick the day, whenever you want. You get to live as long as you want, you pick the day, but it’s time for you body to go, right?
You’ve created everything you want to create. You’ve been at 99 percentile of potential for as long as you can live, you’ve done it all, you’ve checked off all the lists and everything that God says you were supposed to do, it’s happened. Written the books, whatever you wanted to do: done.
But, for whatever reason, you’ve got to take all of your written word and videos and audio stuff that’s out in the world, and you’ve got to take it with you. But you get to write down, on a piece of paper, the three things you know to be true about all of your experiences, and this is what you would leave behind.
The three lessons, or what I like to call The Three Truths. What would you say are your Three Truths?
David Goggins: The first one is, you are your own hero, you are your own leader, you are your own master. And that is a big one, because we idolise so many people and we want to be them. We want to be someone else. And, in doing that, you lose all the potential of who you are.
You mimic, you be them, you are them, you become them, and you lose you. And we look up to so many people in this world who will let us down. We’re humans. I’m going to let you down, you’re going to let somebody down, and you put them on a pedestal, you then lose time when that person comes up and lets you down.
You must hold yourself accountable, and being your own hero, that’s what that does. You make yourself so totally accountable for who you are. You focus on you and only on you to become the best person you can be for others.
Because we leave a lot on the table, not searching who we are, and then, therefore, you die not knowing your greatest potential.
That’s one. The next one I would say is, the biggest one, I would say is, never pick the easy road. Never. And it always goes back to the hero mentality. Never pick the easy road ever in your life. That is the one road that is doom. It is doom. If you want something, like ‘six minute abs’, all these different things that people want it so fast.
You may achieve what you wanted, but you want the permanent fix. The permanent fix comes from the hard road. The hard road gives you permanent results. The easy road, gives you the quick fix. You will go back to where you started on the easy route. That hard route is so permanent that it ends up callousing you everywhere. Everywhere!
Lewis Howes: You keep a six pack forever.
David Goggins: You keep it! Because you know the work that goes into it. And the last one is, when you get to where you want to go in life, when you finally get there, you finally reach that point, and you’re there, and you’re happy as hell, realise this: You’re not there yet.
When you get that feeling that you arrived, be afraid. Be truly afraid. Because now you start to do this.
Lewis Howes: Slowly die.
David Goggins: Slowly die. Either you’re getting better, or you’re getting worse, you’re not staying the same. So, when you get to where you think the journey’s ended, and you’re sitting back, and you’re like, “I arrived! I’m on Mt Everest! I climbed 29029,” the best thing to do is fall back down that damn mountain as fast as you can, and start climbing.
Lewis Howes: Find the next climb.
David Goggins: Find the next climb.
Lewis Howes: Ah, man, I think I must sign up for another event. Sign up for another endurance event.
David Goggins: That’s it! That’s it!
Lewis Howes: Where can we connect with you online? Where do you like to, when you spend five minutes a month, where is that space?
David Goggins: My social media will either be Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, it’s all just David Goggin, @davidgoggins.
Lewis Howes: Cool, @davidgoggins. Your videos on Instagram are great, you should post more, or have someone on your team post more, because they’re awesome.
David Goggins: Great, well, they’re all me. I have no team. It’s me and my fiancé, there is no team. She’ll be in the car, she’ll be on a mountaintop, she’ll be somewhere, it’s all my material, it’s all who I am, that’s why I post once a week.
Lewis Howes: Once a week right now?
David Goggins: Once a week, every Monday, you’ll get a post.
Lewis Howes: There you go, there’s be some video that’s going to inspire you that you’ll be like, “I need to do at least five more minutes of working out, something at least.”
David Goggins: That’s it.
Lewis Howes: Well, I want to acknowledge you, David, for your intensity, your work ethic, your passion, and also, your pure, real heart. Because, just meeting you for the first time, walking in together I could tell how real you are, and you’re just a ‘no BS’ type of guy.
The adversity that you’ve overcome is crazy. Obviously people have overcome more than you, me and lots of people in the world, but what you’ve had to overcome, physically and psychologically and emotionally, is unbelievable. And to see that you weren’t a statistic – instead, you chose, every single day, to make a decision to be more than that – is really inspiring.
And I know that this is going to impact and inspire a lot of people so I acknowledge you for your heart and for inspiring me. I thought I worked out hard, but this is like, I feel like I’m doing nothing with my life, so, you’re going to inspire me to continue to make bigger commitments and longer commitments moving forward now.
David Goggins: Thank you.
Lewis Howes: So I appreciate everything you do, man, and I’m excited about getting this out there. You’re welcome.
My final question is: What’s your definition of greatness?
David Goggins: My definition of greatness is this – it’s not a definition, it’s an example – this is greatness, true greatness: Let’s say that I’m the greatest tennis player of all time. Let’s say that. I hate tennis. Let’s say I’m the greatest tennis player of all time, and I did twenty-two years, I’ve won all the Grand Slams, I beat Roger Federer, I am the best ever.
And we’re having an interview, and you’re talking about my greatness, what I achieved, and I’m retired, don’t play tennis any more, haven’t touched a racquet in years. And you’re making me go back through my life, you’re kissing my butt about how great I am, and I’m answering your questions, every question, I’m answering it. I’m with you.
But in the back of my mind, all I’m thinking about is all the times I could have won those matches that I lost by not bringing my best mindset. You’re haunted by all the opportunities that you missed by not bringing your best at that time, when you could have won, but you didn’t win, because you allowed life to interfere with that one shot.
When you were sitting there, getting ready to serve for the match and your mind is not thinking about where that ball placement is meant to be, but it’s thinking about your family this, or this at work, or that at work.
That’s greatness. Greatness is your recall on every single shot that you missed throughout a twenty-something year career. Every shot, you can go back and say, “I was here, this person was in a red shirt there.” Greatness is being so aware of the time of life in the second that went by and you can recall it like it was yesterday.
Greatness is being able to go back there, not making that same mistake again, and being haunted by it. That is greatness.
Lewis Howes: David Goggins. Thanks, man! Appreciate you, man!
David Goggins: Appreciate it, thank you.
Lewis Howes: There you have it, my friends! Gosh! I got so fired up after this interview! I was talking with David for about thirty minutes afterwards, just saying, “Man, I thought I pushed myself!”
You know, I’m the Greatness Guy, I’m constantly elevating my life, my mindset, my practices, my habits, my work ethic. I just climbed to freaking 29,000ft, twenty-two miles in the sky! The equivalent of Mt Everest! I thought I was pushing myself! That was 33 hours, non-stop, going after this challenge of climbing, and hiking this mountain.
I thought I pushed myself, and I realise this guy does ultra-ultra-marathons, 205 mile races, I’ve done nothing! I can barely run five miles without sweating, and I’m thinking to myself there’s got to be a way that I can even push myself farther. And I know that you can push yourself farther as well. No matter where you’re at.
I’m not saying you’ve got to run marathons, and do a 1,000 pull-ups a day, I’m not saying that, but there’s somewhere in your life, right now, I feel it, I literally feel inside of your heart, I can see inside of your soul right now, that something is burning inside of you, and you know, deep down that you’re not doing everything you can to give it all you’ve got in your life right now.
I can frickin’ feel your heart, and if you’re listening to this right now, that means there’s more available for you in your life. There is so much more available for you and you haven’t even scratched the surface yet. It’s time to step up! Make a commitment to yourself.
Give yourself thirty frickin’ days to do something challenging and painful and hard that you don’t want to do. It’s only going to make you grow. It’s only going to support every aspect of your life at the highest level. Do the thing that sucks. Do the thing you don’t want to do and you will be so much happier through the entire process.
It’s going to bring you a level of confidence, a level of poise, a level of discipline, an level of belief in yourself that you’ve never had before. Do the thing you don’t want to do. Just give yourself a 30-day challenge and do it every single day.
Message me right now! I want to know what is that thing, because I want to call you out. I want to make sure you actually do this thing. Hold yourself accountable by letting me know. Take a screenshot of this, tag me on Instagram and put it on the screenshot on your Instagram story, of what is the thing you’re going to do.
Let your friends know, let your family know, hold yourself accountable. You were born for more! You’re made for more! You’re here for a reason, and now is the time to step up, but you can’t keep playing small, you can’t keep playing average, you can’t keep playing soft in your life.
It’s time to master you mind and defy the odds! Let’s fricking do this! I’ve got your back and I believe in you, because you’re here for a reason and now is the time. If you enjoyed this, guys, make sure to text a friend right now and say, “You must listen to this now! Listen to it today and tell me what you thought of this.”
Text them the link, lewishowes.com/715 and tell them, “Let’s frickin’ do this life together on a whole other level!” Find an accountability buddy, let’s do this thing! Gosh! I’m so frickin’ fired up right now, you have no idea! Send them the link, watch the video, on the show notes, get the book by David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind, Defy The Odds.
Again, all of it is linked up at the show notes, lewishowes.com/715, tag @davidgoggins as well, on Instagram, let him know that you’re connecting with him and that you loved this message. Let’s spread this out to the world.
When you spread this message you’re helping other people as well. This is a movement of greatness and we’re all in this together.
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Gosh, I love you guys! You have no idea how much I love you. I always love meeting people on the streets who come up to me and say hi and say how much the podcast has impacted you in our life. So thank you to everyone who comes up to me and says hi and gives me a hug and a high five and tells me their story about the podcast and how it’s resonated for you. It means a lot to me.
We had a big old party at The Summit of Greatness, so if you haven’t got your tickets yet, we’ve already sold close to 50% of tickets, sold out already. Go to summitofgreatness.com right now, and watch our videos form a few weeks ago.
I want to see you guys there! Get your tickets now, early bird discount, sign up at summitofgreatness.com, and as the great Marcus Aurelius said, “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realise this and you will find strength.”
As always, I love you so very much! You know what time it is: It’s time to go out there and do something great!