From nothing to a Navy SEAL: David Goggins and mental toughness

I’ve been going through the new book “Can’t hurt me: master your mind and defy the odds” by David Goggins.

I’m about halfway through the book, and I’ve really enjoyed it. Earlier this fall, I saw some interviews Goggins had done, and I was intrigued by his story, but the book gives so much more elaboration.

(Spoiler Alert)

In previous interviews I’ve seen, Goggins talks about having been overweight (just under 300 pounds). He had no goals, no accomplishments, and was unhappy with where he had come, while working an unfulfilling job. He had previously tried to join an elite unit within the Air Force but a genetic condition gave him an easy out to quit.

After one particularly bad day at work, Goggins had a change of heart and decided he was going to become a Navy SEAL. In three months, he trained for the SEALS, lost 106 pounds, and improved ASVAB scores to be able to go to Navy SEAL training (BUDS).

If you read the book, you see that he didn’t have great advantages. He grew up with a physically and emotionally abusive father. As a young kid, he basically had to work a full time job and he fell far behind in school. He had to resort to cheating to keep passing grades. His mother left his father, and spent years struggling to make ends meat. Later, his mother met a man whom they loved but who was murdered. Spending most of his childhood in a small town in rural Indiana, as a minority, he faced racism.

He struggled academically and often cheated to get by. This would eventually hurt him as he got far behind academically.

In the book, Goggins doesn’t believe in using those disadvantages as an excuse.  Instead, Goggins talks about in this book is the importance of taking ownership of our disadvantages, flaws and failures.

We love to look at people like a David Goggins and think they’re special, and have things the rest of us don’t have. There’s also a lot he didn’t have.

Goggins doesn’t believe in using those things as excuses. It’s a pretty vulnerable book. He talks of the struggles and fears he battled.

He talks a lot about mental toughness and how our mental ability to overcome challenges and setbacks is something we are all capable of. He talks about how we all need to find ways to push ourselves. For Goggins, it was joining the Navy SEALs and becoming an ultra marathoner. We don’t all need to go that route. But if we don’t challenge ourselves, we also won’t grow.

There is a lot of language in the book. Reader discretion is advised.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think, and don’t forget to subscribe! 

Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.

Let’s connect!