Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

Reading Time: 3 minutes


David Goggins shares how he transcended poverty and abuse to become one of the world’s top endurance athletes. His story reveals how mastering your mind, hard work, and becoming friends with pain can help you achieve the unimaginable.

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Key Takeaways

It doesn’t always go your way

Life won’t always go your way, so if you start thinking that it will, you’ll be disappointed and less effective. Being entitled is a disempowering mindset. Instead of focusing on what you think you deserve, figure out what you want and be willing to pay the dues required to get it.

The 40% rule

Most of us tap into only 40% of our capabilities. When your mind is telling you that you’re done, completely exhausted and not able to go any further, you’re only at about 40% of your potential. When you get to the 40%, you need to tap into a hidden reserve or energy and motivation. Keep fighting when you feel like you’re done, and that’s when you unlock the remaining 60% of your potential.

Forget the quick-fixes

“Our culture has become hooked on the quick-fix, the life hack, efficiency. Everyone is on the hunt for that simple action algorithm that nets maximum profit with the least amount of effort. There’s no denying this attitude may get you some of the trappings of success, if you’re lucky, but it will not lead to a calloused mind or self-mastery. If you want to master the mind and remove your governor, you’ll have to become addicted to hard work. Because passion and obsession, even talent, are only useful tools if you have the work ethic to back them up.”

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Don’t fall for the alluring trap of quick-fix life hacks. You need to learn how to harness talent, hard work, passion, and obsession to relentlessly pursue your goals. To do this well, you need to master your mind. Without mastery of your mind, you cannot unlock your full potential.

No one is going to help you

If you want something, YOU have to go after it. Don’t wait for someone else to give you the opportunity. Don’t wait for someone else to help you. If it’s your dream, it’s on YOU. If you wait, you’ll be waiting until you’re on your deathbed if you don’t take action.

Callous your mind

When you’re ready to quit, stay the course. See how far you can go. It’s likely further than you think, and by not quitting, you’ll callous your mind. This will help you when things get tough. You’ll learn to work hard even when you don’t want to. That will pay off on your path.

Progress is motivating

“We all need small sparks, small accomplishments in our lives to fuel the big ones.”

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Even if you have big dreams, you need to start with small victories. Those small victories will provide the fuel you need for the bigger fire you want to build. Find ways to set up milestones along the way that will keep you going. Progress is one of the most motivating forces out there.

Be a warrior

“Heraclitus, a philosopher born in the Persian Empire back in the fifth century BC, had it right when he wrote about men on the battlefield. “Out of every one hundred men,” he wrote, “ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior…”

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Be the 1% of people willing to do what it takes. Be the warrior. The warrior trains, battles, and never backs down. If you want to achieve the unachievable, being a warrior is the only way.

Life is suffering

Life is not easy. There is pain, sadness, humiliation, hardship, failed dreams, death, and everyday ups and downs. To be great in life, you need to be prepared to confront this suffering. If you resist it, you’ll cause yourself even more pain. Embrace and get comfortable with the pain. Use it as motivation.

It’s all on you

You have to master your mind. You’re the only one who can do that. To accomplish things that other people think are unachievable begins with mastery of the mind. Without that, you won’t survive the battle ahead.

Pain is the way

Pain unlocks a secret doorway in the mind, one that leads to both peak performance, and beautiful silence.”

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Pain unlocks the pathway to optimal performance. You have to become friends with pain, instead of running away from it. Goggins learned to love pain, and this took him further than he ever thought he could go.

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