David Goggins is a former Navy Seal and ultra endurance athlete. He is the only member of the U.S. Armed forces to complete Navy Seal training, U.S. Army Ranger School, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. After several of his friends died in a helicopter accident in Afghanistan he started competing in ultra marathons to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which gives college scholarships and grants to the children of fallen special operations soldiers.
I learned about Goggins a few years ago when I read Rich Roll’s book, Finding Ultra. I always found him to be quite fascinating, as he has physically accomplished some things that shouldn’t be humanly possible. He completed the Bad Water-135 Ultra Marathon after only a few months of training, and having not done much running prior to then. When I came across a podcast episode of Rich Roll interviewing him, I knew I had to listen and learn more about him.
I’ve compiled a list of my 12 takeaways from the interview. This guy is such an inspiration and I hope you find something in this list that inspires you.
1. Before tackling a big goal, handle your insecurities first
If we have a goal that is aligned with our purpose then we have to check our ego. Ego will only get in the way and force us to quit as soon as things get tough.
2. You can endure more than you think is possible
We often quit things too early. The brain is resistant to discomfort. It wants us to take it easy and coast through life. In reality though, our mind and body are capable of so much more. If we can get a handle on our thoughts and push through when things get tough, on the other side is often something better than we could have ever imagined.
3. Getting better is about recognizing perceived limitations and moving past them
Sometimes we have to look inside ourselves and challenge what we believe to be true about ourselves. We create stories about what we can and cannot do. When in reality, it’s just a story. We can do so much more. We just have to remove those barriers that we inadvertently created to hold ourselves back.
3. Motivation is crap
“Beyond motivated” is a tag line that Goggins uses on his social media platforms. It takes more than motivation to be successful. In many cases, motivation goes away as soon as you reach the first sign of adversity. It takes drive and purpose to keep going in the face of obstacles.
4. You have to get into a quiet space in your mind
The little voice in our head can get us into trouble and often times hold us back. We let the thoughts in our head run rampant and before we realize it we’re stuck and running around in circles instead of moving forward. We have to get the noise out of our head and listen to our internal voice instead of reacting mindlessly to the circumstances presented to us.
5. You can do anything if you have the right mindset
David Goggins has sickle cell and yet he still competes in ultra marathons and has completed physical feats that no “healthy” human should be able to accomplish. A quote from Goggins that perfectly fits this state of mind is “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.” This belief from Goggins isn’t meant to encourage us to drive ourselves into the ground, but rather, understand that we are capable of achieving so much more than we think is possible.
6. Accountability starts with the person in the mirror
Goggins practices this exercise called the “accountability mirror”. This involves getting to the source of who you are by staring at yourself in the mirror. It’s only when we can be honest with ourselves and how we’re actually showing up in the world that we can enable ourselves to do great things in our lives. If we’re not living a life that’s true to our values, then we have to own up to that. If we show up one way to other people, but another way when we’re alone, we have to own up to that as well. We have to fix our issues and align our attitude and behavior with our values and who we truly aspire to be.
7. You have to want something bad enough to fail 100 times to get it
We have different ambitions and goals we say we want to accomplish. But do we want them bad enough to fail 100 times to get them? It took 3 attempts for Goggins to become a Navy Seal. To qualify to enter the Bad Water ultra marathon, he had to complete two 100-mile races in 2 months time with hardly any training. At the time, he was a novice to running.
8. Failure is just a word
We give failure too much credit and need to change the way we look at it. Depending on where you are in life, you either look at failure as something to avoid or you view it as a way to success. Goggins describes failure as “a way to discover what’s needed to succeed.”
9. Change the way you are thinking and connect with who you are
Very few people change the way they think. Many of us spend too much time overthinking instead of taking action. We waste far too much time trying to figure out how to start instead of actually beginning the journey.
10. Stop asking questions and get started
We don’t have to have every detail figured out before taking action. Instead of asking questions and delaying the journey even further, just start. If you want something bad enough, you’ll figure out how to make it happen. You’ll learn what you need to learn along the way and make the necessary adjustments.
11. Live outside of your comfort zone
We’re all here to start a journey. And that journey is going to be really challenging, if we choose our real journey. Most of us take the journey with the least resistance. We have to embrace the discomfort and discover who we really are.
12. Stretching the body can be healing
David Goggins had to take a break from competing because of some major health issues he was dealing with. He attributes his recovery to stretching for hours at a time. He learned that the more he stretched the quicker he was recovering. He started out stretching for 8 hours a day. After a while he reduced it 4 hours and now he stretches for 2 hours a day. Now that he is recovered and competing again, he noticed that stretching so much has led to him having more flexibility in his hips, which has led to him being able to knock 1 minute off of his already impressive running pace. He was able to complete a 50-mile ultra marathon with a 7:30 minute per mile pace. Hearing this definitely inspired me to want to take more time to stretch my own body each day.
The interview was one of the most inspiring interviews I’ve heard in a while. I am usually a passive listener and like to catch little nuggets of information that maybe I can apply to my own life. For this interview, I listened attentively. I took notes and had to pause the recording multiple times. I encourage you to listen to the interview for yourself. The passion in David Goggins’s voice is moving.