Can't Hurt Me

by David Goggins

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: May 29, 2024
Can't Hurt Me
Can't Hurt Me

Discover the mental toughness secrets in "Can't Hurt Me" - a transformative book summary with practical strategies to unlock your full potential. Apply the 40% Rule, Cookie Jar Technique, and more for lasting change.

What are the big ideas?

Callousing the Mind

Goggins teaches the method of hardening one's mindset by systematically facing and overcoming challenges, viewing each hardship not as an obstacle but as a critical element in building mental resilience and toughness.

Repeatedly pushing his physical limits, using past adversities as fuel.

The 40% Rule

Goggins introduces the idea that most people only utilize 40% of their potential, asserting that pushing past mental barriers unlocks the remaining 60%, suggesting that limits are often self-imposed.

Using intense physical challenges as a method to break through mental barriers and tap deeper into potential.

The Cookie Jar Technique

This mental tool involves drawing on past successes and achievements stored in one's 'Cookie Jar' to overcome current challenges, reinforcing self-belief and resilience in tough times.

Recalling past endurance events to push through new physical challenges.

Accountability Mirror

A self-reflection strategy where Goggins uses literal and figurative mirrors to enforce accountability, encourage honest self-assessment, and set specific, challenging goals.

Setting daily tasks and long-term goals while confronting personal weaknesses and failures head-on in the mirror.

Embracing the Suck

A philosophy of actively seeking discomfort as a pathway to growth, where Goggins argues that embracing painful experiences is essential for developing toughness and achieving high goals.

Choosing to run in the same areas where he experienced traumas, to confront and overcome his fears.

No Finish Line

Goggins views personal development and the pursuit of excellence as an ongoing, never-ending journey, promoting a philosophy of continuous self-improvement and lifelong learning.

Constantly setting new, harder physical challenges well into his military and athletic career.

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Callousing the Mind

Callous Your Mind Through Adversity

Hardship is the crucible that forges mental toughness. By systematically facing and overcoming challenges, you can callous your mind - building resilience and the ability to push past your limits.

View each obstacle not as a barrier, but as an opportunity to strengthen your mindset. Use past adversities as fuel to power through current difficulties. Embrace the pain and suffering of physical training as a means to master your inner dialogue and boost confidence.

The more you push past your normal stopping point, the more you'll expand your perceived limitations. Start small - go 5-10% further than your usual limit. Gradually increase the challenge over time. This gradual ramp-up prevents injury while allowing your mind and body to adapt.

Mastering your mental game is key. When the pain and doubt set in, have ready answers to the question "Why am I here?" Visualize potential challenges ahead of time so you're prepared to overcome them. Smile at the pain and watch it fade - those seconds of mental fortitude can make all the difference.

Callous your mind through systematic, incremental exposure to adversity. The mental toughness you develop will carry over to every aspect of your life, unlocking your true potential.

Here are specific examples from the context that support the key insight of callousing the mind:

  • Goggins describes how he tapped into a "calloused mind" during a grueling pool workout, allowing him to push past pain and limitations: "I was putting out harder than ever, breaking through the limitations of injury and pain tolerance, and riding a second wind delivered by a calloused mind."

  • Remembering past hardships and how they strengthened his mindset helped Goggins "bypass those weak, one-second impulses to give in so you can power through obstacles." This allowed him to engage his "sympathetic nervous system" and access an extra burst of energy.

  • Visualizing potential challenges ahead of a race and preparing mentally to overcome them is key to "controlling your thought process" when the pain and doubt set in. Goggins would "drive the entire course first, visualizing success but also potential challenges" to be as prepared as possible.

  • Developing a "calloused mind" through relentless self-discipline and "scheduling suffering into your day, every day" allows you to access a "whole other life" on the other side of that suffering.

  • During Hell Week training, Goggins tapped into his "inner beast" and became "unbreakable" by facing extreme physical and mental challenges, like the hypothermic open-water swim to find his boat in a storm. This allowed him to outlast and "take the soul" of his instructors.

The key is systematically pushing past your normal limits, using past hardships as fuel, and visualizing challenges to build an unbreakable, "calloused" mindset that allows you to overcome any obstacle.

The 40% Rule

The 40% Rule is a powerful concept that challenges the notion of human limitations. It suggests that most people only access about 40% of their true potential, with the remaining 60% lying dormant, waiting to be unlocked.

The key is to push past the mental barriers that hold us back. When we face intense physical challenges, our minds often beg us to quit, telling us we've reached our limit. But by pushing just 5-10% further, we can break through that mental block and tap into the hidden reserves of strength and resilience within us.

This process of gradually increasing our physical and mental thresholds is crucial. It allows our bodies and minds to adapt, resetting our baselines and paving the way for even greater achievements. As we callous our minds through this process, we develop an unshakable confidence that carries over to every aspect of our lives.

The truth is, life is a constant mind game, and the only opponent we face is ourselves. By embracing the 40% Rule and relentlessly pushing our limits, we can shatter the perceived barriers that hold us back and unlock our true potential. It's a powerful realization that can transform our lives, one challenge at a time.

Here are specific examples from the context that support the key insight of the 40% Rule:

  • Goggins' first run in 1999 was only a quarter mile, but by 2007 he was able to run 205 miles nonstop. This gradual increase in physical capacity demonstrates how pushing past mental barriers can unlock greater potential.

  • Goggins encourages the reader to "push just 5 to 10 percent further" beyond their normal stopping point, whether running or doing push-ups. This slow, incremental increase helps the body and mind adapt to the new workload.

  • During the Hurt 100 race, Goggins hit a wall at 40% but was able to push through the intense pain and fatigue to complete the fourth lap, realizing the power of a "calloused mind" to overcome mental limits.

  • Goggins describes how the sympathetic nervous system can be activated when you manage the pain and negative self-talk, allowing you to tap into an extra burst of energy and effort.

  • When facing challenges at work or school, Goggins emphasizes the importance of managing doubt and negative thoughts, rather than letting them control your actions. Remembering past difficulties overcome can help shift your mindset.

  • The boat press exercise during SEAL training exemplifies how Goggins was able to push past his perceived limits by tapping into his calloused mind, allowing him to outlast his instructors.

  • Even when faced with a serious knee injury that threatened to end his SEAL training, Goggins had to confront his fear and uncertainty about continuing, ultimately deciding to push forward despite the pain.

The key insight is that by consistently challenging yourself physically and mentally, you can expand your perceived limits and access greater reserves of potential that are often untapped. The examples illustrate how Goggins applied this principle through his extreme endurance challenges and SEAL training.

The Cookie Jar Technique is a powerful mental tool to overcome challenges. It involves recalling and reconnecting with your past successes and achievements. These past victories, no matter how big or small, are stored in your personal "Cookie Jar". When faced with a difficult task or obstacle, you can reach into this jar and draw upon the emotional energy and self-belief from those prior accomplishments.

For example, if you're struggling through a grueling workout, you can tap into the memory of when you lost 5 pounds or ran your first mile. Reliving those small wins can reignite your motivation and determination to push past the current pain or discomfort. The Cookie Jar technique helps you reframe your mindset from "I can't" to "I've done this before, I can do it again."

This mental strategy is especially effective for physical challenges like endurance events. By visualizing your past triumphs - whether it's completing a marathon or setting a new personal best - you can access that same resilience and self-confidence to conquer your current goal. The Cookie Jar becomes a wellspring of motivation that you can tap into whenever you need an extra boost.

The key is to truly feel and re-experience those past successes, not just recall them intellectually. This activates your sympathetic nervous system, releasing adrenaline and endorphins to help you power through. With practice, the Cookie Jar technique can become a reliable way to overcome any obstacle by reminding you of your innate capabilities and past achievements.

Examples from the Context to support the Key Insight:

  • The protagonist recalls past achievements and struggles he overcame, such as:

    • Quitting smoking
    • Overcoming depression
    • Overcoming a stutter
    • Losing 100 pounds in under 3 months
    • Graduating BUD/S at the top of his class
    • Being named Enlisted Honor Man in Army Ranger School
  • He refers to these past successes as "cookies" stored in his "Cookie Jar" that he can draw upon for motivation and resilience.

  • For example, when he was struggling during the 101-mile ultramarathon, he tapped into the emotional states he felt during past victories, which helped him regain his pace and push through the pain.

  • The protagonist emphasizes that even small accomplishments, like losing 5 pounds or understanding a full paragraph when learning to read, can serve as "cookies" to fuel bigger successes.

  • He encourages the reader to identify their own "Cookie Jar" of past victories, no matter how small, and to actively revisit and savor those memories to overcome current challenges.

Accountability Mirror

The Accountability Mirror is a powerful self-reflection strategy that Goggins uses to drive personal growth and transformation. The core idea is to confront yourself honestly in the mirror, acknowledging your weaknesses, failures, and insecurities head-on. This raw, unfiltered self-assessment is the first step towards meaningful change.

Goggins takes this a step further by using the mirror as a tool to set specific, challenging goals. He writes these goals on Post-It notes and sticks them to the mirror, creating a visual reminder and accountability system. Whether it's losing weight, improving education, or achieving a physical feat, the Accountability Mirror keeps Goggins focused and motivated.

The key is to avoid sugarcoating or ego-stroking. Goggins encourages being "cruel" to yourself in these moments, because developing thicker skin and a stronger mindset is essential for improvement. By facing the hard truths about yourself, you can turn that negativity into "jet fuel" to power your progress.

The Accountability Mirror is not about self-love or feel-good affirmations. It's about shedding the ego, getting real, and taking radical responsibility for your life. This honest, no-nonsense approach is what allows Goggins to achieve remarkable feats of physical and mental toughness that most people would consider impossible.

Here are specific examples from the context that support the key insight of the Accountability Mirror:

  • Goggins describes using "Post-It notes on my Accountability Mirror" to write down his "insecurities, dreams, and goals" and hold himself accountable.

  • He instructs the reader to "Write all your insecurities, dreams, and goals on Post-Its and tag up your mirror" as a way to "come eyeball to eyeball with yourself, and get raw and real."

  • Goggins emphasizes the importance of being "truthful with yourself about where you are and the necessary steps it will take to achieve those goals, day by day" by breaking them down into smaller, measurable steps on the mirror.

  • He encourages the reader to "Own it!" and "Tell the truth" about their weaknesses and shortcomings, whether it's being "fat" or "dumb", rather than avoiding the hard truth.

  • Goggins credits the "Accountability Mirror" for keeping him "on point" and helping him develop the self-discipline and mental toughness to achieve his goals, like passing the ASVAB exam.

  • The mirror serves as a constant reminder to "face that mirror, face myself" and push through discomfort and adversity to become a "tougher" and "more resilient" version of himself.

The key terms and concepts illustrated here are the Accountability Mirror, self-assessment, goal-setting, self-honesty, and mental toughness. Goggins uses the physical mirror as a tool for enforcing accountability and driving personal transformation through direct confrontation with one's weaknesses and the necessary steps for improvement.

Embracing the Suck

Embrace the Suck: Seek out discomfort and pain as a path to growth and achievement. This is the core philosophy that drives Goggins' approach to life.

The idea is simple - by actively choosing to confront your fears and push past your limits, you develop true mental and physical toughness. This means deliberately putting yourself in challenging situations, even revisiting past traumas, in order to confront and overcome them.

It's not about passively enduring hardship, but actively seeking it out. This could mean running in the same areas that once caused you pain, or pushing your body to its absolute limits through grueling physical challenges. The key is to lean into the discomfort, to "embrace the suck", as Goggins puts it.

Through this process of embracing the suck, you develop an unbreakable mindset - one that allows you to achieve goals and push past barriers that may have once seemed impossible. It's about redefining your own limits and capabilities, transforming yourself into the best version of who you can be.

Here are specific examples from the context that support the key insight of embracing the suck:

  • Taking Souls: Goggins describes this as a "ticket to finding your own reserve power and riding a second wind" - it involves actively seeking out challenges and discomfort to push past your limits. Examples include:
    • Stealing the Hell Week schedule to gain a tactical advantage over the instructors
    • Making a show of himself in the surf, "humbling the Platoon theme song" to empower himself
    • Laughing at his own weaknesses to disempower bullies and competitors
  • Gradual Ramp-Up: Goggins advises pushing 5-10% past your normal limits in physical challenges, gradually increasing the discomfort to "slowly remove the governor from your brain" and build mental toughness.
  • Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone: Goggins instructs readers to regularly do things that make them uncomfortable, even if it's as simple as making the bed or running a few extra miles. The key is to "dig down to the micro level and do something that sucks every day."
  • Visualization and Preparation: Goggins emphasizes the importance of visualizing challenges and preparing mentally, so you can "control your thought process" when facing pain and doubt. This allows you to channel your "darkness" and lean on your "calloused mind."

The overarching theme is that Goggins believes actively embracing discomfort, pain, and challenges is essential for developing the mental toughness and resilience needed to achieve extraordinary goals. By consistently pushing past your limits, you can expand what you believe is possible.

No Finish Line

There is no finish line in life. The journey of personal growth and excellence is an endless pursuit, not a destination to be reached. Goggins embodies this philosophy, constantly challenging himself to new, greater feats even as he achieves remarkable physical and mental accomplishments.

This mindset of continuous self-improvement is crucial. It means never becoming complacent, never settling for the status quo. There is always room to grow, to push past your perceived limits, to become an even better version of yourself. This relentless drive is what separates the exceptional from the ordinary.

Goggins demonstrates this through his unwavering commitment to testing his own boundaries. Even after achieving incredible physical feats, he immediately sets his sights on the next challenge, the next opportunity to grow. There is no finish line, only the next step forward. This mentality of perpetual progress is the key to unlocking your full potential.

Here are specific examples from the context that support the key insight that Goggins views personal development and the pursuit of excellence as an ongoing, never-ending journey:

  • "There is no finish line, Goggins. There is no finish line." This quote directly expresses Goggins' belief that there is no endpoint to self-improvement and pushing one's limits.

  • Goggins describes how he went from running a quarter mile in 1999 when he weighed 297 pounds, to running 205 miles nonstop in 39 hours in 2007. This shows his relentless drive to continuously push his physical limits over many years.

  • Goggins encourages the reader to "gradually ramp-up" their physical challenges, increasing their workload by 5-10% each week. This demonstrates his philosophy of steady, incremental progress without end.

  • When preparing for the Ultraman triathlon, Goggins says "In my mind, I still hadn't achieved shit." This indicates his belief that there is always more work to be done, no matter one's past accomplishments.

  • Goggins states "The bottom line is that life is one big mind game. The only person you are playing against is yourself." This reinforces the idea that personal development is an ongoing internal battle, not a finite competition against others.

  • When discussing "Taking Souls" and defeating opponents, Goggins emphasizes the importance of "knowing the terrain" and "knowing your adversary in detail." This suggests a never-ending process of studying, strategizing, and adapting to new challenges.


Let's take a look at some key quotes from "Can't Hurt Me" that resonated with readers.

You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft, that you will die without ever realizing your true potential.

Living a life of excessive comfort and ease can be detrimental to personal growth. Without challenges, one may never discover their true capabilities and potential. As a result, they may miss out on opportunities for self-improvement and settle for mediocrity. This can ultimately lead to a life of unrealized dreams and unfulfilled aspirations.

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.

In today's society, people often seek shortcuts to success, believing that with minimal effort, they can achieve great results. However, this approach may bring some superficial success, but it will not lead to true mastery or self-control. To truly excel, one must be willing to put in the hard work and effort required to develop a strong and resilient mindset.

It won’t always go your way, so you can’t get trapped in this idea that just because you’ve imagined a possibility for yourself that you somehow deserve it. Your entitled mind is dead weight. Cut it loose. Don’t focus on what you think you deserve. Take aim on what you are willing to earn!

Having high expectations and a sense of entitlement can hold you back from achieving your goals. Instead of focusing on what you think you deserve, it's essential to concentrate on what you're willing to work hard for. This mindset shift helps you stay grounded and motivated, allowing you to earn your accomplishments through dedication and perseverance.

Comprehension Questions

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How well do you understand the key insights in "Can't Hurt Me"? Find out by answering the questions below. Try to answer the question yourself before revealing the answer! Mark the questions as done once you've answered them.

1. How does facing adversity contribute to mental toughness?
2. What is the importance of using past adversities as fuel in overcoming current difficulties?
3. How can visualizing potential challenges help in building mental fortitude?
4. What does it mean to 'callous your mind' through incremental exposure to adversity?
5. Why might one strategically ramp up the level of challenge over time instead of facing the most extreme adversity at once?
6. What does the 40% Rule illustrate about human potential?
7. How can one increase their physical and mental thresholds according to the concept discussed?
8. What are the benefits of developing a 'calloused mind'?
9. Describe the role of managing doubt and negative self-talk in achieving greater potential.
10. What happens when you challenge yourself consistently in tough situations?
11. What is the purpose of the Cookie Jar Technique in overcoming challenges?
12. How does recalling past achievements help during physically demanding tasks?
13. Why is it important to feel the emotions associated with past successes when using the Cookie Jar Technique?
14. What types of accomplishments should be stored in the Cookie Jar?
15. What is the core idea behind using a mirror for self-reflection in personal growth strategies?
16. How does physically writing goals on a mirror aid in personal development?
17. What is the significance of being 'cruel' to oneself during self-assessment according to this strategy?
18. Why is the mirror used as a tool not associated with self-love or feel-good affirmations in this context?
19. How can confronting negative aspects about oneself in the mirror serve as motivation for improvement?
20. What is the fundamental philosophy behind actively seeking discomfort and pain?
21. How can repeated exposure to challenging situations affect an individual's mental toughness?
22. What are the benefits of pushing your body and mind beyond their normal limits regularly?
23. What role does visualization play in preparing for difficult challenges?
24. What does the concept of 'no finish line' suggest about personal growth?
25. Why is the mindset of continuous self-improvement important?
26. How does setting new goals after achieving previous ones relate to the idea of endless pursuit?
27. What impact might the belief that there is always more to achieve have on an individual's performance in different areas of life?
28. Can the process of incremental progress be considered limitless, and why?

Action Questions

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"Knowledge without application is useless," Bruce Lee said. Answer the questions below to practice applying the key insights from "Can't Hurt Me". Mark the questions as done once you've answered them.

1. What are some specific challenges you can introduce into your daily or weekly routine to gradually increase your mental toughness?
2. How can you prepare mentally for upcoming events that you anticipate will be difficult or stressful?
3. What is one area in your life where you consistently feel limited by your mental or physical capabilities? Set a goal to push beyond this perceived limit by 5 to 10 percent over the next month.
4. What are some past successes or challenges you have overcome that you could add to your personal 'Cookie Jar' to draw motivation from in future difficult situations?
5. How can you use memories of past achievements to push through a current challenge you are facing?
6. How can you create your own Accountability Mirror to address personal challenges and set ambitious goals?
7. What are the benefits of adopting a brutally honest self-assessment practice, and how can you implement it in your daily routine?
8. How can challenging yourself in uncomfortable settings weekly lead to personal growth?
9. What are some daily discomforts you can introduce into your routine to build a resilient mindset?
10. How can you challenge yourself this week to step beyond your current comfort zone in a noticeable way?
11. What new skill or area of knowledge could you start exploring today to ensure continual personal growth?

Chapter Notes


  • Denial of True Potential: Many people are unaware of their true potential, living in a "victim's mentality" and embracing comfort instead of facing reality.

  • Overcoming Adversity: The author overcame a difficult upbringing, including poverty, racism, and depression, to transform himself into the "hardest man God ever created."

  • Genetic Limitations: A professor at MIT claimed that there are genetic limitations that cannot be overcome through mental toughness, but the author disagrees, believing that the "1 percent" can defy the odds through hard work and an "armored mind."

  • Self-Mastery and Potential: The author believes that anyone can become a "totally different person" and achieve what experts claim is impossible, but it requires mastering one's mind, facing reality, and pushing past pain and fear.

  • Fuel for Metamorphosis: Challenges and adversity, such as racism, injuries, or poverty, can be used as "fuel for your metamorphosis" and the path to self-mastery and reaching one's full potential.

  • Evolutionary Algorithm: The steps outlined in the book are described as an "evolutionary algorithm" that can "obliterate barriers, glimmer with glory, and deliver lasting peace."

  • Readiness for Change: The author encourages the reader to be "ready" to "go to war with yourself" and embark on the journey of self-discovery and transformation.


  • The author, David Goggins, grew up in a dysfunctional and abusive household, with a father who was a violent criminal and a mother who was trapped in the relationship due to financial dependence.

  • The author and his brother were forced to work long hours at their father's roller skating rink, Skateland, from a young age, and were subjected to physical and emotional abuse on a regular basis.

  • The author's academic performance suffered due to the trauma and lack of stability in his home life, leading to him being held back a grade and struggling with learning disabilities.

  • The author's mother eventually escaped the abusive relationship and moved the family to a small town in Indiana, where the author faced new challenges in school and social anxiety.

  • The author resorted to cheating in school as a coping mechanism, realizing that he would never catch up academically without intervention, and faced the risk of being labeled as a "special" or "at-risk" student.

  • The author's experiences with toxic stress and abuse as a child are shown to have long-term negative impacts on physical and mental health, as well as increased risks of delinquency and criminal behavior.

  • The author's resilience and determination to overcome his difficult upbringing are highlighted, setting the stage for his later success and transformation.


  • Overcoming Adversity: The protagonist, David, faced numerous challenges growing up, including poverty, trauma, racism, and lack of academic success. However, he was able to overcome these obstacles through sheer determination, self-discipline, and a commitment to personal accountability.

  • The Accountability Mirror: The protagonist developed a ritual of shaving his face and head while delivering a harsh, honest self-assessment in front of a mirror. This "Accountability Mirror" became a tool for him to set goals, track his progress, and hold himself accountable for his actions and personal growth.

  • Embracing Discomfort: The protagonist learned to embrace discomfort and challenge himself physically and mentally. He would intentionally put himself in uncomfortable situations, such as running through the same area where he had been threatened with a gun, in order to confront and overcome his fears.

  • Memorization and Repetition: The protagonist struggled with academics, but he developed a system of memorization and repetition to improve his reading, writing, and math skills. This allowed him to go from a fourth-grade reading level to a high school senior level in just six months.

  • Reframing Negative Experiences: The protagonist learned to reframe the negative experiences he faced, such as racism and discrimination, as a reflection of the insecurities and shortcomings of those who targeted him, rather than his own worth. This shift in perspective helped him to move forward and focus on his own personal growth.

  • Perseverance and Resilience: Despite numerous setbacks and challenges, the protagonist remained determined to achieve his goal of joining the Air Force. He persevered through failures, such as repeatedly failing the ASVAB test, and developed the resilience necessary to overcome these obstacles.

  • The Importance of Purpose: The protagonist's newfound sense of purpose, driven by his desire to join the Air Force, was a key factor in his transformation. This purpose provided him with the motivation and focus to make the necessary changes in his life.


  • Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt: The chapter chronicles the author's journey of overcoming his fear and self-doubt, which had held him back from pursuing his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL. Despite facing numerous obstacles and setbacks, he was determined to push through and achieve his goal.

  • Importance of Embracing Discomfort: The author emphasizes the importance of stepping outside one's comfort zone and embracing discomfort as a means of personal growth and development. He describes his intense physical and mental training regimen, which involved pushing himself to the brink of exhaustion and enduring extreme conditions, as a way to build resilience and mental toughness.

  • Developing a Relentless Mindset: The author's transformation from a self-described "would-be warrior turned cockroach sniper" to a determined and driven individual was driven by his ability to cultivate a relentless mindset. He refused to give up, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, and was willing to endure immense physical and emotional pain to achieve his goals.

  • Overcoming Limitations: The author challenges the notion that physical and mental limitations are inherent and unbreakable. He demonstrates that by pushing past his own perceived limitations, he was able to achieve feats that he previously thought were impossible, such as passing the ASVAB test and excelling in his physical training.

  • Importance of Accountability and Discipline: The author's success was largely due to his unwavering commitment to his training regimen and his willingness to hold himself accountable for every missed rep, lap, or pull-up. He recognized that there were no shortcuts to achieving his goals and that he had to be willing to suffer in the moment to reap the long-term benefits.

  • Overcoming Adversity and Failure: The author's journey was marked by numerous setbacks and failures, including his initial failure to complete the Pararescue training program. However, he refused to let these failures define him and instead used them as opportunities to learn and grow, ultimately emerging stronger and more determined than ever.

  • Importance of Mentorship and Support: The author's success was also facilitated by the support and guidance of his Navy recruiter, Petty Officer Steven Schaljo, who believed in him and helped him navigate the process of re-enlisting and qualifying for the Navy SEAL program.


  • Taking Souls: This is a mental tactic where the narrator gains a tactical advantage over his opponents by occupying space in their minds, making them think about him and his actions. This can be done through acts of defiance, humor, or helping the opponent, depending on the situation.

  • Knowing the Terrain: To effectively deploy the Taking Souls tactic, one must understand the environment they are operating in and the boundaries they can push. This allows them to find the right approach to gain the upper hand.

  • Knowing Yourself and Your Opponent: Thoroughly understanding your own strengths, weaknesses, and insecurities, as well as those of your opponent, is crucial to shaping the mental game in your favor.

  • Staying Power: The ability to endure physical and emotional anguish is key to outlasting your opponent and catching a "second wind" that can turn the tide of the competition.

  • Embracing the Challenge: The narrator saw his struggles in BUD/S training not as obstacles to overcome, but as opportunities to prove his worth and transform himself. This mindset allowed him to find strength in adversity.

  • Teamwork and Leadership: The narrator's ability to motivate and unite his boat crew, even in the face of extreme hardship, was a critical factor in their success during Hell Week.

  • Preparation and Resourcefulness: The narrator's efforts to obtain the training schedule and develop a plan to counter the instructors' tactics demonstrate the importance of being proactive and creative in the face of challenges.

  • Perseverance and Resilience: The narrator's determination to continue pushing forward, even when faced with setbacks and medical issues, exemplifies the mental toughness required to succeed in the most demanding environments.


  • Callousing the Mind: The author learned to callous his mind through facing and overcoming hardships and challenges, which allowed him to push through pain and adversity. Callousing the mind involves accepting and making peace with one's past, rather than rejecting or denying it, and using those experiences as fuel for growth and resilience.

  • Sympathetic Nervous System Response: When the author was able to manage his pain and negative thoughts, he was able to tap into the sympathetic nervous system, which provided him with an adrenaline-fueled surge of energy and focus that allowed him to push past his limits.

  • Controlling Doubt and Negative Self-Talk: The author emphasizes the importance of controlling and managing doubt and negative self-talk, rather than allowing them to take over and dictate one's actions. He suggests that remembering past accomplishments and challenges overcome can help shift the internal dialogue and maintain a positive, determined mindset.

  • Visualization and Preparation: The author advocates for the use of visualization, not just to imagine success, but also to anticipate and prepare for potential challenges. By driving the course or visualizing the obstacles ahead of time, one can be better equipped to handle them when they arise.

  • Embracing and Accepting One's Past: A key aspect of the author's journey was coming to terms with and accepting his difficult past, rather than trying to ignore or run from it. By acknowledging and making peace with his past experiences, he was able to use them as a source of strength and resilience.

  • Perseverance and Pushing Through Pain: The author's ability to push through extreme physical pain and discomfort, such as running on broken legs, was a testament to his mental fortitude and unwillingness to quit. He emphasizes the importance of embracing and enduring pain as a means of personal growth and development.

  • Importance of a Calloused Mindset in Challenging Environments: The author's experiences in BUD/S training highlighted the critical role of a calloused, resilient mindset in thriving in highly demanding and stressful environments. His ability to manage his thoughts and emotions allowed him to excel where others faltered.


  • The Cookie Jar: This is a concept Goggins uses to tap into his past accomplishments and small victories to fuel him through difficult challenges. The Cookie Jar represents the emotional state and feelings of accomplishment he experienced during past successes, which he can draw upon to push through pain and self-doubt in the present.

  • Celebrating Small Victories: Goggins emphasizes the importance of savoring and celebrating even small accomplishments, as these serve as the "kindling" to build up to larger goals and achievements. He encourages readers to not just enjoy their wins in the moment, but to revisit and re-experience those feelings of success to motivate themselves.

  • Overcoming Obstacles through Mindset: Goggins' ability to push through the immense physical and mental pain of the 101-mile race was driven by his mindset and determination, not physical training. He tapped into his past victories stored in the Cookie Jar to override the brain's natural desire to quit when faced with extreme suffering.

  • Redefining Limits: By accomplishing a 101-mile race with zero training, Goggins realized that the human body and mind are capable of far more than most people believe. This experience showed him that there are new levels of performance to tap into by challenging conventional limits.

  • Importance of Preparation: While Goggins was able to push through the 101-mile race with sheer willpower, he acknowledges that proper training and preparation would have allowed him to perform even better. He sees this experience as a stepping stone to what he can achieve with dedicated training.

  • Giving Back: Goggins' motivation for attempting the 101-mile race was to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which supports the families of fallen special operations soldiers. This altruistic purpose helped drive him through the immense physical and mental anguish of the challenge.


  • The 40% Rule: The human body and mind have a "governor" that limits our performance to around 40% of our true potential. By pushing past this perceived limit, we can access the remaining 60% and achieve extraordinary feats.

  • Visualization and Preparation: Thoroughly visualizing and preparing for challenges, both physically and mentally, is crucial to overcoming them. This includes researching, mapping out, and simulating the challenges ahead.

  • Embracing Suffering: Actively seeking out and embracing physical and mental suffering is necessary to callous the mind and expand one's pain tolerance. This allows you to push past the initial impulse to quit.

  • Removing the Governor: Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of physical challenges, even when the mind and body are begging to stop, helps remove the governor and unlock your true potential.

  • Camaraderie and Competition: The ultra-running community embodies a balance of camaraderie and competition, where athletes support and push each other to achieve more.

  • Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs: Ignoring the negative feedback from others and your own self-limiting beliefs is essential to pursuing your goals and reaching your full potential.

  • The Cookie Jar: Creating a "Cookie Jar" of past accomplishments and positive self-affirmations can help you draw on your inner strength when facing new challenges.

  • There is No Finish Line: The pursuit of excellence is an ongoing journey without a final destination. There is always room for growth and improvement.


  • The 40% Rule: The idea that we only utilize 40% of our true potential, and that the remaining 60% is available if we push ourselves to work harder and overcome the mental barriers that hold us back. This concept is central to Goggins' philosophy of achieving more through relentless effort and a refusal to give up.

  • Backstops: A navigation term referring to markers or checkpoints that indicate when you've gone off course, allowing you to re-evaluate your strategy and make adjustments. Goggins emphasizes the importance of having backstops in place, both in his athletic pursuits and in his daily life, to prevent getting derailed by setbacks.

  • Compartmentalizing Your Schedule: The idea of meticulously planning and blocking out your time, minimizing distractions and wasted time, in order to maximize productivity and focus. This involves auditing your current schedule, identifying time sinks, and then building an optimal schedule with clear priorities and transition points.

  • Embracing Weaknesses: Rather than avoiding or neglecting your weaknesses, Goggins encourages actively working to improve them. If an injury or setback prevents you from pursuing your primary passion, refocus your energy on strengthening your weaknesses, which will ultimately make you a more well-rounded and resilient individual.

  • Adaptability and Resilience: Goggins emphasizes that life will inevitably throw challenges and chaos your way, and the key is to be able to adjust, recalibrate, and stay focused on your goals, rather than allowing setbacks to derail you. Developing a mindset and skillset that can withstand and overcome adversity is crucial.

  • Recruiting for the Navy SEALs: Goggins' experience as a Navy SEAL recruiter, specifically tasked with increasing the representation of African Americans in the special operations community. This involved a multi-pronged approach of inspiring and challenging potential recruits, while also educating the military leadership on the need to better reach and appeal to underrepresented demographics.


  • Becoming Uncommon Amongst the Uncommon: The chapter discusses the author's journey to become "uncommon amongst uncommon" individuals, particularly during his time as a Navy SEAL and his experiences at Ranger School and with Delta Force selection. This refers to the mindset and actions required to separate oneself from even the most elite and accomplished peers.

  • Embracing a "Start at Zero" Mindset: The author emphasizes the importance of constantly striving for self-improvement and never being satisfied with one's current level of achievement. He advocates for a mindset of "starting at zero" each day, where one is always willing to embrace ignorance and become a "dumb fuck in the classroom again" in order to expand one's knowledge and capabilities.

  • Leading by Example and Helping Others: The author discusses his struggles with leadership when he became overly focused on pushing his teammates to match his own extreme standards, rather than helping them become the best versions of themselves. He learned that true leadership involves uplifting and bringing others along, not just outperforming them.

  • Overcoming Adversity and Prejudice: The author acknowledges that he faced prejudice and adversity throughout his military career, particularly as a Black man in predominantly white special operations units. He discusses how he used this as fuel to push himself harder and prove his worth, but also recognizes the need to balance confrontation with diplomacy.

  • Redefining Success and Opportunity: When the author was passed over for a spot in the elite DEVGRU unit, he reframed the setback as an opportunity to pursue a new challenge with Delta Force selection. He demonstrates a mindset of constantly seeking new avenues for growth and self-improvement, rather than being limited by perceived failures or closed doors.

  • Embracing the Uncommon Lifestyle: The author's relentless pursuit of physical and mental toughness, even to the point of self-deprivation, is presented as a way of life for those who aspire to be "uncommon amongst uncommon." This lifestyle involves a willingness to suffer and push oneself beyond normal limits in order to achieve extraordinary results.


  • The Power of Failure: Failure is not something to be ashamed of, but rather an opportunity for growth and improvement. The author embraces his failures, analyzes them through an "After Action Report" (AAR), and uses the lessons learned to fuel his next attempt at success.

  • Mindset Matters: The author emphasizes the importance of mindset in the face of failure. He focuses on controlling his thoughts, silencing self-doubt, and maintaining a relentless determination to achieve his goals, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

  • Surrounding Yourself with the Right People: The author highlights the value of having supportive and honest people around you, who will provide the empowering words and feedback you need to keep pushing forward, rather than those who offer comfort and discouragement.

  • The Importance of Preparation: The author meticulously analyzes his failures, identifies areas for improvement, and makes tactical adjustments to his approach. He emphasizes the importance of thorough preparation and attention to detail in order to increase the chances of success.

  • The Cookie Jar: The author's concept of the "Cookie Jar" represents the accumulation of his past accomplishments and experiences, which he can draw upon to fuel his future endeavors. This serves as a reminder that failure is not the end, but rather a stepping stone towards greater success.

  • The 40% Rule: The author introduces the concept of the "40% Rule," which suggests that our minds often give up long before our bodies are truly exhausted. By pushing past this perceived limit, we can unlock our true potential and achieve more than we thought possible.

  • Embracing the Grind: The author's relentless pursuit of his goals, even in the face of pain and discomfort, demonstrates his willingness to embrace the "ugly" and "dark" aspects of the journey. He recognizes that success is not always a linear or enjoyable process, but one that requires a deep commitment and the willingness to push through adversity.


  • Overcoming Physical and Mental Limitations: The chapter chronicles Goggins' journey of overcoming his physical and mental limitations through intense stretching and training. Despite facing numerous health issues and setbacks, he persisted in his efforts to regain his physical capabilities and return to elite-level athletic performance.

  • Embracing Pain and Suffering: Goggins emphasizes the importance of embracing pain and suffering as a means of personal growth and transformation. He believes that pushing beyond one's perceived limits and enduring physical and mental discomfort can lead to a deeper understanding of oneself and unlock new levels of performance.

  • Reframing Failure and Adversity: Goggins reflects on his past failures and adversity, recognizing them as essential components of his personal growth and development. He reframes these experiences as opportunities for self-reflection and learning, rather than sources of shame or regret.

  • Importance of Flexibility and Range of Motion: The chapter highlights the critical role of flexibility and range of motion in maintaining physical health and performance. Goggins credits the insights of a stretching expert, Joe Hippensteel, for helping him understand the importance of optimal range of motion and the consequences of neglecting it.

  • Overcoming Self-Doubt and Judgment: Goggins acknowledges his tendency to harshly judge himself and others, and his journey of letting go of this judgment and self-doubt. He emphasizes the importance of self-acceptance and the power of the "What if?" mindset in overcoming limitations and achieving personal growth.

  • Embracing a Lifelong Pursuit of Improvement: The chapter suggests that Goggins' journey of self-improvement and pushing his limits is an ongoing process, rather than a finite goal. He continues to challenge himself physically and mentally, even in his later years, demonstrating a commitment to constant growth and development.

  • Importance of Supportive Relationships: While Goggins' journey is deeply personal, the chapter acknowledges the role of supportive relationships, such as his mother, brother, and former military colleagues, in his personal transformation and healing process.


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