If I were to name one person who’s had the most impact on my mindset over the past few years, it’d be David Goggins. I first heard of him while reading Living with a SEAL. Actually, he’s not named in the book, but I did some Google searches after reading it and found out who this man was. Since then, I’ve been obsessed. I’ve tried to listen to every podcast he’s been on and any interview he’s done. His passion seeps through the airwaves.
Why? What is it about Goggins that is so inspiring? I think there are a few reasons. One, he’s pushed himself to places I’ve never even realized were possible (three Navy SEAL hell weeks, 60+ ultra races of 50 miles or more, the world record for most pull-ups in 24 hours). Two, he pushes every day. There are no days off. And he’s not training for the next race or adventure. He says he’s training for life. Waking up at 4am to run is training his mind for the difficulties and tragedies of life. Pushing past perceived limits is callousing his mind so he can perform when performance is required. He lives by the mantra that we don’t rise to the level of our expectations but rather fall to the level of our training. So, he trains at a level above everyone else’s expectations.
He’s inspiring because we all know that voice in our heads. The one that tells us to slow down on a run. To not push hard up the hill. It’s the voice that says to watch a sitcom instead of read a book. It’s the voice that calms and soothes into complacency. We’ve grown accustomed to that voice and we like it. It provides comfort.
Goggins attacks that voice. Comfort and happiness are not the goal. Experience and growth are gained through pain and suffering, not through life hacks and productivity.
Goggins’ concept that has inspired me the most is the 40% rule. He says that whenever we think we are giving our all, we are only giving 40%.
Stop and think about that for a second. Think back to the hardest physical or mental situation you’ve been in. Did it feel like you still had 60% in your reserves? No way it did. You felt like you were giving as close to 100% as you could. But what Goggins has learned in pushing himself to extreme limits is that we are all much more capable than what we dream possible.
This simple concept has helped me reach new speeds in running I never thought possible. I’ve run nearly my entire life. From 2009 – 2016, I pretty much just went out and ran for fun throughout the year. I’d get good overall mileage in, but whenever that voice in my head told me to slow down, I obeyed.
In 2016, after reading Living with a SEAL (Goggins is the SEAL in the book), I started questioning that voice. And in the past year, I’ve started fighting that voice. I’m now running at speeds close to my high school times when I was running in cleats and with less weight. I never dreamed this would be possible. But the change happened in my mind. I didn’t all of a sudden become a better runner. I changed nutrition and some other things, but the main thing that changed was my mindset, and that was largely due to contemplating the 40% rule.
Goggins’ life is one filled with pain and sorrow. His father abused him as a child, he was mocked in middle school for his race, and he never really fit in with the SEAL teams either. He’s battled heart conditions, obesity (yes, he was once 297 lbs and lost 106 lbs in 3 months in order to try out for the SEALS), and sickle cell traits. But through all of this, he has overcome and accomplished things I would have never thought possible before reading about them. He says the battle is in the mind, not the body.
I think a better title and subtitle for this book would have been Training for Life: Becoming Uncommon Amongst Uncommon People.