One of my friends from school repeatedly recommended Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds (2018) by David Goggins. She said that “he’s kind of an asshole, but he has an amazing story.” And I think she was right. I’m guessing that Goggins would agree with her as well.
I’d heard of David Goggins before my friend mentioned him. He’s a navy seal who once held the Guinness World Record for number of pull-ups in 24 hours, and he’s pushed himself on ultra marathons as well. What he’s physically accomplished in his life is truly amazing. I used his audiobook as inspiration as I jogged slowly around my neighborhood. I was out of breath, but Goggins was going through Seal training with stress fractures and broken knee caps, so I couldn’t feel too sorry for myself.
Goggins begins his book discussing his childhood with his very abusive father. He was controlling, verbally abusive, and very violent. His father’s idea of manhood was absolute control and belittlement of others. I can’t even begin to do justice to how much Goggins had to overcome. His mother was able to escape the situation when he was about eight years old, but the effects were lasting. Goggins explains that after all the trauma, his mind had difficulty learning. He had to go over school assignments again and again for anything to stick in his head. His mother started dating another man, who was a great role model for him, but that man was tragically killed by random violence.
After Goggins made it to adulthood, he decided he wanted to be a Navy Seal, but he didn’t know how to swim. I cannot imagine how Goggins was able to push through Navy Seal training while being afraid of water, but he did. And he managed it three times. Goggins would make it through some or most of the training but an injury would require him to get recycled into the next class. It is astounding what he was able to push his body and mind through.
After succeeding as a Navy Seal, Goggins continued to push himself. Even though he was a big guy to excel at pull-ups, he decided to go after the world record for pull-ups in 24 hours. He went after this goal a number of times, putting his body through agony before he was able to accomplish his goal. This happened again when he tried ultra marathons. He jumped in with little to no preparation, was able to push his body past what most anyone could handle, and eventually gained the knowledge and endurance that made him succeed.
As Goggins matured, he learned about himself and what made him tick, but I could see why my friend said he could be an asshole. Goggins was very dismissive and belligerent towards anyone who didn’t understand his drive or wanted to push themselves as hard as he did. His attitude towards women and constant use of the word “pussy” was also grating. There were shades of his father’s abuse in Goggins’s point of view. It doesn’t take much projecting to imagine that there is some dark hole of pain from childhood that contributes to Goggins’ endless drive. I found Goggins to be a fascinating person who has succeeded at pushing his body past what most people would dare contemplate. Recommended.
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