In this post, we will tell you the summary of Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. David Goggins is one of the toughest people in the world. He’s the only man to successfully complete, not only SEAL training but the U.S. Army Ranger School and the Air Force Tactical Air Controller Training. He served in Iraq, ran 205 miles without stopping, and beat the Guinness World Record for most pull-ups in 24 hours with 4,030 pull-ups.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. He’s definitely not an average person. But what makes his accomplishments even more significant is that he had an absolute, terrible upbringing, to say the least. He was abused both physically and mentally. But instead of accepting his condition, he used the suffering as a stepping stone to achieving greatness. If he could do everything that he did by starting so far in the negative, imagine what someone who didn’t suffer as much could do with the help of his teachings. Let’s dig into Goggins’ 10 lessons.
face your bad hand
Goggins’ childhood was more brutal than most people. From being a victim of mental and physical abuse by his own father to living in absolute poverty with his mother once they escaped. After so many years exposed to such violence and pain, he was diagnosed with toxic stress, leading to learning disabilities and total social anxiety. He was what society labeled as an at-risk kid. What about you? What are the factors that are limiting your success? Were you bullied? Did you feel insecure? Maybe you didn’t have the support you needed. Or perhaps you had too much support to the point that you never took the initiative.
Everyone was dealt some sort of a bad hand. What’s yours? Goggins says to write it down on a piece of paper or on your computer. “Give that pain shape. Absorb its power because you’re going to flip that shit”, Goggins tells us. The first step to change your circumstances is to recognize your bad hand. While you’re at it, smash that like button and give a like to this video.
set up your accountability mirror
Did you ever think your dreams were impossible to achieve? Goggins did. He had the dream of joining the Air Force, but when he looked in the mirror all he could see was a boy with no physical and mental capacity. But then again, instead of accepting his condition, he decided to use the mirror as a device to hold himself accountable. Every night, he wrote down the goal for the next day on a sticky note and placed it in his mirror. The following day, he will put in the work to achieve those goals.
For you, it’s about time to face your reality. Grab some Post-its and write down what you see in the mirror. What are your goals? What are your limitations? Be 100% honest. “Whatever your goal”, Goggins tells us, “you need to hold yourself accountable for the small steps it will take to get there”.
get used to discomfort
One morning, Goggins turn on the TV in the background and heard a strong voice coming from it. All he caught was, “Navy SEALs, toughest … the world”. He stopped and he watched. The longer he watched those brave men, the more he wanted to be like them. The SEALs were everything he was not. So he decided to put in the work, and in only three months, he lost 106 pounds and was ready for all the tests needed. It was extremely hard, but when you repeat the same task infinite times, your body gets calloused.
The same applies to your mind. The first step on the journey towards a calloused mind is stepping out of your comfort zone on a regular basis. So go back to your journal and write out all the things that make you uncomfortable, especially those things that you know are good for you. Now go do one of them, and do it again, and do it again until your mind is calloused. Get used to discomfort.
Hell Week is the hardest part of Navy SEAL training. Two-thirds of the recruits quit, and Goggins wasn’t going to be one of them. He was ready to face any challenge and he wanted to show the instructors that he was willing to go the extra mile. What about you? Perhaps your coach doesn’t give you enough time in the games. Or maybe your boss doesn’t give you the promotion you deserve. Use their attitude towards you as an inspiration. Goggins calls it, taking souls.
The idea is to take their negativity and use it to absolutely dominate the task. Your coach, make them notice you by being the best player in the team during practice. And for your boss, work around the clock if you have to. Get to work before them, leave after they go home, and show them the best work they have ever seen. The best way to turn the tables and earn someone’s respect is to be excellent.
As part of SEAL training, the recruits need to run 60 miles per week, which is extremely hard. But Goggins had to do it with an injured knee. So how did he do that? He started visualizing all the challenges he would face, all the swimming, the paddling, the carrying heavy bolts and logs on his head. Then he visualized his success and what it would feel like to make it to the end as a winner. He still felt the pain but painting the picture of what success will look like gave him the energy to succeed.
You cannot predict every obstacle, but if you engage in strategic visualization, as he calls it, ahead of time, you’ll be as prepared as you possibly can. This includes asking yourself simple questions like, “What has calloused my mind before? What can I do to make my experience better?” This will help you, what the author calls an armored mind, “A mindset so calloused that it became bulletproof”.
stock your cookie jar
Nowadays, many people love running, but how many people in the world can run 205 five miles nonstop? Well, the author did it. To complete such a challenge, you need more than just outstanding physical capacity. Imagine a moment when you’re halfway through the race, your body’s absolutely destroyed but you still have another 100 miles to go, how do you face it?
Goggins developed a concept that helped him overcome some challenges. He calls it the cookie jar. The cookie jar is a reminder of all the challenges you have overcome in the past. So, stock your cookie jar as much as you can. Get your journal out again and take an inventory of all your previous victories. Whenever you find yourself broken and with another 100 miles to go, you will find the strength to succeed in your own mental cookie jar.
dismantle your governor
Goggins believes that most human beings are only living at 40% of their capabilities. When you face a challenge, the governor in your mind wants to protect you from suffering, which stops you from going 100%. So how do you dismantle that governor? It’s rather simple. Say you usually run 10 miles and you’re absolutely destroyed after that, run 11 tomorrow. If the most pushups you ever did were 100, next time you go for 110. Adding that extra 5 or 10% every week will allow you to improve while avoiding any injuries.
compartmentalize your time
High achievement does not require inborn talent; it requires hard work. Many people are willing to put in the work but claim they don’t have the time. But the reality is you have enough time to do everything. It is absolutely unreal how much time most people waste in just one day, whether it’s on social networks, playing video games, or trying to multitask. Goggins has a three-week challenge to help you make the most of your time.
During the first week, go about your regular schedule, but take notes. When do you work? When do you sleep? When do you check Facebook? Document every single activity and how much time it takes you. In the second week, lock everything into place in 15 to 30-minute blocks. Some tasks will take multiple blocks. When you complete one task, move to the next one with the same focus. Keep taking notes as you will still find ways to optimize your schedule. By week three, you should have a schedule that absolutely maximizes your time.
uncommon amongst uncommon
This is for those who are already on top of their game. The ones who have achieved their goals and now are just sitting on top of the mountain. Don’t settle. Use your past successes as a trampoline, not as an armchair. If you’re a shark among sharks, dare to be different and go a step further. Just like Goggins did when, as a Navy SEAL, he decided to study weaponry and war because he wanted to make himself better. You have to keep putting obstacles in front of yourself to stand out. So what are you going to do differently?
the empowerment of failure
According to Goggins, failure is one of the best feelings in the world. And if you’re not failing, that means you have set your goals to pass, which means you’re not setting your goals high enough. Many people know that Goggins beat the Guinness World Record for most pull-ups. What some people don’t know is that he had two failed attempts before he succeeded. So it’s time for you to work with your failures. Grab your journal and start writing. Write what actually went okay with your failures. It’s never all bad. Then write, how did you deal with the failure? Did it affect your relationship? Did you manage to sleep at night? Then analyze your preparation, did you do everything you could? Now go back and make a list of everything you can fix so you can attempt your task again.
The bottom line
Now you know, what did it take for Goggins to go from a vulnerable kid to the superhuman that he became. There were no magic pills and there were no shortcuts. It took hard work and perseverance. If you follow his lessons, you can surpass absolutely any challenge in your own life.
We’re going to end the summary with the most powerful quote from the book, “I don’t stop when I’m tired. I stop when I’m done”.
So this was the summary of Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. I hope you enjoyed our post. For more articles, visit our website.
Note: Must read Summary and Review of Atomic Habits by James Clear