Today we are bringing the number one most requested guest for my show for the last two years: David Goggins.
The first thing I’ve got to say about David Goggins before you continue reading is that he uses strong profanity, so anyone who may be offended should stay clear. But if you can handle it, then you’ve got to listen to this episode. David's story is one of the most inspiring things I’ve heard, and it will completely change your life.
Do you ever feel that the disadvantages encircling you are just too great to overcome? Or do you find yourself blaming the world and everyone else for your inaction? David Goggins knows the feeling of adversity well, but that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most acclaimed athletes and veterans of our generation.
David's method of holding himself accountable and pushing himself to his limits is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
The public knows David Goggins as “the toughest man alive.” He is the only person who has completed Navy SEAL training, Army Ranger training, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. He participated in three Navy SEAL Hell Weeks — completing two. He once held the Guinness World Record for most pull-ups completed with 4,030 in 17 hours. He placed 3rd in the Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley and completed 60+ ultramarathons. He is a machine. He embodies what it means to #MAXOUT
He overcame extreme adversity from many sources, including an abusive father, several learning disabilities, and obesity, among other challenges. Even though he’s accomplished far more than anyone expected, he continues to push himself and break barrier after barrier in his journey to be the best possible Goggins.
He published his memoir in 2018 titled Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds — a fitting title for the absolute hell that he’s gone through to become who he is. I could go on and on about his achievements, but I know that you all want to hear his story and the lessons that he’s learned from pushing himself to the maximum.
Goggins grew up in Buffalo, New York. He and his mother and brother lived in fear because of the extreme physical and emotional abuse they suffered from his alcoholic father. He regularly became violent when drinking alcohol. One day David finally stood up to his father after witnessing him almost beat his mother unconscious.
“I’ve been scared to death of this guy because he’s been beating the shit out of me since I can remember … so this time, I stuck around, and I started to help her out. So I go down the stairs, and I jumped on his back … And he beat me literally from my neck down to my ankles, like black and blue.” - David Goggins
Even though he was terrified of his father, he still pushed himself and did whatever he could to protect his mother. He overcame that fear and did not let his father’s abuse control his actions. The bruises he received from his father were so bad that when his mother saw the extent of the injuries, she was horrified. Goggins said that her reaction is and will always be “tattooed” on his brain.
Goggins’ childhood trauma did not end with his alcoholic father. Once his mother took him and his brother to relocate to Brazil, Indiana, he experienced more events that would culminate in him developing post-traumatic stress disorder. He received racially motivated threats and bullying from his peers. He witnessed the aftermath of his school bus flattening the head of an elementary student. On top of all that, his mother’s fiancé was murdered.
“I slept on my floor for ... four months to six months ... I was afraid to sleep in my bed for some reason. Don't know why.” - David Goggins
Goggins did not let his childhood trauma limit his adult life. He did not let it define him, but overcame it and achieved greatness.
Even someone as successful as Goggins had to start somewhere. He had to shift his mindset into holding himself accountable for what was happening in his life. In school, he suffered from multiple learning disabilities, but he did not let his disabilities stop him from accomplishing what he wanted to achieve.
After years of struggling academically, his mother received a letter from his high school, stating that he was about to flunk out. When she approached him, he decided that he could no longer blame other people for his life and needed to take accountability for his actions.
“So this is when I developed my accountability mirror … So I look in the fucking mirror. I see this letter ... And I’m like, ‘You know what, man? No one is coming to help me’... in this mirror, it wasn’t my mom ... It wasn’t my dad. It was me. ‘Cause ... nobody coming back to fucking help David Goggins, that was my mindset now … I go look at myself. I’m like, ‘Who am I?’ So I’m defeated in this mirror. And I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m changing’.” - David Goggins
David did not let his failures weigh him down. Up until that point in his life, he had done poorly in school, but he made a conscious decision to change his life and try as hard as possible to change that person that he saw in the mirror.
David worked with a tutor, who joked that he was only going to remember the material if he wrote it down a thousand times. He took this literally and started writing everything down repeatedly so that the content would stick. He continued using this strenuous method of learning even when studying to become a Navy SEAL. He wrote down the entirety of the U.S. Navy Diving Manual fourteen times so that he could remember it.
After completing school, David trained to join the United States Air Force Pararescue. During his training, he had difficulty with the daily water confidence training that involves avoiding panic while underwater. He refused to quit, but he found an opportunity to be medically dropped from the course after being diagnosed with sickle cell anemia.
“I wasn’t ever going back. I’m like ... ‘I’m never getting back in the fucking water again.’ But I was able to leave on a medical, but I quit … I have to [tell this part of the story] because everybody thinks I’m the world’s toughest motherfucker. And I might be somewhere about that now, but that’s where I was, and I tell the story because if I talk about … [how] I went through SEAL training, I was in three hell weeks, [and] ranger school. If I talk about all the badassery ... and I don’t tell you that I was a fucked up kid, and I was scared of shit, and I was depressed and insecure and all this shit, what good am I for anybody? … I’m that now, but I wasn’t born that. I had to make myself into that.” - David Goggins
David is open about the fact that he initially failed in the military, but he was able to turn his life around after failing. He did not let his mistakes define him and dictate how he would live the rest of his life. Guys, it’s never too late to turn your life around. Don’t let your past failures stop you from MAXING OUTyour life and being all you can be. David Goggins didn’t start as the world’s toughest man, but he became it.
After his medical discharge, David became an exterminator and gained one hundred and twenty pounds because of his poor eating habits and lifestyle. He was eventually inspired to change when he watched a documentary on SEAL training. After hearing the speech of a commanding officer at the SEAL training graduation ceremony, he felt motivated to do something great with his life.
“He goes, ‘We live in a society where mediocrity is often rewarded.’ And he looked down at the twenty-two men, and he says something about basically you all detest mediocrity ... And I just sat back, and I said, ‘God, man, I just want to be like these motherfuckers’... And I go, ‘I want to feel like you do you, you twenty-two men ... I’m tired of feeling the way I feel every day … Tired of lying to myself, lying to people, and just being some piece of shit.’ And I always knew in the back of my mind, I could be something special, but I knew the work [that] it was going to take was going to kill me. I was afraid of that. I was afraid of that brutality in the suffering [that] I was going to have to endure, but I knew, I knew I could do something …” - David Goggins
Despite being on the path to mediocrity, David turned his life around and began pushing himself to greatness. He lost 100 pounds to start SEAL training and kept pushing himself through the training despite physical adversity. He suffered from multiple stress fractures in his legs but continued training and ultimately participated in three hell weeks — completing two — and Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training.
David Goggins didn’t let his setbacks define him or stop him from striving for greatness. He reinvented himself to become the man he wanted to be.
Even after accomplishing a successful military career in SEAL Team Five, David kept pushing himself and maxing out his life through athletic accomplishments.
He set his sights on running the Badwater Ultramarathon — known as “the world’s toughest foot race.” He first needed to complete the San Diego One Day race to qualify. The San Diego One Day is a hundred-mile endurance race that lasts twenty-four hours.
David found out about the race only three days before it was to occur, so he was forced to participate without training beforehand.
“Hardest thing I did my entire life, dude, was this one race... I was not prepared at all ... No water, no nothing … ’cause I never drink water on runs and shit. I fucking didn’t know about all this shit … I sit down at mile seventy … and everything falls the fuck apart … I’m like peeing blood down my leg … I got thirty fucking miles to go, and I’m in the worst shape of my entire life.” - David Goggins
David was in the hardest position he had ever been in, but he was still able to push himself through to the end of the race.
“I’m in the worst shape of my entire life ever. I’ve never even been close to this … I did a hundred miles in nineteen hours and six minutes … I learned more from that nineteen hours and six minutes than I did in all three hell weeks [and] ranger school ... And she [Goggins’ girlfriend] said, we gotta get you to the doctor … And I go, ‘I’m not going anywhere. I want to sit here and enjoy this pain’ ... What I was feeling is what I just did … I took a raw human being with no training whatsoever. [I] put him out in a condition. And just through this alone, got through it. I was in the worst pain in my life. And it was the best feeling I ever had in my life. Not because of the pain I was in. By the pain was confirmation … And it was confirmation proof positive that this young kid that came from shit, that wasn’t shit, that lied and cheated. I was now the truth. I was a Navy SEAL.” - David Goggins
David was able to overcome his physical pain and against all the odds was able to push himself beyond what anyone could have thought possible to become who he is.
Even after everything he’s done — the military career, all the records, the ultramarathons — he’s still pushing himself to keep growing and becoming even greater. Guys, I hope David Goggins’ story inspires you to keep pushing beyond what anyone thinks possible. I know it inspired me.
If you know someone who could benefit from David's story, make sure to share this episode and tag them. And don’t forget to use the #MAXOUT hashtag and tell me your biggest takeaways in the comments below! I read them every week and select winners get all sorts of prizes, gear, and even personal coaching calls!
No matter what stage of life that you’re in, you can always begin pushing yourself to accomplish your goals. Don’t let the world limit you, and don’t limit yourself! Keep striving to #MAXOUT and become who you want to be.