Your Game Plan To Building Mental Muscle With David Goggins

David Goggins

Nov 26, 2021

David Goggins isn’t known for moderation. He’s known for big goals. Brutal truths. Intense physical and mental development. 

David Goggins is a US retired Navy Seal and exceptional endurance athlete with a powerful message. He’s motivated millions of people to challenge themselves. He is the only member of the U.S. Armed forces to complete Navy Seal training, Air Force Tactical Air Controller training, and U.S. Army Ranger School. 

He wasn’t always this mentally tough. We’ve compiled three of the many rules David Goggins has applied to turn his entire life around.

1. Become a Practitioner Not a Theorist

An incessant underachiever, one day David decided he had enough. 

“Here I am listening to the TV as I’m showering, and this particular day, I started hearing: ‘Navy SEALs. Toughest training.’ I was hearing it cut out between the water hitting my ears.”

That’s when he realized: “I didn’t want to sit back and continually watch these shows about great people doing amazing things. I wanted that feeling in my head that I believed that they had: of true accomplishment.” 

 Almost overnight, he changed from a lazy slacker to calling Navy recruiters. Unfortunately, none of them believed that this 6’1 nearly 300-pound guy was SEAL material. Finally, one headhunter gave him a chance, but he had to shed 100 pounds and pass a knowledge test in 3 months.

Up onto this point, David had been sleeping on his potential. He realized he couldn’t just keep watching and learning about other people. A theorist studies. A practitioner figures out how to figure it out. David Goggins dove into hell instead of reading about it. He figured it out by not quitting.

David is a Guinness World Record holder for completing 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours. However, he didn’t get there by reading about how to perform the most pull-ups. Instead, he achieved the record by going out and doing.

Entrepreneurial life mirrors this mindset. To build a successful business, you have to go out and start doing things. You have to develop a game plan and stick to it, no matter the bumps along the way.

2. Embrace the Suck

“Do something that sucks every day of your life. That’s how you grow. Embrace the suck.” — David Goggins

During Navy SEAL training, trainers tell students to “embrace the suck.” It’s a phrase the military has used for years, but we can apply that same philosophy to our business and personal lives too. This phrase conveys the one vital lesson for anyone to learn: embrace suffering and get comfortable being uncomfortable. 

Everything in life is temporary. Being miserable is temporary because you’re going to figure out the next way to overcome it. It’s easy to avoid pain and stay in our comfort zone. Growth, though, is found in the discomfort zone. Without friction, frustration, or anxiety, there’s no growth. 

The 40% rule is one of the most important lessons that Itzler learned from Goggins. Goggins explained to Itzler that he only used 40% of his potential — even when he thought he was performing at his peak.

According to Itzler:

“People stick to what’s comfortable. But when you leave that zone, that’s where you find real results and see what you are capable of.”

You have no idea how powerful you are until you leave your comfort zone. So take every chance that comes up to challenge yourself and push your limits.

What would it look like in your own life and business processes to “embrace the suck”?

3. Master Mental Toughness

“The more things I found comfortable, the more uncomfortable my mind was.” — David Goggins

It’s essential to master your mind. It’s crucial to callous your mind. However, after years of lifting weights, calluses form on your palms, and pushing barbells no longer hurts.

Developing a calloused mind is about taking the challenging route, doing the stuff that sucks, and building good habits. 

“There’s no growth if you don’t sit at home thinking sh*t man I need that in my life. We’re all looking to become Yoda, and it’s really just mastering your own mind and realizing why do these things bother me? They really shouldn’t bother me.”

“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.” — David Goggins.

Finding the road of most resistance isn’t something people typically look for. Sometimes, people find success on the road of least resistance, but the type of success that leads to a calloused mind and absolute mastery over yourself can put your mind at peace. 

Only with a calloused mind and absolute mastery over yourself can you put your mind at peace. This requires hard work to achieve.

“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.” — David Goggins

No one is coming to save you. You are the only one who can protect yourself. This requires you to race you. As Luke found out on Dagobah, your greatest enemy is always the older version of you. The mastery of your mind is needed if you want to emerge on top.

Acknowledging that life is suffering will allow you to take control of your existence. Don’t take the path of least resistance. Instead, work on becoming a practitioner, embracing the suck, and mastering your mind. 

If you need some motivation to get your backside off the sofa and out the door, look no further than this animated video with David Goggins and James Altucher. 

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Anna Klawitter