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Review: Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Who is David Goggins?

David Goggins is a retired NAVY Seal, New York Times best-selling author of Can’t Hurt Me, and world-class athlete who has completed dozens of ultra-marathons and triathlons. He is the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training, U.S. Army Ranger School, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller Training (all 3 extremely rigorous). Additionally, he is a former Guinness World Record holder with 4,030 pull-ups in seventeen hours!

Growing up in New York and later Indiana, Goggins experienced an abusive and traumatic upbringing. He worked long hours at his father’s business, fell behind in school, and witnessed his mother get physically abused by his father frequently. These negative experiences led to low self-esteem throughout most of his adolescent years and he felt like he had no purpose. However, Goggins was able to transform himself later on by changing his mindset. 

In our review of Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, we will talk about how he overcame the effects of poverty, prejudice, and abuse. By focusing on work ethic and self-discipline, Goggins became a U.S. Armed Forces legend. Can’t Hurt Me is a memoir and guide on how to master our minds to overcome obstacles and reach our full potential.

Review Of What You Will Learn In Can’t Hurt Me


Goggins used his bathroom mirror as the forum through which he had very difficult conversations with himself. He used post-it notes to write down his insecurities, fears, goals, and aspirations and posted them on the mirror. This way, he was able to talk himself through those negative feelings.

Whether they’re financial, lifestyle, career, or personal goals, each one of us can take inventory of where we want to go and what’s holding us back. This is a time to be honest with ourselves about what more we can do to achieve our goals. While Goggins understands that not everything is in our control, he also knows that many of us have more to give. 

Let’s strive to align our daily actions with our goals and remain consistent until we reach them. With post-it notes and a mirror, it can quickly become apparent what holds a lot of us back; ourselves!

“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.”

Goggins, p.73

The 40% Rule

Goggins lives by a mantra called “The 40% Rule.” It explains that most of us give up when we’ve only given around 40% of our maximum effort! To reach the levels of performance beyond 40%, we need to identify our insecurities and shortcomings and attack them head-on. 

Also, once you realize you have more to give, the next logical choice will be to push yourself (mentally and physically) until you’ve reached your maximum effort. The mechanism that attempts to limit us to 40% cannot win unless we buy into it and decide to quit!

“The 40% Rule can be applied to everything we do…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.”

Goggins, p.211

Optimal Scheduling

Additionally, Goggins describes the importance of understanding your daily schedule and how you spend your time. If you have a fitness or professional goal, it is imperative that you fill any gaps in time with productive tasks that will ensure you reach your targets. Many of us spend time, unknowingly, on tasks that are unrelated and even unnecessary. So let us take ownership of our schedules and push ourselves to eliminate any wasted time!

“It’s time to compartmentalize your day. Too many of us have become multitaskers, and that’s created a nation of people who get lots of things halfway done…Most people waste four to five hours on a given day, and if you can learn to identify and utilize it, you’ll be on your way toward increased productivity.”

Goggins, p.264

Learning from Failures

Not only did David Goggins attempt BUD/S Seal training 3 separate times, but he’s also failed to finish races. Not to mention, he didn’t break the Guinness World Record for the most pull-ups until his 3rd attempt!

As heart-breaking and difficult as failure can be, you’ll only increase your chances of success if you learn from your mistakes. After each failure, Goggins was relentless in his approach to reflection and assessment. He took inventory of all that went right, and everything that should be changed. Without this, he might not have even had the motivation to try again in the first place.

Some live by the mantra of “you either win or you learn”. This rings true for David Goggins. We should all strive to learn from our mistakes instead of letting them discourage us.

“…Write out all the good things, everything that went well, from your failures. Be detailed and generous with yourself. A lot of good things will have happened. It’s rarely all bad…Now go back and make a list of things you can fix. This isn’t time to be soft or generous. Be brutally honest, write them all out. Study them. Then look at your calendar and schedule another attempt as soon as possible.”

Goggins, p.331

What if?

If you are attempting something extraordinary, whether in your professional or personal life, you will be met with naysayers. Some may be on social media, at work, or in your inner closest circle. While some may have great intentions, their doubt tends to chip away at the hope and positivity you’ve created for yourself. 

Goggins tells us to simply look them in the eye and ask them “What if?”. When you ask this question, you and the doubter are able to visualize how great it would be to succeed and reach that target. Usually, the possibility of that feeling alone makes it worth trying!

“…I know I’ll continue to give it my all and set goals that seem impossible to most. And when naysayers say so, I’ll look them dead in the eye and respond with one simple question. What if?

Goggins, p.356

Final Verdict: 7.7/10

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins is a great guide on taking control of your thoughts and mindset. More often than not, it is ourselves along with the self-limiting beliefs that hold us back in life. Goggins shows us exactly how he implemented the strategies in this book on his journey from an overweight exterminator to a U.S. Armed Forces icon. 

The truth is, we can all be more productive. We can all get a bit closer to those targets and goals we’ve created for ourselves. We can all benefit from assessing our failures and trying again. Can’t Hurt Me proves that our thoughts and doubt only have power if we give it to them. Let’s take ownership of our mindset, create bigger goals, and attack them head-on!

For strategies on how to hold yourself accountable, I highly recommend you get Can’t Hurt Me on Amazon and take the first step towards obtaining a warrior mindset.

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