David Goggins on Obsession, Controlling the Mind, Meeting God & Finding Your True Limits

Laura is writing....
Change Your Mind Change Your Life
6 min readAug 13, 2022
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

One of the world’s best ultra-endurance athletes, former Navy SEAL and record holder of the Guinness World Record for the most pull-ups done in 24 hours completing 4,030 in 17 hours, David Goggins is a force to reckon with. But alongside his athletic achievements, he also regularly offers a form of wisdom that very few people carry today; The wisdom of experience.

From pushing through pain, suffering and life’s difficulties, his inspiring words are often spoken in interviews. Yet, they hold more wisdom than they realize at first glance, and so I’ve compiled some of his most important lessons in this article, for readers to reflect and internalize.

All the following text is attributed to David Goggins through various interviews over the years. I have tidied up some sentences for comprehension and clearer understanding, in the hope that the messages from Goggins become clearer. However, all wisdom in the words are his.

On Obsession

If you want to be great, if you want to be the baddest ever at what you do, you are going to be misunderstood by everybody.

Because you are going to be so fucking obsessed and so driven to get there. That’s what it takes. It takes every second of your life.

If anybody says balance, yeah balance is important for a lot of people. It is. But if you go to that edge, where people do not like you, don’t understand you, question everything you do..….you’ve arrived.

On the Mind

Your brain is the most powerful weapon in the world.

Once you put away your phones, computers, and all that sh*t we have nowadays, your brain is the only thing you have when you are going through depression. When you’re going through hard times. When you are going through death. Real life sh*t.

You can’t Google that stuff man. You’re alone. You may have a shrink that you’re going to, you may have a best friend you’re talking to, but there’s 24 hours in every day where you are alone in this brain, and your brain is talking to you in all kind of ways, and it wants to control you and put you in different pockets.

If you can’t control your own brain, and your brain controls you, your f*cked.

You got to tell your brain where you want to go, and how you want to go, and how you want to get there.

You’ve got to control it. If not, it’s over.

On meeting God

I believe in a higher power. I don’t know the name, or where it’s coming from, nothing like that.

But I believe that this power, they have a chart of your life.

And when you are born, it says ‘David Goggins, born February 17th 1975 at 6am’. They write the chart down because they can see everything. They know where you are supposed to be.

You die and you go to the so-called heaven. I arrived in heaven, I’m 300 pounds, I’m retired as an eco-lab guy, it’s okay just a job, whatever. I go up there and God looks at me and he shows me my chart, and my chart on there says — you were supposed to be a Navy seal, you were supposed to weigh 185 pounds, you were supposed to be one of the smartest people on the planet.

You see this and now it’s too late. You are in heaven. You realize that ‘I was supposed to live that life. I was supposed to live that life’. And then you find out the reason why. We all think that we pray on things, and if we do this and do that whatever, things will work. But if you don’t work, and you think things will magically happen for us. No.

I believe that my job is to outwork the chart.

What ever the chart says about me, with the all knowing power up there, I wanna get up there, I want him to look at me and say, ‘wow, I know everything, but I didn’t fucking see this. I didn’t f*cking see this’. I want to feel that.

I want to get to the other end of this world and however I am being judged, whoever is judging me, I want them to say ‘I didn’t know. All this stuff, I was writing it as you were living it’. I want to find more.

So if there is an ending to this world, there is somewhere to go and there is a judgment, when you get there you might see a chart. That chart may tell you who the f*ck you should have been, and now you got the rest of your after life to think about that. ‘I could have lived a much better life, if I just would have suffered a little bit more. If I just would have gone into that sh*t and realized I had so much more. But fear and the 40% rule and living on the surface vs living deeper, being afraid stopped me’.

My job is to outwork the chart.

On going past 40%

I believe that most human beings are only living at 40% of their capability.

The mind has a governor like a car. If you are driving a car, and the car has a governor on it, the car might be able to go to 130 miles per hour, but the governor is set for 91. When you get to 91 it holds you back. The car wants to go, but that factory setting says, ‘we are not going past 91’. We all have a factory setting, a nice governor in our brain.

It’s a survival mechanism, it protects us from pain and suffering. The second we feel that, our mind says, ‘oh no this isn’t fun, we should back off, we should sit down, find something more comfortable’.

The mind has a tactical advantage over you, at all times.

It knows what you are afraid of, it knows your insecurities. It knows your deep dark lies, and it starts to push you away from that. It pushes you in a direction that is comfortable.

The mind controls everything.

When I was growing up and I got all fat and insecure, what I realized was that my mind kept taking me in different directions, that when things got uncomfortable for me, when I was facing insecurities and my fears, my mind said, ‘oh no, we have a tactical advantage, we need to separate you from this feeling, from this pain’.

Life is all about feelings. We want the happy feelings, we don’t want the feeling of ‘this sucks, why am I here?’ You can’t answer those questions so you leave. I started realizing that if in that moment you can answer those questions, then you are now in charge of your brain, vs your brain ruling you. That’s where all control comes from.

You get to 40% and your brain says ‘we’re done, let’s roll man, this is starting to get painful, this is uncomfortable’, and you sit down. It’s a habit.

But if you know that at 40% when you’re feeling pain, that’s when the 40% rule kicks in, that’s when my mind is saying i’m feeling pain, my minds saying get out of here, run, flee, the fight or flight kicks in, and you say, I’m done, we’re not good enough. Your mind starts telling you all these things, because the mind controls everything.

This is the time that you have to take control back from your mind, and you think ‘it’s okay, let me see if i can go to 45%’, and once you start giving yourself more and more hope, you start realizing that you are supposed to be going right and you are going left. You then start controlling your mind, start finding more in yourself. And you go from 40% to a lot further than that. And that is the start of it.

Get to the point where your mind is saying stop, wherever that is, that 40%. You got to get there first. And then that’s when you can start to get the mind to work for you. You get control of yourself from that moment.



Laura is writing....
Change Your Mind Change Your Life

Passionate about personal development, journalling, planning and goal setting. Founder of Giftofayear.com