By Donagh Broderick
David Goggins should have been just another unfortunate statistic in our society. Abusive father, single mother, learning disabilities, apathetic teachers in poor rural schools, a pregnant girlfriend, an African American who experienced racism first-hand growing up in Brazil, Indiana. Later in life he would be diagnosed with the sickle cell trait and discover he had a hole in the atrium of his heart.
David had every reason to quit and say he wasn’t meant to be anyone great. Today he is known as an ultra-marathon runner and triathlete, the man who set a world record for pull ups. He is the only man in history to become a navy seal, an air force tactical air controller and an army ranger, who undertook three hell-weeks finishing on broken legs and even attempted to join Delta Force, the United States’ most elite Special Forces Unit. He also served a tour in Iraq. At age 45 Goggins is now a volunteer fighting forest fires in California alongside men half his age.
Throughout his life Goggins sought out the hard path and a lot of the time the hard path found him whether he liked it or not. He put himself in uncomfortable situations to callous his mind. This is how David refers to the process of mentally toughening yourself by doing what makes you uncomfortable or what you are afraid of. In his case, he was able to teach himself to swim and conquer his fear of the water so that he could join the navy seals. Goggins didn’t have good genes or the right background and yet has managed to do more in twenty years than most of us will do our entire lives. The man confronted his inner demons to master his mind to push himself past the 40 percent we all cruise by in life at.
When Goggins ran his first hundred-mile marathon, he did so to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a foundation that gives college and other financial grants to the children of fallen Special Operations soldiers. The experience left his body, which was thick and muscular and thus completely unsuited for the endurance requirements of running, shattered and badly broken. Later in life he would discover he was so jacked up and tight that his body was beginning to shut down which would require hundreds of hours of stretching to rectify. His legs were so badly fractured after his third hell week attempt, he would have to complete BUDs training, a rigorious underwater SEAL fitness test, by binding them in tape as he would not be allowed to try for the Navy SEALs again. Despite messing himself up and mangling his body so many times he always bounced back and improved, proving that anyone can recover from setbacks no matter now dilapidating.
Goggins is living proof of what the human body is capable of when pushed to its limits. When we confront our inner fears and know how to answer the simple questions of why we’re putting ourselves through the pain on the road to improvement we can accomplish almost anything. It’s not always easy of course. Goggins believes that most of us cruise through life at 40%, barely scraping at our potential and this belief forms the basis of his personal life philosophy. You might break yourself, injure yourself, mess up and deal with excruciating pain, but you’ll push yourself to things you never believed you or anyone else thought you were capable of. Goggins explores his life story and his beliefs further in his book ‘Can’t Hurt Me’ which was published in 2018, a book that should make its way onto all of our reading lists no matter our path in life.
Goggins had to do three hell weeks before he could graduate from BUD’s, having been taken down by double pneumonia on his first attempt and failing a water exercise after his second. It took him three attempts before he broke the pull up record he tried to smash. At every turn Goggins never accepted
the idea that he had reached his limit, that it was not meant to be. He learned from his mistakes, unlocked his full potential and persevered.
Following David’s example we could all push beyond our 40 percent limit, master our minds and reach our full potential. To Goggins I will say what he always says to his followers online, “Stay hard!”