Insight & Analysis

‘Do something you hate everyday’

Published: Dec 2022

A newly released bestseller by David Goggins, a man who has run a 100-mile race on broken feet, outlines how it is possible to overcome adversity and achieve greatness with the power of the mind. As he explains, it is all about sucking it up and callousing the mind.

If you think you’re having a difficult day, or life even, then it might be worth considering that you’re not even using 40% of your capabilities; you could achieve and do so much more if you just set your mind to it.

That is the theme of a recent book Never Finished: Unshackle Your Mind and Win the War Within by David Goggins, a man who underwent a spectacular transformation himself from an overweight loser to a star Navy SEAL and ultra-endurance athlete.

This certainly isn’t a ‘be kind to yourself’ sort of self-help book. It’s more of a ‘wake up call, suck up the pain and do things you hate kind of book. It has a sweary bootcamp style, which at times makes for gruelling reading. It is also, however, an inspiring read that demonstrates anything is possible if you focus your mind and have steely determination.

That’s what Goggins was able to do. In his first book Can’t Hurt Me he tells a remarkable story of overcoming a childhood where the odds were stacked against him: poverty, racism, physical abuse by his father, a heart defect that required multiple surgeries, as well as learning difficulties and a stepfather who was murdered.

By the time he was 24 he was overweight and realised he was at risk of wasting his life. From there he transformed himself into a candidate for the US Navy’s special operations unit and went through the brutal Navy SEAL’s ‘Hell Week’ initiation. He managed to turn his demons into a positive force. “I’m haunted by my future goals, not my past failures,” he writes.

These days he likes running super long distances and regularly finishes in the top five in ultra-marathons. He is also a Guinness World Record holder for the most pull ups in 24 hours. If you’re wondering, he did 4,030 in 17 hours.

At times his account feels like a masochist’s guide to working out. But he thinks that you can achieve such greatness – even if your goals or objectives are different. “The pain that you are willing to endure is measured by how bad you want it,” he writes.

To transform your life, you don’t need to enter a 100-mile race, and you certainly don’t need to do it with fractured bones like he has done. And Goggins is not a fan of self-help books – they are only about improvement, he argues. What most people need is much more than that: you need to reignite belief, ‘the flicker in the darkness’ that can spark your transformation.

Goggins argues he has not accomplished what he has because of his potential. In fact, he argues, his potential was so well buried when he was younger that no one could see it. “Not only did I find it, I learned to maximise it,” he writes.

His latest Never Finished book lays out his Mental Lab, a kind of roadmap that others can use to inspire them to harness the power of their mind and transform themselves. And he argues the task is an urgent one; life is ticking away by the second and should not be wasted. In fact, he argues, if you waste one of the 86,400 seconds in a day, that could change the outcome of your day – and your life even.

He urges his readers to have the mental endurance to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals. “You are the warden of your life,” he writes. He also has advice on ‘The Art of Getting Hit in the Mouth’. If you are preparing for New Year’s resolutions and were intending to take a ‘be kind to yourself’ approach, then this isn’t the book for you.

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