11 min read ⌚
Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds
Can’t Hurt Me is the touching memoir of David Goggins, “the fittest (real) man in America.”
He walked through hell to earn that title.
Quite a few times, in fact.
Read ahead to find out more.
Who Should Read “Can’t Hurt Me”? And Why?
Can’t Hurt Me tells one of the most motivational stories you’ll ever read and, let’s face it, we’re all suckers for them; so, it’s a book which should probably touch the hearts of many, regardless of whether you’re interested in fitness or not.
However, if you are, then consider this book a double treat.
About David Goggins
David Goggins is an American ultramarathon runner, motivational speaker, author, and a retired United States Navy SEAL.
Considered one of the fittest men alive, Goggins has competed in more than 60 ultra-marathons and ultra-triathlons so far, setting a few course records along the way, and almost always placing in the top five.
He is a former world record holder for the most pull-ups done in 24 hours and a sought-after motivational speaker.
Can’t Hurt Me was released on December 4, 2018, to both critical and popular acclaim.
Find out more at https://davidgoggins.com/.
“Can’t Hurt Me PDF Summary”
Look at these two photographs:
You may not believe us, but no – these two aren’t two different people; they are one and the same person, David Goggins, a man Outside magazine recently named “The Fittest (Real) Man in America.”
Well, Goggins is one of the world’s top endurance athletes, and the only man in human history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller.
Oh, he is also the guy who, until recently, held the Guinness World record for most pull-ups done in 24 hours.
Not to belittle your accomplishments, but that record stood at a little over 4,030 pull-ups – which is about 4,000 more than we can do. (Not to brag or anything.)
Can’t Hurt Me is Goggins’ memoir; if you had watched it adapted as a blockbuster movie – something tells us that it inevitably will – you’d have probably said that it is just too Hollywood-like and that things like these never happen in real life.
And yes – this thing did.
And here’s how.
David Goggins’ Childhood
“We found hell in a beautiful neighborhood,” – that’s how David Goggins begins his autobiography. And you already know that he didn’t have a happy childhood.
The neighborhood he’s talking about is Williamsville, Buffalo, New York; the year is 1981 and Goggins is merely 6 years old; and hell is a corner lot on Paradise Road.
Because even though on Paradise Road everyone lives “near the top of the food chain,” and even though most of their neighbors believe that the Goggins family is “the tip of that spear,” under the surface, nothing is as beautiful as it seems.
“If Paradise Road was Hell,” notes Goggins ominously, “that meant I lived with the Devil himself.”
The Devil’s name: Trunnis Goggins, a self-made businessman and longtime owner of Skateland, a roller-disco rink; also: David’s father. Kind of a big deal in Williamsville: so much so that you can find his obituary in The Buffalo News; however, you won’t read in it what really matters.
And that is that Trunnis was a tyrannical father; built like a boxer, he tolerated no disobedience, no matter how unreasonable his demands had been.
One of these demands was that his 17 years younger wife Jackie and his children – David and Trunnis II – work for him tirelessly at the rink, every night until midnight; of course, this resulted in David regularly falling asleep in school the following day.
But it gets worse.
You see, Trunnis ran a prostitute ring; his pop-up brothel was the summer cottage of the president of one of Buffalo’s biggest banks; hence, the loans and the credits.
And the worst part?
David often witnessed Trunnis beating Jackie senseless with his leather belt, hitting her, dragging her by the hair; when David tried to help her, he beat him too.
The Things You Can’t Escape
In 1983, when David was 8 years old, Jackie had it just about enough: with the help of a sympathetic neighbor, she took David with her and hurriedly left Trunnis’ house, planning never to come back again.
Trunnis II didn’t want to live: despite Trunnis’ cruelty, he decided to stay with his father; fortunately, it seems that, despite the hardships, his life turned out fine (we had to do a bit of research).
Anyway, Jackie and David moved to the small town of Brazil, Indiana, where they suddenly had to adapt to an entirely different life.
Up until recently, they had lived in a rich neighborhood and could afford just about anything; and because of his father’s, ahem, connections, it didn’t even matter that they were black.
Suddenly, that had to live in a public housing block and get through the month on Jackie’s part-time job and a measly monthly welfare check.
To make matters worse, David started feeling the full power of his past’s demons; he started suffering from toxic stress, getting a stutter overnight, losing both his hair and his skin pigment:
The type of physical and emotional abuse I was exposed to has been proven to have a range of side effects on young children because in our early years the brain grows and develops so rapidly. If, during those years, your father is an evil motherfucker hell-bent on destroying everyone in his house, stress spikes, and when those spikes occur frequently enough, you can draw a line across the peaks. That’s your new baseline. It puts kids in a permanent ‘fight or flight’ mode. Fight or flight can be a great tool when you’re in danger because it amps you up to battle through or sprint from trouble, but it’s no way to live.
Coping with the Bitter Reality of Life
Another thing that toxic stress causes: memory loss.
And not the good kind, as in “I’ll forget the bad things of my past to make room for the future and move on;” oh no – we’re talking about the bad kind, as in “What’s the point of learning the alphabet and remembering all these historical facts when someone could beat me up this very instant?”
In other words, David had serious problems finding his way around school, once even overhearing Ms. D., his teacher, telling Jackie that David belonged in a different school, one for “special students.”
It didn’t help that he was the only black kid in his class and that “Southern Indiana had always been a hotbed of racists.”
In 1991, David (still struggling with literacy, almost unbeknownst to anyone, because he was constantly cheating) opened up his Spanish class workbook to find, scribbled inside it, an image of him in a noose and below it the words: “Niger, we’re gonna kill you.”
And it didn’t stop there.
By the end of that year – David was almost 17 – his grandfather bought him a used, brown Chevy Citation. One of the first mornings he ever drove it to school, someone spray painted the word “nigger” – this time spelling it correctly – on his driver’s side door.
David started living in “a haze of hate, trapped in [his] fruitless rage and ignorance,” watching Malcolm X videos over and over again and living in isolation of his community.
“By my junior year,” David writes, “I went out of my way to piss people off by becoming the exact stereotype racist white people loathed and feared.”
You know what he means: pants down, wild ‘dos, car stereo wired to house speakers.
Air Force Training
“Everything I did was to get a reaction out of the people who hated me most because everyone’s opinion of me mattered to me, and that’s a shallow way to live,” writes Goggins.
“I was full of pain, had no real purpose, and if you were watching from afar, it would have looked like I’d given up on any chance of success. That I was heading for disaster. But I hadn’t let go of all hope. I had one more dream left: I wanted to join the Air Force.”
David’s grandfather had been a proud cook in Air Force for 37 years, and Goggins was inspired by him to join the Civil Air Patrol, the civilian auxiliary of the Air Force.
There, he became fascinated with Pararescue – “the guys who jump out of airplanes to pull downed pilots out of harm’s way.”
And for a while, everything was going great: at 6’2” and 175 pounds, David was “a star recruit” and was well-liked by his drill sergeant.
How could that not be?
He “was one of the best at push-ups, and the best at sit-ups, flutter kicks, and running.” But something he hadn’t expected was coming his way: water confidence.
“That’s a nice name,” says Goggins, “for a course where they try to drown your ass for weeks, and I was uncomfortable as hell in the water.”
So, what did David do?
What most of us would: he quit, one point behind honor grad.
Fast forward a few years, and David was but a shadow of himself, weighing almost twice as much as when in Air Force training, burying his shame at the kitchen table while being stuck in a night-shift pest exterminator job.
What a fall from grace!
Joining the Navy SEALs
And then, one day, while showering, David heard “a narrator’s voice filter through the steam” and coming from the TV. He caught a few snippets: “Navy SEALs… toughest… the world.”
He rushed back to the living room and sat transfixed for at least 30 minutes. “The show,” informs us Goggins, “followed Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL (BUD/S) Training Class 224 through Hell Week: the most arduous series of tasks in the most physically demanding training in the military.”
This – this was what he had always wanted to do:
The longer I watched, the more certain I became that there were answers buried in all that suffering. Answers that I needed. More than once the camera panned over the endless frothing ocean, and each time I felt pathetic. The SEALs were everything I wasn’t. They were about pride, dignity, and the type of excellence that came from bathing in the fire, getting beat the fuck down and going back for more, again and again. They were the human equivalent of the hardest, sharpest sword you could imagine. They sought out the flame, took the pounding for as long as necessary, longer even, until they were fearless and deadly. They weren’t motivated. They were driven.
With a new-found motivation, Goggins spent the next few weeks calling everybody, pleading for an opportunity to become a SEAL.
He finally found a suitable program, one for former military recruits.
The good news?
It was about to start in three months.
The bad news?
Goggins weighed 300 pounds at the time, and the maximum weight allowed was 191 pounds.
You know the ending of the story already, so no need to beat around the bush: Goggins made it! And he made through the training as well, finally achieving his dream of joining the Navy SEALs.
David Goggins, however, is rarely described as a Navy SEAL.
The first sentence of his Wikipedia biography, for example, looks (at the moment of writing) something like this: “David Goggins (born February 17, 1975) is an American ultramarathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, motivational speaker and author.”
In other words, Goggins is much more famous for his superhuman capabilities as an ultrarunner; and he began his career in ultramarathon running merely as a way to contribute to a good cause.
Namely, when several of his fellow Navy SEALs were killed in Afghanistan in 2005, he attempted to raise awareness by entering the Badwater-135 Ultramarathon.
However, he was told by organizers that it is an invitation-only event, so Goggins had to run at least one other ultramarathon first.
David entered the San Diego One Day 24-hour ultramarathon and was able to run the 100 miles in under 19 hours, despite the lack of preparation and the fact that he hadn’t run such an event ever before.
Badwater-135 was next.
You need to know something about that race: it not only describes itself as “the world’s toughest foot race,” but it quite probably is nothing less.
To finish it, you’d need to run 135 miles in the Badwater Basin in California’s Death Valley, starting at 279 below sea level (85 m) and ending at 8360 feet above it (2548 m).
And oh – it’s happening in July, when the temperatures can reach 130 °F (above 50 °C)!
David Goggins completed Badwater-135 in 30 hours, finishing in fifth place, an unheard-of achievement for a novice at an event very few people are capable of even finishing!
Once again: Goggins weighed 300 pounds at 24; it’s never too late.
Key Lessons from “Can’t Hurt Me”
1. David Goggins’ Childhood Was a Nightmare
2. Quitting Is Easy – Even for Champions
3. With the Right Mindset and a Lot of Hard Work, You Can Do It Too
David Goggins’ Childhood Was a Nightmare
David Goggins spent his childhood in Williamsville, working night shifts on his father’s roller-disco rink; and as if that wasn’t enough, his father was a violent man – and a pimp – who’d beat him and his mother for every single form of disobedience.
Fortunately, when David was merely 8 years old, his mother escaped to the small town of Brazil, Indiana, taking David with her.
Life still sucked, though: David was suffering from the consequences of toxic stress, and, as the only black kid at his school, he was often the victim of racist bullying,
Quitting Is Easy – Even for Champions
David tried finding a way out in Air Force training, dreaming of becoming a Pararescue.
Unfortunately, even though everything was going great for a while, David was supposed to complete his training by gaining some water confidence, i.e., completing a course during which they try to drown you for weeks; and he wasn’t that good at swimming or comfortable under water.
So, he quit, using a routine medical check-up (which showed that he has a predisposition to sickle cell anemia) as an excuse to do so.
It’s always easy to find an excuse, even if you’re a champion; but, as they say, if you want to succeed, instead of excuses, you’ll find ways.
With the Right Mindset and a Lot of Hard Work, You Can Do It Too
David Goggins found them: he’s now considered one of the fittest men on this planet.
How did he do it?
With the right mindset and a lot of hard work.
Echoing the words of a fellow Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink, David Goggins writes quite straightforwardly:
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.
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“Can’t Hurt Me Quotes”In the military, we always say we don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training. Click To Tweet Denial is the ultimate comfort zone. Click To Tweet It’s possible to transcend anything that doesn’t kill you. Click To Tweet If you want to be one of the few to defy those trends in our ever-softening society, you will have to be willing to go to war with yourself and create a whole new identity, which requires an open mind. Click To Tweet We’re either getting better, or we’re getting worse. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
“David Goggins is a being of pure will and inspiration,” says Joe Rogan. “Just listening to this guy talk makes you want to run up a mountain.
And he goes on: “I firmly believe people like him can change the course of the world just by inspiring us to push harder and dig deeper in everything we do. His goal to be ‘uncommon amongst uncommon people’ is something we can all use to propel ourselves to fulfill our true potential. I’m a better man having met him.”
And we’re better men having read Can’t Hurt Me.
Do yourself a favor and do the same.