Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds
by David Goggins
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*Important note: this book summary contains explicit language which may be inappropriate for some readers.
Navy SEAL. Army Ranger. Ultra-marathon runner. Ultra-distance cyclist. Triathlete. Motivational speaker. Guinness World Record holder for having completed 4,030 pull-ups within a 17-hour period of time… Each of these accomplishments are part of one man’s life-journey. His name is David Goggins, and he’s the author of Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds.
In this incredibly inspiring autobiographical self-help book, David shares his journey of transformation, including how he went from being a 297-pound exterminator to one of the toughest men on the planet.
The man has managed to overcome unimaginable pain and tragedy in life—and still found a way to conquer his challenges and accomplish his goals. And in Can’t Hurt Me, he combines his life story with a series of strategies to help you master your mind, defy the odds, and accomplish your own goals.
Here’s what you’ll learn about in this book summary
- The keys to developing mental toughness
- How to hold yourself accountable to achieve your goals
- How to condition yourself to push past pain and adversity to accomplish your highest ambitions.
- and much, much more…
By regularly and intentionally seeking difficulty and discomfort in your life, and by demanding more from yourself—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—you can achieve the extraordinary and make what you previously thought impossible, possible. —click-to-tweet
“Our culture has become hooked on the quick-fix, the life hack, efficiency. Everyone is on the hunt for that simple action algorithm that nets maximum profit with the least amount of effort. There’s no denying this attitude may get you some of the trappings of success, if you’re lucky, but it will not lead to a calloused mind or self-mastery. If you want to master the mind and remove your governor, you’ll have to become addicted to hard work. Because passion and obsession, even talent, are only useful tools if you have the work ethic to back them up.” —David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me
“You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft, that you will die without ever realizing your true potential.” —David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me
“It’s a lot more than mind over matter. It takes relentless self discipline to schedule suffering into your day, every day.” —David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me
Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins | Book Summary
- THE ACCOUNTABILITY MIRROR
- THE 40% RULE
- WHAT IF?
- BRING YOUR BEST WHEN YOU FEEL YOUR WORST
- CALLOUS YOUR MIND
- SEEDS BURST FROM THE INSIDE OUT
1. THE ACCOUNTABILITY MIRROR
“Tell the truth about the real reasons for your limitations and you will turn that negativity, which is real, into jet fuel. Those odds stacked against you will become a damn runway. There is no more time to waste. Hours and days evaporate like creeks in the desert. That’s why it’s okay to be cruel to yourself as long as you realize you’re doing it to become better. We all need thicker skin to improve in life. Being soft when you look in the mirror isn’t going to inspire the wholesale changes we need to shift our present and open up our future …. the only reason I didn’t become just another statistic is because, at the last possible moment, I got to work.” —David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me
The aforementioned crucial quote is about Goggins’ first experience with what he calls the “Accountability Mirror,” which is a reality-based ritual he started during a point in his life when nothing seemed like it was going his way.
Here’s how the Accountability Mirror works: Goggins would stand in front of his bathroom mirror and get real with himself about where he was and where he wanted to be. He’d yell at himself, call himself names, and have full-on conversations with himself about the type of person he needed to become in order to achieve his goals.
After his first experience with the Accountability Mirror, Goggins began to put the pieces of his life together…
He stopped caring about what all the “cool” kids in school thought about him. He stopped sagging his pants and started tucking his shirt in. He stopped slacking off and got his grades up. He wrote down his goals on Post-It notes and put them on his mirror. Each day, he’d stand in front of his mirror and his goals and hold himself accountable.
He maintained this habit of holding himself accountable into adulthood and attributes it as one of the contributors to his mental toughness and success.
Bottom line? The Accountability Mirror is something you’ll find helpful no matter what stage of life you’re in.
1. Start your own daily ritual of standing in front of the Accountability Mirror. Look into it on a daily basis and tell yourself the truth about where you are and where you want to be.
2. Write down your goals on Post-It notes and tag them to your Accountability Mirror. Hold yourself accountable to your goals on a daily basis.
One last (f-bomb laden) quote on this Big Idea before we move on:
“If you look into the mirror and you see a fat person, don’t tell yourself that you need to lose a couple of pounds. Tell the truth. You’re fucking fat! It’s okay. Just say you’re fat if you’re fat. The dirty mirror that you see every day is going to tell you the truth every time, so why are you still lying to yourself? So you can feel better for a few minutes and stay the fucking same? If you’re fat you need to change the fact that you’re fat because it’s very fucking unhealthy. I know because I’ve been there.”
THAT’S an example of getting real with yourself in front of the Accountability Mirror… What do you see when you stand in front of yours?
2. THE 40% RULE
“When you think that you are done, you’re only 40% in to what your body’s capable of doing. That’s just the limits that we put on ourselves.” —David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me
Imagine a car that goes as fast as 180 MPH. This car is equipped with an internal mechanism that alerts you when you’re going faster than usual. Let’s say you’re approaching 100 MPH. What happens? The steering wheel begins to tremble, letting you know you’re starting to push the car’s acceleration a little too hard. But you think, “Wait, can’t the car go 180? I want to push this car to the max! Why do I feel like I need to slow down?”
Human beings are the same way…
We don’t always need to push ourselves to the max, but at certain times and with certain endeavors, we do. And just like the car we’re driving, we have an internal “Governor” that tells us to stop way before we’ve reached our max.
Most of us tap into only 40% of what we’re truly capable of. When you feel like giving up, when it feels like you’re too exhausted to keep going—you’re usually just 40% there, which means your mind wants you to stop, even though you’ve got plenty of juice left in the tank! You’re capable of more than you think. Knowing this truth is the first step to becoming unstoppable and achieving the impossible.
Next time you feel like giving up on something, remember the 40% Rule: when you feel like giving up, you’re only at 40% capacity, which means your fuel tank is still 60% full.
– To start living your life at full capacity, embrace the “discomfort zone” by pushing past your comfort zone incrementally, bit by bit. For example: if you feel like giving up after 10 pushups, push yourself to do 5 more. And next time, push yourself to do 6 more, and so on.
– You’re capable of more than you think. Use the 40% Rule to remind yourself of that. Work hard and stretch yourself just a little bit outside your comfort zone—bit by bit on a daily basis—and you’ll keep establishing those tiny points of progress as your new baselines. Bit by bit. Each and every day… Before you know it, all those things you previously believed were impossible, are now not just possible, but normal.
“The main objective here is to slowly start to remove the governor from your brain. First, a quick reminder of how this process works. In 1999, when I weighed 297 pounds, my first run was a quarter-mile. Fast forward to 2007, I ran 205 miles in thirty-nine hours, nonstop. I didn’t get there overnight, and I don’t expect you to either. Your job is to push past your normal stopping point …. Whether you are running on a treadmill or doing a set of push-ups, get to the point where you are so tired and in pain that your mind is begging you to stop. Then push past 5 to 10 percent further. If the most push-ups you have ever done is one hundred in a workout, do 105 or 110. If you normally run thirty miles each week, run 10 percent more. The bottom line is that life is one big mind game. The only person you are playing against is yourself. Stick with this process and soon what you thought was impossible will be something you do every fucking day.” —David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me
3. WHAT IF?
“The most important conversations you’ll ever have are the ones you’ll have with yourself. You wake up with them, you walk around with them, you go to bed with them, and eventually you act on them. Whether they be good or bad. We are all our own worst haters and doubters because self-doubt is a natural reaction to any bold attempt to change your life for the better. You can’t stop it from blooming in your brain, but you can neutralize it, and all the other external chatter by asking, What if?” —David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me
WHAT IF you worked harder to achieve your dreams?
WHAT IF you pushed past your comfort zone next time you feel like giving up?
WHAT IF you let go of all the reasons why you can’t do something, and replaced them with all the reasons why you can?
How much would it change your life? How much of a difference could you make?
And what if you decided to start… right now?
- Next time you’re inspired to do something, but feel that sense of self-doubt start kicking in, stop yourself and ask:
- “What if I did _____?” Fill in the blank with what you want to do.
- Then, think about this: What would a successful outcome look like? And finally, follow it up with action.
4. BRING YOUR BEST WHEN YOU FEEL YOUR WORST
“Once you’re in the heat of battle, it comes down to staying power. If it’s a difficult physical challenge you will probably have to defeat your own demons before you can take your opponent’s soul. That means rehearsing answers to the simple question that is sure to rise up like a thought bubble:
‘Why am I here?’ If you know that moment is coming and have your answer ready, you will be equipped to make the split-second decision to ignore your weakened mind and keep moving. Know why you’re in the fight to stay in the fight!
And never forget that all emotional and physical anguish is finite! It all ends eventually. Smile at pain and watch it fade for at least a second or two. If you can do that, you can string those seconds together and last longer than your opponent thinks you can, and that may be enough to catch a second wind. There is no scientific consensus on second wind. Some scientists think it’s the result of endorphins flooding your nervous system, others think it’s a burst of oxygen that can help break down lactic acid, as well as the glycogen and triglycerides muscles need to perform. Some say it’s purely psychological.
All I know is that by going hard when we felt defeated we were able to ride a second wind through the worst night of Hell Week. And once you have that second wind behind you it’s easy to break your opponents down and snatch a soul. The hard part is getting to that point, because the ticket to victory often comes down to bringing your very best when you feel your worst.” —David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me