David Goggins (born February 17, 1975) is an American ultramarathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, motivational speaker, and author. He is a retired United States Navy SEAL and former United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party member who served in the Iraq War. His self-help memoir, Can’t Hurt Me, was released in 2018.
David Goggins is one of my favourite endurance athlete, he lives is truth and his book Can’t Hurt Me, was very inspiring. Goggins has completed over 60 ultra-marathons, triathlons, and ultra-triathlons, setting new course records and regularly placing in the top five. He once held the Guinness World Record for pull-ups completing 4,030 in 17 hours.
The only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, he went on to set records in numerous endurance events, inspiring Outside Magazine to name him “The Fittest (Real) Man in America.”
In his book Can’t Hurt Me, he shares his astonishing life story and reveals that most of us only tap into 40% of our capabilities. Goggins calls this the 40% Rule, and his story illuminates a path that anyone can follow to push past pain, demolish fear, and reach their full potential.
The 40% Rule
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 limits the flow of fuel and air so it doesn’t burn too hot, which places a ceiling on performance. It’s a hardware issue; the governor can easily be removed, and 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. I call this The 40% Rule, and the reason it’s so powerful is that if you follow it, you will unlock your mind to new levels of performance and excellence in sports and in life, and your rewards will run far deeper than mere material success.
The 40% Rule can be applied to everything we do. Because in life almost nothing will turn out exactly as we hope. There are always challenges, and whether we are at work or school, or feeling tested within our most intimate or important relationships, we will all be tempted to walk away from commitments, give up on our goals and dreams, and sell our own happiness short at some point. Because we will feel empty, like we have no more to give, when we haven’t tapped even half of the treasure buried deep in our minds, hearts, and souls.
The Accountability Mirror
You could be on the cusp of retirement, looking to reinvent yourself. Maybe you’re going through a bad break-up or have gained weight. Perhaps you’re permanently disabled, overcoming some other injury, or are just coming to grips with how much of your life you’ve wasted, living without purpose. In each case, that negativity you’re feeling is your internal desire for change, but change doesn’t come easy, and the reason this ritual worked so well for me was because of my tone.
Whatever your goal, you’ll need to hold yourself accountable for the small steps it will take to get there. Self-improvement takes dedication and self-discipline. The dirty mirror you see every day is going to reveal the truth. Stop ignoring it. Use it to your advantage.
My work ethic is the single most important factor in all of my accomplishments. Everything else is secondary, and when it comes to hard work, whether in the gym or on the job, The 40% Rule applies. To me, a forty-hour work week is a 40 percent effort. It may be satisfactory, but that’s another word for mediocrity. Don’t settle for a forty-hour work week. There are 168 hours in a week! That means you have the hours to put in that extra time at work without skimping on your exercise. It means streamlining your nutrition, spending quality time with your wife and kids. It means scheduling your life like you’re on a twenty-four-hour mission every single day.
The number one excuse I hear from people as to why they don’t work out as much as they want to is that they don’t have time. Look, we all have work obligations, none of us want to lose sleep, and you’ll need time with the family or they’ll trip the fuck out. I get it, and if that’s your situation, you must win the morning.
Evaluate your life in its totality! We all waste so much time doing meaningless bullshit. We burn hours on social media and watching television, which by the end of the year would add up to entire days and weeks if you tabulated time like you do your taxes. You should, because if you knew the truth you’d deactivate your Facebook account STAT, and cut your cable. When you find yourself having frivolous conversations or becoming ensnared in activities that don’t better you in any way, move the fuck on!
For years I’ve lived like a monk. I don’t see or spend time with a lot of people. My circle is very tight. I post on social media once or twice a week and I never check anybody else’s feeds because I don’t follow anyone. That’s just me. I’m not saying you need to be that unforgiving, because you and I probably don’t share the same goals. But I know you have goals too, and room for improvement, or you wouldn’t be reading my book, and I guarantee that if you audited your schedule you’d find time for more work and less bullshit.
All the Best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.