David Goggin’s first book Can’t Hurt Me came at an important time in my life in 2019 when I really needed a kick up the backside and an injection of self-respect. I needed to own an embarrassing victim mindset I’d acquired from years of not understanding why so many people didn’t follow through on the referral process I had trained or coached them on. Following through for several months on his book's action ideas helped me regain my self-respect. But then I became disengaged from Goggin’s work because it seemed that he was fueled by trauma and rage, which doesn’t lead to fulfillment in life.
After reading his new book Never Finished, it has provided me with a different perspective and new level of respect for him. He shares more about what really drives him. While he focuses on hard work far more than synchronicity, flow, collaboration, inspiration, or luck to propel you to greatness, it is impossible not to respect the stand Goggins takes that is free of excuses and is inspiration to people of every background who want to explore what they’re truly capable of in life.
The newest genre of personal development books no longer pretends that if you follow the recipe, you will be a huge success making bucket loads of money, which is refreshing. It makes them more accessible and credible because it sends the message to focus on what you can control and to suck deeper on the marrow of intrinsic motivation.
To achieve the outstanding, Goggins explains what it takes in no uncertain terms:
1. “Your greatness is not tied to any outcome. It is found in the valiance of the attempt.”
In other words: DO YOUR BEST DAMMIT! He shares an inspiring story of someone in his early 20’s who exposed his own shortcomings at the time. While he was attending Air Assault School and was just meeting the minimum standards, another participant, Captain Connolly, was doing every part of the training until he was completely maxed out. “It was the first time I’ve ever seen someone do more than what was required.”
He observed “an entirely different animal” who “came to explore what he was made of and grow.” THIS is the type of person Goggins encourages us all to be.
2. “It is the uncommon story, the uncommon leader, that inspires others to seek more of themselves, work harder, and rise to the occasion.”
This is what drives David Goggins. And it’s hard to argue with him. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail protesting apartheid. Mother Teresa lived in the slums of Calcutta for over 50 years to help the poor. Martin Luther King risked consistent death threats to himself and his young family to lead the civil rights movement. Amelia Earhart had to play second fiddle to numerous less capable men, being treated as “a sack of potatoes,” and scathing press reviews (because of her gender) before being given serious opportunities to fly and become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932.
Even though Goggins came from humble origins and a highly abusive childhood, he’s decided to determine his limits. “I do it because the body and mind never fail to amaze me.” He grew up feeling like a nobody who wanted to be respected. Can you relate? He was a fearful child who never dared to swim in the deep end.
What also drives him? “The rewards I seek are internal, and if you have that mindset, you will find opportunities for growth everywhere.” Seek intrinsic rather than extrinsic rewards for the most fulfilling life.
3. “I know that atmospheric line between black and blue. It is the glimmer of greatness that runs right through the human soul. We all have it.”
This is the premise of my next book, The 5 Habits to Mine Your Gold. We all have a vein of gold to be tapped and occasionally sense it. What does Goggins think it takes to mine it?
4. “Accept that you are on your own. Nobody will come to save you…it will be up to you to do the work. Then, you must become a disciple of discipline.”
This is a muscle we can all build from scratch, and it is achievable through repetition. Your ultimate goal is for your discipline to become your default setting. I write about it as the mindset to ‘choose your hard’ and develop ever more empowering habits around it.
As I wrote last week from Seth Godin’s book, The Icarus Deception, part of the process is that you have to pick yourself to lead rather than wait for someone else to pick you and “with discipline as your medium, your life will become a work of art…if you are disciplined, there will be no stopping you.” This is a big ‘if’ – I repeat, it’s a muscle that demands a lot of repetition and the moral of the story is: if he can do it, you can do it.
5. “I knew that there were no tricks around fear. The only way to neutralize it was to commit to doing the ****ing thing that freaked me out and then proceed to outsmart my fear through knowledge and preparation.”
And, as Stephen Covey used to say: Begin with the end in mind. Visualize it. “You have to train your mind as if you’re already there.” Move past your fear of the unknown.
6. “The call to remain complacent will only grow louder until you silence it with a pattern of behavior that leaves no doubt about your mission.”
Once you embark on getting up to bigger things, you can be assured that your ego, inner critic, and your internal status-quo lover will protest and do everything it can to talk you out of making change. You will likely panic.
USEFUL TIP: Record your self-doubting self-talk “into the microphone (of your phone) and listen to it over and over…the poison will be neutralized, and the power will be yours.”
How we speak to ourselves in moments of doubt is crucial to impacting your outcomes. The confrontational pain of hearing your weakest voice will help to get you back into action. You can write it down, but nothing compares to hearing your own voice. Speak the full truth to yourself: “This skill demands repetition, and if you do it regularly, you’ll find that it won’t take long for your self-talk to flip from doubt and dread to optimism and empowerment.”
The same is true about bouncing back from a setback or hard times. Look for the useful lessons that life is trying to teach you. Get back to work on regaining your self-respect, self-love, and self-mastery.
7. “Small minds and weak people kill big dreams.”
You need a great support team. I wrote a chapter on this topic in my new book. Not everyone is on your side 100%. “Some (people) are threatened by your growth because of how it impacts them. Some of them are looking for a friend to keep them company in their half-ass lives.”
Don’t let the bosses and leaders in your life limit your outcomes when they reject or ignore you. Avoid being swayed by the opinions and projections of others even if they are your ‘superiors’ or elders. The opportunities to make a difference are everywhere. We can all make a difference with someone each day. Forget about what other people are doing or what they think of you and go out and see what you are capable of.
8. “Most people …put all the greats on a pedestal but think of themselves as mere mortals…I will always aim for greatness because I know we are all mortals and greatness is possible for anyone and everyone if they are willing to seek it out in their soul.”
It’s an inspiring fact. We are all guilty of putting certain people on pedestals and making them other-worldly. Plenty of people deserve huge accolades for their contributions, but where many of us fall foul is elevating their accomplishments to the super-human rather than knuckling down to do the hard courageous yards ourselves.
It reminds me of Michelangelo. It took him from 1508-1512 to paint the Sistine Chapel. Wikipedia describes it as “a project which changed the course of Western art and is regarded as one of the major artistic accomplishments of human civilization.” Michelangelo described it differently: “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all.”
9. “Once you make it in this world, you have to freefall back to the bottom in some way to keep learning and growing.”
Goggins calls this “trained humility.” Be humble enough to avoid pontificating from the ivory tower and know there are always new lessons to learn to keep you hungry and growing. Go back to ‘mopping the floor.’
10. Useful tips:
a) “When your entire day is ****ed up, ensure you achieve something positive before lights out.” Even after a rotten day, end it with something empowering. Make this automatic and you will strategize better in the future.
b) “Believe me, if you think you’re being watched, you live differently.” Imagine someone important to you is watching your every move. That’s how to self-lead faster and better.
c) “The full-time savage sees everything in life as an opportunity to learn, adapt, and evolve.” As quickly as you can, take everything that happens to you and use it as fuel.
11. “A person who refuses to quit has a lot of tools at their disposal.”
Goggins has learned that you can build a remarkably deep reservoir of resolve as a muscle over time. You want to do hard things daily to build resolve: “You must take advantage of any opportunity to strengthen your resolve because when life hits you in the mouth, you will need that resolve.” This will help you learn lessons from the tough times – the lessons that are usually the most impactful ones.
12. Challenge the so-called limits for “people like you”.
Commit to change. It’s rarely easy. Choose your hard. Be your own role model. Break the mold of whatever people typically do from your family, culture, gender, race, religion, or country.
“I know what we are all capable of when we are willing to think unreasonably and push past the point where almost everybody else would beg to stop.” Take failure out of the equation because you know you will never give up: “because you go in knowing the process will be long and arduous…to bump up against the outer reaches of your capabilities is the pinnacle.” In a world with too many numbing and creature comforts, the ultimate goal for you and me is “to evolve into the very best versions of ourselves.” Start now.
To your best self!
Founder & President
Matt Anderson International
1177 Oak Ridge Drive, Glencoe, IL 60022, USA
Phone: +001 (312) 622-3121