Twelve Life Lessons from "Can't Hurt Me" by David Goggins
These are my notes and quotes from an amazing book and audiobook that I've read three times, Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins (only $2.99 on Amazon in July 2019!). I've included quotes and from both the book and the audiobook, which has some off-the-cuff commentary delivered by Goggins himself in his usual highly animated and emphatic style, full of swear words.
Warning: I will not edit out David Goggins' swearwords. They are part and parcel of him. If you don't like them, don't listen to him, and don't read this.
Firstly, "Can't Hurt Me" is NOT a motivation book. Goggins doesn't want you to motivated. He wants you to be obsessed. "To the point where people will think you're fucking nuts", he said.
Secondly, Goggins doesn't want you to like him. He wants you to learn how to like yourself, and then be the best version of yourself. You need to be "uncommon in your world".
This is a book about your life ahead of you and how you can take control of it. How you can beat it by turning your story into your best ally. How you can embrace suffering and transform through it.
Here are the principal ideas that I took from the book. I kept these notes for myself, but want to share them with anyone.
Summary of the Lessons from "Can't Hurt Me"
This is my personal summary. Click for details on each one. I highly encourage you to read/listen to the book and get from it what you can yourself.
- Don't just get motivated. Get obsessed. Motivation fades, but obsession pulls you through difficult odds.
- Be your own hero, and be uncommon in your own world. You can be "uncommon" in being a parent, a teacher, or someone working in a company.
- Callous your Mind by Making Uncomfortable Choices. Chase pain in one domain, and learn to see through it, to be able to conquer pain elsewhere in life.
- Earn your place every day. Never get complacent. You always have something to prove — to yourself.
- Embrace being "The Other". Being uncommon means being different. Which can only mean good!
- Conquer other people's minds (and "take their souls"). Leapfrog others' expectations of you, shocking them, so they are at a loss how to dominate you.
- Run your own race, and don't let others dictate your reality. You're only competing against yourself.
- Think about others, and lead from the front. Help others, and your own burden will become much lighter.
- Accept your flaws and triple down on them. Stare at yourself in the mirror and think: how can I improve?
- Dip into the Cookie Jar of Past Victories. Keep note of times you succeeded. Remember them as inspiration for how you'll succeed again.
- Surround yourself with your champions. Be inspired constantly!
- Remove the "Governor" within yourself, because it's holding you to 40% of your potential. When you think you're done and can go no longer... you're not even halfway at your full potential.
Onward to the full notes. Enjoy.
1. Don't just get motivated. Get obsessed.
Goggins is about much, much more than motivation. He's about getting "obsessed". Motivation gets you started, but obsession gets you through every bit of rough terrain until you're someone you never thought you could be.
Motivation is crap. It's just a little bit of kindling. That's all it is. Some people will read this and be so fucking motivated and then they'll have a bad day. Then on that bad day their motivation is going to be fucking gone.
I realised that about the human mind. I had to be more than motivated. I had to be more than driven. I had to be literally obsessed. To the point where people thought I was fucking nuts.
You want to get to the point in your life when all these things that you're supposed to do that you don't do everyday bother you they haunt you, they eat away at you throughout the day. If you miss something you said you'd do and if you think "you know, what it's not a bit deal, I'll do it tomorrow" you're not there yet.
(from the commentary)
Goggins is an obsessive person in some aspects of his life, and he extended it to others. For example, he was obsessive in calling Navy recruiters to give him a chance, even though he was a hundred pounds overweight at the time. He was obsessive in tracking down Air Force Rescuemen until he found the one that gave a speech that inspired him.
He became obsessed with learning, with running and with physical fitness training. He started from an extremely low level in everything. Before taking the test to enter the Air Force, he read like a third grader, and had to teach himself to read so he could pass the tests. And before joining the Navy SEALs, he weighed nearly 300 pounds, more than a hundred pounds over their weight limit, and with only two months to lose the weight. He needed an insane amount of obsession to lose 100 pounds in two months.
What I learn from this: I'm obsessed with some things. I'm obsessed with languages, fitness, travel, motorcycles, writing and technology/coding — to different degrees (and to different degrees to Goggins). I don't let go of things until I've mastered them. If I have to learn ten words or sentences a day, I feel bad if I don't. If I miss a work-out in the morning because of work, I end up doing sets of push-ups at the office throughout the day. Otherwise, I feel like I've let myself down. Often, I end up punishing myself by going further and harder than ever before.
And I have to become obsessed in more things. I have to, for example, be obsessed with a product I'm building. Or cold-emailing, which I hate. Or marketing. Or running longer every day.
All of this takes focus and dedication. "It takes singular focus to become an over-achiever.". So don't multitask: single-task on one thing in front of you.
People can multitask big time. Which to me makes you half-assed at a lot of shit. I have to be hyper focused on whatever's in front of me. Some of us are so busy multitasking we don't do shit.
(from the commentary)
Pick something you want to improve in your life, that you struggle to get "motivated" to improve. How can you get "obsessed"?
2. Be your own hero, and be uncommon in your own world
Goggins explicitly doesn't want us to be like him. He wants us to be ourselves, but the best possible version of ourselves — whatever that is.
He wants us to welcome failure. Keep setting the bar higher. And don't look to others; you only look to yourself and what you can achieve yourself.
This can actually even be alienating:
When you're constantly pushing and getting up earlier and earlier and fighting through pain and discomfort you don't care about failure. You actually welcome it. You set the bar so high, you say "oh, I failed. That means that's where I need to be." People say: "Hey man, fuck you, I don't like being around you. You make me feel like an underachiever."
It's not about being me. It's not about doing these record attempts and going through all this training. You have to be uncommon amongst uncommon in YOUR world — whatever that is. It's not for everybody. Because to be in this world it takes everything. And then just when you think you've given everything, you've just begun.
(from the audiobook commentary)
A lot of this applies to absolutely anyone. Goggins goes hard at athletic achievements — running longer and faster, swimming, and conquering physical weaknesses he had. But he makes it clear constantly that being "uncommon" has many flavours. There are uncommon family members, office workers and labourers. It just takes doing what you do in daily life with a different attitude, one of excelling and constantly improving.
No matter who you are, life will present you similar opportunities where you can prove to be uncommon. There are people in all walks of life who relish those moments, and when I see them I recognize them immediately because they are usually that motherfucker who’s all by himself. It’s the suit who’s still at the office at midnight while everyone else is at the bar, or the badass who hits the gym directly after coming off a forty eight hour op. She’s the wildland firefighter who instead of hitting her bedroll, sharpens her chainsaw after working a fire for twenty four hours. That mentality is there for all of us. Man, woman, straight, gay, black, white, or purple fucking polkadot. All of us can be the person who flies all day and night only to arrive home to a filthy house, and instead of blaming family or room-mates, cleans it up right then because they refuse to ignore duties undone.
All over the world amazing human beings like that exist. It doesn’t take wearing a uniform. It’s not about all the hard schools they graduated from, all their patches and medals. It’s about wanting it like there’s no tomorrow—because there might not be. It’s about thinking of everybody else before yourself and developing your own code of ethics that sets you apart from others. One of those ethics is the drive to turn every negative into a positive, and then when shit starts flying, being prepared to lead from the front.
From the book, p278
Goggins also tell us specifically: "don't do what I did". By this he means: don't go do a 100 mile run with no training, just because he did. You might be able to, but it won't teach you anything new.
Instead, just seek to improve continuously on your own standards. Do as many push-ups as you can, and then do more. Run 50 miles in a week, and then 55 miles the next week, and keep setting your own bar higher. It doesn't matter what people around you do.
If you were someone you'd look up to, what would you be doing? What different choices would you make?
3. Callous your Mind by Making Uncomfortable Choices
Nothing Goggins advocates is about becoming an ultra runner, or a member of the Special Forces.
It's about becoming stronger in the mind, so we can take whatever life throws at us.
My goal was to be the hardest man that God every created. And it wasn't about being a SEAL or a Ranger. It was about when these times came up — like hey, you're gonna have heart surgery – how do you attack that? That's what hardness means to me. How do you handle what life throws at you?
When he found out he had to have heart surgery, he had two choices: 1. Accept all he had achieved in life, or 2. Use this as a platform to go further and be stronger.
What choice would you make?
As a way of callousing our minds to making difficult decisions, Goggins is a big advocate of "doing something that sucks" every day. This is especially important in the early stages of any transformation. For him, this was swimming, because he sinks like a stone in water.
But it's not about self-punishment or torture. He's encouraging us to callous our minds so that when life throws hardship at us, we can deal with it gracefully.
This is especially important in the beginning stages of any transformation. Trying to keep to a better diet? Watch how your mind trips you up at every instance, trying to give you excuses to get out. Trying to meditate every day? Listen to every one of those ridiculous reasons your mind throws at you... you're tired you have to work early, you "get the point"... yes, these are things my mind tells me.
We all have a voice in our head that is trying to direct us to a place where we can be better. We also have another voice in our head that says "ah, fuck that, let's not do that."
So whatever that voice was saying that sucked, that made me very uncomfortable — I started realising that that's the only voice I can listen to. The other voice was a voice of comfort, and I had to stop listening to that voice because it took me on the path of least resistance.
(from the commentary)
Goggins also talks about how we have to keep pushing through artificial pain barriers our mind throws up. He often talks about the "forty percent rule", how we tend to give up before we've even reached half our potential (more on that later here).
On the temptation to give up before you actually have reached your limit:
I understand the temptation to sell short, but I also know that impulse is driven by your mind’s desire for comfort, and it’s not telling you the truth. It’s your identity trying to find sanctuary, not help you grow. It’s looking for status quo, not reaching for greatness or seeking wholeness. But the software update that you need to shut your governor down is no supersonic download. It takes twenty years to gain twenty years of experience, and the only way to move beyond your 40 percent is to callous your mind, day after day. Which means you’ll have to chase pain like it’s your damn job!
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.
(From the book, p 211. My emphasis)
You have to make these uncomfortable choices every day. Are you used to running five kilometres? Run seven. Feel hungry? Try not eating that snack for an hour. Hold back, and control your mind, rather than let it control you.
As he said:
"Everybody in LA these days has a scooter. Walking scooters, sitting scooters. Just walk to the fucking store!!!"
What's an uncomfortable choice that you will make today?
4. Earn Your Place Every Day
Goggins often talks about doing something that "sucks" every day. Or doing something you hate. Presuming it's something good for you.
In military terms, he describes it as earning your "trident" every day, referring to the marker of the Navy SEALs.
Well after graduating from military training schools to become a SEAL or anything else, Goggins revelled in treating every day like it was day zero, like he was nobody, and that he had everything to prove.
For me, for example, it's basics like running early in the day, or swimming in cold water.
Our mind can be our best friend but also our worst enemy. I catch myself talking out of my daily commitments every day.
- "I should study this morning. Maybe I'll run later." Answer: No. Get up earlier and study then, if I have to.
- "My foot kind of hurts. Maybe it's stress fractures from going out too hard." Answer: No. I've barely begun. That's the pain of muscles not used to being used.
- "I need sunglasses." Answer: No I don't.
Like Goggins, I'm a strong believer that if you're not moving forwards, you're moving backwards. I learned this in 2006 when travelling to Italy. Everyone was kind of resigned to putting on weight from pasta and pastries. Not me! I swore off all of it and hit the gym every day, aiming to lose weight while I was there. I did, and got fitter too.
Goggins wants us to "start at zero every day":
No matter what you or I achieve, in sports, business, or life, we can’t be satisfied. Life is too dynamic a game. We’re either getting better or we’re getting worse. Yes, we need to celebrate our victories. There’s power in victory that’s transformative, but after our celebration we should dial it down, dream up new training regimens, new goals, and start at zero the very next day.
Starting at zero is a mindset that says my refrigerator is never full, and it never will be. We can always become stronger and more agile, mentally and physically. We can always become more capable and more reliable. Since that’s the case we should never feel that our work is done. There is always more to do.
Are you an experienced scuba diver? Great, shed your gear, take a deep breath and become a one hundred foot free diver. Are you a badass triathlete? Cool, learn how to rock climb. Are you enjoying a wildly successful career? Wonderful, learn a new language or skill. Get a second degree. Always be willing to embrace ignorance and become the dumb fuck in the classroom again, because that is the only way to expand your body of knowledge and body of work. It’s the only way to expand your mind.
From the book, p 284 (my emphasis)
Let's say tomorrow nobody knew who you were or what you had achieved. You show up to work, to the gym or to the playing field and have to convince everyone from scratch. What are you going to do? How will you behave?
5. Embrace being "The Other"
Goggins always talks about being the "other".
When living in a wealthy community, being "the other" meant how he had to work evening shifts at his father's business, and how he was beaten by his father regularly.
When living separate from his father and having a more normal life, being "the other" meant having a "fucked up childhood" and living with calloused wounds.
He always saw himself as separate. But at some point, he learned to embrace it, and to draw power from it.
From this point forward, accept the following as Goggins’ laws of nature:
* You will be made fun of.
* You will feel insecure.
* You may not be the best all the time.
* You may be the only black, white, Asian, Latino, female, male, gay, lesbian or [fill in your identity here] in a given situation.
* There will be times when you feel alone.
Get over it! Our minds are fucking strong, they are our most powerful weapon, but we have stopped using them. We have access to so many more resources today than ever before and yet we are so much less capable than those who came before us. If you want to be one of the few to defy those trends in our ever softening society, you will have to be willing to go to war with yourself and create a whole new identity, which requires an open mind. It’s funny, being open minded is often tagged as new age or soft. Fuck that.
From the book, p 219
More broadly, embracing being "the other" means being comfortable in our own skin and liking ourselves. If we don't like ourselves, our entire foundation is cracked and it'll be impossible to build much on top of it because we'll always be at war with ourselves. More on that later.
Like Goggins, I grew up being "the other", a brown kid in a mostly-white Australian community, in conflict with my own confused identity, and acting out as a cry to be recognised as different. This grew to define me, and I always sought to do what was uncommon, to separate myself from my surroundings. While surrounded by people who wanted to become software engineers, I became obsessed with joining the Air Force as a cadet, and trained every day to meet their fitness standards. Later, in university, I embraced the split identity of being a dual Engineering/Law double degree candidate, aiming to excel at both in a world where people assumed you could do only one of those things.
In what way are you an "other" and how can you use it to your advantage?
6. Conquer other people's minds (and "take their souls")
One of Goggins' realisations growing up was how insecure people were. Bullies are battling their own demons and take their insecurities out on others.
He talked about a process of taking the "soul" of another person, by doing something they could never imagine themselves having done, in the same situation:
There are so many insecure people out there. Even Navy SEALs, the elite of the elite, have demons. Alpha males hate seeing anybody being better than them. We have to know the human mind and how it works. So when they imagine themselves on Wednesday they were imagining themselves being beat down. They were thinking of themselves at the time I was at. So I thought, how can I win this? All I have to do is own some real estate in their mind. I have to show them that at the worst time of their life I am at their best time. And they stopped fucking with boat crew two. And I took their soul. Because they were thinking: how did they do what I could have never done.
(from the commentary)
Goggins also cautions you have to know the terrain before you choose this tactic, and it's not always appropriate. Or the way you do it might not be.
For example, in a job interview, it would be bad to make the interviewer feel insecure about themselves. But a solid way of approaching an interview would be to go so far beyond the interviewers expectations that there is no question in their mind that you'd be a good fit for the job. Is it a casual interview for fit? Bring an entire presentation and proposal to walk through with them. Did you work on a business model together during the meeting? Even if it went well, put together a real model and email it to the interview later.
What's a way in which you can go to a length nobody saw coming and totally shock them with your raw ability?
7. Run your own race, and don't let others dictate your reality
In his ultra-running days, Goggins learned that it was foolish to try to keep pace with anyone (unless they're your dedicated pacer). It's ridiculous to try to race someone.
As competitive people we often have this urge. Go faster, harder. Work longer. But it is pointless, because it's a competition within ourselves. It's with our own ego, and our ego always loses.
Goggins also talks about how we can't listen to what other people will tell us. It's a classic saying, for example, that in a marathon you get tired around mile 18. (I challenge this, I can get tired by mile 5.) But you don't have to get tired just because someone told you you will. Get tired on your own terms!
Goggins tells of going through Hell week:
"They tell you on Wednesday you'll start getting tired. They've been saying this for seventy years! That gets in your hearts. So you start to believe what another man told you. Not what you feel. So you get to Wednesday and think "I must be tired." Not what's in your head! Well I didn't believe shit. I said: "Don't feel what another man told you. Feel what YOU feel. Don't let their reality be your reality."
Life is one big mind game. But usually you're just playing against yourself."
(from the commentary)
Goggins often references the "40% rule", saying that most of us let our minds make us quit way before we're actually exhausted. He says that we can get more out of ourselves, but that competition is not the ideal state.
It's impossible to find that 60% more if you're competing. When you're by yourself, you can do a live autopsy. You're competing against yourself and only yourself. My best races always came when i went into the race just against David Goggins.
(from the commentary)
I always perform better in competition, but I'm also most likely to hurt myself. At the same time, I do my best and improve the most when I'm on my own. If I run, and run quickly and do it on my own, I feel much more proud than if there are people around me.
8. Think about others, and lead from the front
Goggins often praises others for leading from the front, and always aspired to do it himself too.
He loved it when his officers in command were the fittest, strongest people of the group, and set the pace of physical training.
This is a simple idea that he said he did well once during his second Hell Week, and once during Ranger training. In both these times, he focused on his team mates, leading from the front, and enduring pain because he knew that if he bore through it, they'd feast on his pain and push further.
The more you think about yourself when you're going through hell, the harder hell is going to be. The second you start thinking about everyone else, you're no longer thinking about yourself. You're not trapped in your own thoughts. You're not trapped in yourself.
(from the commentary)
Sometimes, this is what working hard is about. Demonstrating to others that if you can do it, they can do it. It's why leaders set the pace. It's why I would work hard in every field I was in, to the point where I'd burn out. I wouldn't just squat heavy, I'd run fast and climb ropes. I don't just do great meetings, I get out and serve customers, fix scooters and write code. Everyone has to see me doing everything, and it empowers them to do more.
Where more can you lead from the front?
9. Accept your flaws and triple down on them
Goggins is big on self-acceptance as the first step to self-mastery. One of mottos is to be "peaceful, but never satisfied".
People (including him) often hide their pasts and pretend they didn't happen, or explain them away. He did for a while, and then learned that he could never quite run away from it. Instead, he realised that by embracing it, he would accept his weaknesses and then work on them, and draw strength from acceptance of his own self.
"In a human being your character is your foundation, and when you build a bunch of successes and pile up even more failures on a fucked up foundation, the structure that is the self won’t be sound.
"To develop an armoured mind, you need to go to the source of all your fears an insecurities. Most of us sweep our failures and evil secrets under the rug, but when we run into problems, that rug gets lifted up and our darkness re-emerges, floods our soul, and influences the decisions which determine our character.
"Anyone who is of sound mind and body can sit down and think of twenty things in their life that could have gone differently. Where maybe they didn’t get a fair shake and where they took the path of least resistance. If you’re one of the few who acknowledge that, want to callous those wounds, and strengthen your character, its up to you to go back through your past and make peace with yourself by facing those incidents and all of your negative influences, and accepting them as weak spots in your own character.
"Only when you identify and accept your weaknesses will you finally stop running from your past. Then those incidents can be used more efficiently as fuel to become better and grow stronger."
(from the book, p 147)
Accepting your weaknesses is the first step to defeating them, too.
Early in the book, he talks about the "accountability mirror". It's a mirror with post-it notes on it, with simple statements like "you're fat" or "you're not smart". If you're fat, he says, you should realise it because "it's very fucking unhealthy and you should do something about it". If you're not smart, you're going to have to work harder to keep up.
"Some people say triple down on your strengths. Yeah, that's good for some things. But if you really want to get hard and get true mental toughness you have to triple down on your weaknesses. And that's the only way you can callous your mind."
(from the commentary)
They also discuss, in the audiobook, how focusing on your strengths is important if you're trying to master one particular skill. But becoming mentally hard means doing things that you're not good at and that will push you outside your comfort zone.
10. Dip into the Cookie Jar of Past Victories
Goggins, like all of us, endured a lot of hardship. A lot of it self-inflicted, like putting himself through arduous military training. And through that came a lot of victories. He calls this collection of past victories his "Cookie Jar". He dips into his cookie jar every time he is suffering, and remembers the feeling of success.
These weren’t mere flashbacks. I wasn’t just floating through my memory files, I actually tapped into the emotional state I felt during those victories, and in so doing accessed my sympathetic nervous system once again.
We all have a cookie jar inside us, because life, being what it is, has always tested us. Even if you’re feeling low and beat down by life right now, I guarantee you can think of a time or two when you overcame odds and tasted success.
(from the book, p188)
This is a huge lesson. Think of all the times you did something amazing, defying the odds. Go back to that memory and remember how you felt. You felt invincible!
For me, these are times like
- Getting into the Australian Air Force, passing all the fitness tests, even though just one year prior I had never run a full kilometre in my life
- Finishing my law degree and topping my class in one subject, despite previously failing a unit, barely passing a few others and at one point having dropped the degree entirely
- Getting a job at Bain, a place where I had been rejected once, and after rejection from all other consulting firms
- Launching my app on an app store, when two months prior I hadn't coded in ten years and had no idea how to make an "app"
- Giving a two-minute presentation in Chinese at work on a big conference call with zero preparation, when I was still a beginner in Chinese (later finding out people in other rooms had given me a round of applause)
These times felt amazing. Thinking back to them, I have an infinite reservoir of strength. What else can I do?
You have to have these moments ready, because de-motivation can come from the most unlikely of sources:
Who hasn’t dreamed up a possibility for themselves only to have friends, colleagues, or family shit all over it? Most of us are motivated as hell to do anything to pursue our dreams until those around us remind us of the danger, the downside, our own limitations, and all the people before us that didn’t make it. Sometimes the advice comes from a well intentioned place. They really believe they are doing it for our own good but if you let them, these same people will talk you out of your dreams, and your governor will help them do it. That’s one reason I invented the Cookie Jar. We must create a system that constantly reminds us who the fuck we are when we are at our best, because life is not going to pick us up when we fall. There will be forks in the road, knives in your fucking back, mountains to climb, and we are only capable of living up to the image we create for ourselves.
(from the book, p 218)
What are the flaws within you that you've glossed over or explained away? What can you do to work within their constraints?
11. Surround yourself with your champions
Even though Goggins loves solitude, and always talks about being alone with his own thoughts, he also cherishes people around him. His biggest champion is his own mother. His mother, after seeing him fail at the world record attempt for pull-ups in 24 hours the second time, immediately said "I know one thing... you're going to do this again."
Talking about the time he was in the hospital, having his hands treated for blisters after the second attempt:
A lot of us surround ourselves with people who speak to our desire for comfort, who would rather treat the pain of our wounds and prevent further injury than help us callous over them and try again. We need to surround ourselves with people who will tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear, but at the same time not make us feel we’re up against the impossible.
Most wars are won or lost in our own heads. When we’re in a foxhole we usually aren’t alone, and we need to be confident in the quality of the heart, mind, and dialogue of the person hunkered down with us. Because at some point we will need some empowering words to keep us focused and deadly. In that hospital, in my own personal foxhole, I was swimming in doubt. But there was nobody else I’d rather have been in that foxhole with.
from the book, p 322 (my emphasis, and slightly edited)
12. Remove the "Governor" within yourself, because it's holding you to 40% of your potential
David Goggins loves the "40% rule". The general rule is that when we think of giving up, we're usually not even at half of our full potential. We give up way, way too early with everything.
The reason for this, he says, is our "governor". It holds us back. It is our cautious side, always holding something back in reserve, never letting us go full speed.
The human body is like a stock car. We may look different on the outside, but under the hood we all have huge reservoirs of potential and a governor impeding us from reaching our maximum velocity. In a car, the governor places a ceiling on performance. If you disable yours, watch your car rocket beyond 130 mph.
It’s a subtler process in the human animal. Our governor is buried deep in our minds, intertwined with our very identity. It knows what and who we love and hate; it’s read our whole life story and forms the way we see ourselves and how we’d like to be seen. It’s the software that delivers personalized feedback—in the form of pain and exhaustion, but also fear and insecurity, and it uses all of that to encourage us to stop before we risk it all. But, here’s the thing, it doesn’t have absolute control.
Unlike the governor in an engine, ours can’t stop us unless we buy into its bullshit and agree to quit.
Sadly, most of us give up when we’ve only given around 40 percent of our maximum effort. Even when we feel like we’ve reached our absolute limit, we still have 60 percent more to give! That’s the governor in action! Once you know that to be true, it’s simply a matter of stretching your pain tolerance, letting go of your identity and all your self limiting stories, so you can get to 60 percent, then 80 percent and beyond without giving up.
(from the book, p 210)
He says it's impossible to get that extra sixty percent unless you have an "animalistic mindset".
I think of this like fight or flight. When we're truly panicking – like, being chased by a predator – we're going to run like there's no tomorrow. That's what the's talking about, unleashing everything we have within ourselves until there's nothing left.
It's not "fun". But it's necessary, because of the transformative nature of the suffering.
While he was doing pull-ups, during one of his attempts at the world record:
That doesn’t mean I was having any fun. I wasn’t. I was over it. I didn’t want to do pull-ups any more, but achieving goals or overcoming obstacles doesn’t have to be fun. Seeds burst from the inside out in a self destructive ritual of new life. Does that sound like fucking fun? Like it feels good? I wasn’t in that gym to get happy or do what I wanted to be doing. I was there to turn myself inside out if that’s what it took to blast through any and all mental, emotional, and physical barriers.
From the book, p 327 (my emphasis)
He talks about Hell Week like this, after all:
Yes, it was miserable, but I fucking loved it. I thrived off of the barbaric beauty of seeing the soul of a man destroyed, only to rise again and overcome every obstacle in his path.
(from the book, p 152)
This book gives us a lot to do. It made me realise, yet again, how much I stop myself. It made me question my inner dialogue. It made me even wonder how "obsessed" I really can be, because it definitely stops short of his obsession.
If you want to buy Can't Hurt Me, it's on Amazon for $2.99 (July 2019).
But we know one thing — in our quest on Discover Discomfort to be single-minded about many important things, one at a time, we're on the right path.