I'm The World's Toughest Man
David Goggins is considered by many to be the toughest man alive. In this amazing interview, David Goggins shares his views on suffering, mental strength, defying the odds and how he became “the world’s toughest man”
David Goggins – THE INTERVIEW – Transcript
I was in such a dungeon (prison) in my life and I thought I was in such a hole … with nowhere to go, with so many issues and so many things to climb over and overcome … But the thing about it is … we all have the ability to come from nothing to something.
I was 300 pounds and my goal was to be a navy seal. Impossible goal. But what if I could?
You have to be willing to suffer to get to the other side. And on the other side of suffering is a whole other world that people have no idea that it even exists.
From the very beginning, how I became who I am today … I grew up very soft, very insecure. I was beaten as a child, a lot, not only physically, but also mentally. My dad was an alcoholic, so it transferred to him being very abusive of me growing up, not just to me, but also my mother and from that, my foundation at an early age was cracked. I had a very cracked foundation growing up.
So with a cracked foundation and my mom having a cracked foundation, I had no one to really show me the ropes, show me the way … and so we went from that kind of cracked foundation to another cracked foundation. We went to a small town in Indiana. In Brazil Indiana. There were about 5 black families there … so being called “nigger” was something that happened regularly.
I had a lot of friends, but you know, when you have a cracked foundation, the only thing you really see is the negative. You don’t see a lot of the people that like you … all you see is; the people that don’t like you.
So that cracked foundation just kept on getting more and more cracked and throughout the years I developed a stutter (hesitate). I had a lot of issues with people, social anxiety … I copied all through school … I had learning disability, so I cheated a lot, going through school, so my foundation continue to get cracked. And when you get to that point in your life and no one is there to really help you out, you have to figure something out.
So what made me who I am today, is basically seeing that cracked foundation and not liking it. So I had to learn how to mend that cracked foundation alone … and what happens is you have to really develop a lot of mental toughness … but to me mental toughness wasn’t enough. I had to really develop a calloused (insensitive; indifferent; unsympathetic) mind.
So, I had a victim mentality. I was a victim. Everybody messed my life up: My dad, society, my mom, whatever it may be … I was dealt a band hand. And so it gives you a victim mentality.
So, I developed a way to get over the victim mentality and it was through callusing the mind. I was literally callusing over the victim’s mentality, through outworking all my faults. So I developed a work ethic that became known as what it is now. So I got this ‘world’s toughest man’ because … I am not the best person in the world … I’m not the smartest … I’m not anything … but I learned to outwork everybody around me and that’s how I got to where I am today.
Living Outside the Comfort Zone
So I don’t live a very glamorous life at all. I live very uncomfortable to a lot of people. It’s not that I’m broke. It’s not that I don’t have the means to do it. It’s like a boxer … A boxer may have a 4 million dollar house. But before a big fight, he may go away to the mountains for about 2 months to train … totally secluded (isolated), desolate (isolated) world, he may sleep on the ground. What that boxer is doing, is he’s trying to form his mentality. He’s trying to get that mentality to a very granimalistic (negative connotation; used to describe an adult who dresses in overly matched separates) state … so when he goes inside that ring, his mentality is ready to do whatever it takes to win that boxing match.
So what I realized from my foundation growing up was that I had a very soft, soft mind. And I live that way now, like that boxer training for that big fight. I live that way all the time. So I’m always sharpening my sword and how I sharpen my sword is I have a mentality of ‘my refrigerator is never full’. I’ve never arrived … and every time I get close to the top of the mountain … I fall back down on purpose.
I believe that the true growth is at scratch. Starting from scratch is true growth. You have to have friction in your life. There has to be friction in your life for you to be able to move forward.
Becoming the Hardest Man on the Planet
So many people call me the hardest man on the planet. I got to the point from having a never ending work ethic. So, if you want anything in life …
We live in a society right now where mediocrity is often rewarded. Mediocrity is almost a standard. And for me, if you live that way that’s when you get beat. Let’s say you have 10 people. You have 10 people and all of them are mediocre … and you beat those 10 people, in a race or at work, wherever it may be … you are really still mediocre.
What we do in life is we set our standards to everybody else. What we do in life is we look at what someone did before us. We look at a standard. I don’t look at anybody’s standard. I set my own standard … and how I became this ‘hardest man on the planet’ is I literally set my own standards. I started to reinvent the wheel for myself. I didn’t follow the crowd, whatever the crowd was doing. I didn’t follow. I did what I had to do to get where I had to go …. and in doing that, that’s where true growth is, is finding yourself.
I’m not trying to be like anybody else, I’m trying to be (myself) [say Your Name] and through that, you can find out what you’re made of. You are always trying to conquer yourself and that’s how I got this title.
Advice for Those Going Through Hard Times
My advice to people who are going through hard times … A lot of people know my story: I come from a very, very humble beginning … You have to be open with that.
Like, for instance social media … All the people on social media … what they do, is, they show you the best side of them. Everybody on social media, everybody here in this world if you have friends … everybody has 2 sides to them.
We have a side that we want you to see which is our best side. We also have this side that we’re not working on. The side we’re not working on is that side that you want no one to see.
Like on social media … everybody posts where they’re going … I’m going here for vacation … this is me in the gym … this is me here … what I do is, I post my bad side. I let everybody know: I’m this. I’m this. I’m this. I have to work on all these things. It’s ok.
The first thing is you have to accept the fact that everybody judging you, you judging yourself, it is ok to be drain out. It’s ok to not be exactly like everybody else. It’s ok not to follow the crowd. That’s the one thing I would tell people: Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing … Worry about what you’re doing. Focus on what you’re doing. Because everybody else out there … Everybody judging you. They also have problems themselves.
And that’s when I realized myself, so I stopped comparing myself to everybody else and I started comparing myself to me. I’m my own hero.
The Underdog in Us All
I believe that a lot more people can relate to the struggle, a lot more than the success. People relate a lot more to that. I relate a lot more to a person who’s the underdog (a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest).
Most of us in this world are underdogs. There are very few of us out here who are the one per centers. Those 1% are those people who are like … the CEO’s, these people who are like the best basketball player, the best golfer … Very few people are there.
It’s those people who are at the very bottom and in the middle … who are trying to get there … It’s all about work ethic.
So, everybody loves the underdog. That’s what that whole Rocky story … Everybody loves the Rocky story. The thing about it is, to develop the Rocky story, you gotta work hard and not many people are willing to do that part of it.
That’s the hard part about overcoming the odds … Overcoming yourself … is you have to create a Rocky story. You have to be willing to suffer to get to the other side.
The Rocky Story
So, why I like the Rocky film so much is, when I was growing up, I didn’t have much of a role model, growing up. So, in between my cheating and me ditching school and all these things I got obsessed (in a world of your own) with people that I saw my life in their life.
I got obsessed with people who struggled. People who were at the bottom of the doggone (used to express surprise, irritation, or anger) sewer. I got obsessed with watching these people.
And I got obsessed with watching (the movie) Rocky 1 – Round 14
And the reason why this specific round is … even to this day, I’m 43 years old … To this day it puts chills in my body. I can go back to when I was 10-11-12 years old … whenever the movie came out.
I remember my first time watching it. I was watching Round 14 of Rocky 1. I’ll never forget watching this guy, who was Rocky getting him kicked. Apollo Creed was just knocking him down, beating him up … and all he wanted to do was to go the distance.
And to lot of people, this makes no sense to them but for a kid who is looking for strength … who is looking for like … Is it possible? You’re looking for is it possible?
Can I pull off the impossible? … and me watching this film, that’s what I saw, so … there was a no name boxer against the best boxer in the world, who was Apollo Creed. Now I’m watching this guy in the ring, who is Rocky … he’s getting kicked… Falling down, getting back up.
In the 14th round Apollo is like… just killing this guy but also Apollo is tired. He is extremely tired … But Apollo knocks him down in the 14th round, for like the 30th time … And even Rocky’s coach, Mickey is telling Rocky to stay down … and Apollo turns around. He turns around and he thinks that he got this guy … he thinks he beat him. He thinks he finally took this guy out … this guy that kept coming at him, and coming at him.
Apollo Creed turns around … Puts his arms in the air. He turns his back to Rocky. He’s assuming he’s down. ‘I got him!’
Everybody in the crowd is saying stay down. Everybody. This guy is climbing the ropes to get back up. Totally destroyed. Nothing left. But HE FOUND SOMETHING … And this is the thing about it … He found something!
And I watch this guy get up, and once he gets up, Apollo Creed turns around and sees this … and the look I saw … most people don’t even see this … The look I saw on Apollo Creed’s face was this look of total awe … of Who the hell are you? Who am I fighting?
It looked like Apollo Creed’s soul left his body … and Rocky got his gloves and motioned him to come on … and Apollo Creed put his head down and shook his head.
Why that scene resonates with me so much is that I was such a dungeon (prison) in my life and I feel like I was such in a hole, with nowhere to go, with so many issues and so many things to climb over and overcome on my own … I wanted every obstacle and every person whoever doubted me to look like Apollo Creed. I wanted the people, obstacles, whatever to look at me like this guy is going to continue coming after me. I wanted what that Rocky had. Just the ability to keep getting up. I don’t care if I win. I don’t care if I’m the best. It’s not about being the hardest man in the world. I just want to keep coming after you.
So through years and years and years of visualizing that scene of that guy just getting up … It’s just a movie to some people … but to me it became what my reality had to become. I had to become that guy. Who could run on broken legs going through hell week. Who could endure the most pain. The most suffering. To get where I had to go. I’m going to have to be that guy. And a lot of people will never understand that because they don’t have that kind of mindset … but we all have that.
I came from nothing. But the thing about it is … We all have the ability to come from nothing to something. But it takes that kind of spirit.
Remind Yourself Who You Are “The Cookie Jar”
The cookie jar is something that I developed years ago. So what happens to me, happens to a lot of us in situations … We get put in these … My whole life I’ve been put in struggles … I’ve put myself in struggles … I’ve purposely put obstacles in front of me to see how I’m going to feel, like for instance I’ve run over 200 miles at one time … non-stop. Do you know what goes through your mind … when your goal is to run for 200 miles and you’re at mile 100? You’re at mile 100. You’ve run for over 24 hrs and your body is broken. You’re destroyed. You have nothing left. You have 100+ more miles to go. How do you find more?
So I developed this thing called the cookie jar. So the cookie jar is a reminder. It’s all that is. It’s a reminder. Even the hardest person on planet earth … we forget how hard we are. When times get hard … When times get hard, your mind spazzes out. It freaks out. It goes somewhere else. We forget.
That cookie jar … You gotta take 1 second. Take 1 second and that cookie jar has all these things in it … All the things you overcame … All the things that you suffered through … All the things that got in your way and you fought through.
So you go in your mental cookie jar, when you’re going through bad times … When you wanna quit and you wanna bailout … You think about it … Ok, David; what did you do? You went through 2 hell weeks. You went through ranger school. You went through this. You went through that. It’s a reminder that you are that hard. And that’s all it is.
The cookie jar is, you take 1 second when you’re in an extreme environment and your mind and your body are saying: We’re done. We need to quit. You can remind yourself: Hang on a second! I’ve been through a hell of a lot more than this and I had the strength to persevere, to move on, to not be mediocre, to not settle for what’s in front of me. To overcome the odds.
WHAT IF You Could? – The “What If Mentality”
The What If mentality is a mentality of … a lot of us. In this world, we have people who say we cannot do something. You can’t do it. You’re too short. You look a certain way. You act a certain way. You’re not smart enough …
I hit that roadblock every time. I was 300 pounds. I’ll never forget, I was 300 pounds … I went from 175 to 300 ponds and my goal was to be a navy seal … Impossible goal. And Navy recruiter that saw me said that, besides one. Every recruiter said: There’s no way, man. You’re 297 pounds and you’re going to lose so much weight so fast.
I talked to one recruiter … I’ll never forget, getting back in my truck and he said: “You cannot do this” I got in my truck and I said to myself “But what if I could?” What if … I could pull up this miracle? How will I feel at the very end if I can defy all the odds?
The what if mentality is … this guy told me: I was a 36 African American navy seal in navy seal history, in over 70 years. This guy told me there’s only 35 African Americans to ever be a navy seal. He was pretty much telling me: You can’t get what it takes. I took that and said: “ What if I could be the 36th?”. Versus taking what he said … All the negativity he’s putting on me because he can’t imagine himself do what I’m about to do.
So, most people who can’t imagine it they reflect. It’s like a mirror. They put that right on you. If they can’t see themselves doing it: I can’t see you doing it, I take that mirror and I totally discard it. I say What if I could be the 36th person to ever do it? I use all the negativity as positivity and fuel to get me to where I need to go.
What Drives The Hardest Man On The Planet?
What drives me today is being my best … and being my best is a never ending journey. A lot of people call me obsessed. That’s fine. I probably am obsessed (preoccupied).
When you finally realize … Like, for me, that humble beginning I had… When you realize that I could have literally given up and right now at 43 I could still be a 300 pound man spraying for cockroaches.
It’s truly amazing that a lot of us walk this planet earth being a fraction of what we’re capable of being.
I look back when I was 24 years old and that could have been my 100% if I chose to take the path of least resistance. That could have been my 100% … Never knowing that in that 300 pound body … The kid who couldn’t read, 4th grade reading level … is now a person that’s been through almost every special ops training in the world, has broke several records and has continued to grow.
Once you realize what’s on the other side of that … That will keep you … I’m the most driven person in the world because I realized that I was leaving so much on the table never knowing that inside that fat guy was this person here.
And once you peel that crust away and see who you really are, you open your mind to a whole other world. So I’ve opened my mind up to a whole other world that most people can’t even fathom (understand, comprehend) because they haven’t dug deep into their own personal problems.
They think I’m crazy because I found a whole other way of living. I think they’re crazy for never even trying … to get to the other side of whatever is in front of them.
So what drives me every day is finding more of myself.
How To Break The Habit of Making Excuses
So how do I suggest to someone how to break the habit of constantly making excuses … Is do something every day that drains.
There’s a saying out there … There’s a saying that says: “Triple down on your strengths”… Tripling down on your strengths does 1 thing to you … It makes you very comfortable. It makes you very strong at what you’re good at.
So, why people have excuses is that’s the world they live in … They live in a world where if they’re good at running: All they do is run. If they’re good at reading: All they do is read. So the excuse world comes up because when the world, life doesn’t give a damn about what you’re good at … so when a challenge comes up that you’re not great at, the first thing this ‘triple down’ mentality does is it forces you to say “I’m not good at it” … “ So I’m not going to do it”
Versus saying “I’m not good at it … I’m going to be great at it” I’m going to figure out. I wanna put the work in … That’s how you start to callus (knock) your mind.
The excuses that we’re making are just because we’re not good at it. So, it makes us feel insecure. It makes us feel a certain way.
That’s why I tell everybody: You cannot fix anything in life until you fix YOURSELF.
Look Inside Yourself
A lot of people give great advice … How many people do you know in your life that give great advice? They give the best advice on planet earth … but their lives are all jacked up.
No one looks inside themselves … because what they see inside is ugly. It’s full of lies. It’s full of secrets. It’s full of insecurities. Once you dive into that you have no more excuses, because you start ripping away those layers of insecurities … On the other end of those layers is exactly who you truly are.
So do something everyday that is hard. Get outside your comfort zone. Triple down on your weaknesses … Not your strengths. That’s how you grow. That’s how you stop making excuses
You Can’t Hurt Me
So my book’s coming out Dec 4th … It’s called “Can’t hurt me” … Why I titled it ‘Can’t hurt me’ is, this book is a self help memoir. We have a whole bunch of self help books out there that are 5 step … 5 step this … Mine is not a 5 step program. Mine is about getting to the root of the problem … and the root of the problem is yourself.
You have to master your own mind. Once you master your own mind, everything else is taken care of.
So, ‘Can’t hurt me’ is about LIFE. It’s about YOU. It’s about my mentality … But you get to develop your own mentality.
So, life is full of people who are getting bullied, People who are insecure. People who’re going through problems … A lot of problems … But if you have this mentality that you start to develop of ‘you can’t hurt me’ … When I was going through seal training … it’s what you say to yourself on a daily basis … If you say ‘You can’t hurt me’! Every time I got inspired, in everything I did … Whether it be a fight or test … Ranger school … Can’t hurt me! It starts to get in your mind and before you know it: It’s the truth.
So when you fail, you fall on your feet … Somebody bullies you … Whatever is going in your life: Can’t hurt me!
Why that saying is true, is not because you Say It … You have to put the work in to develop that calloused mind … to believe it’s true.
So, a lot of people want to know what I say to myself when I’m out here doing these long events. My self talk.
David, when you’re out there and you’re at mile 75 of 135 mile run through death valley … Well, I tell myself … back in the day I was the weakest person that God ever created. That’s what I thought. I made this man to be the hardest man that God ever created, Is it true? I don’t care if it’s true or not. I believe it.
But, a lot of people … like these books: Self talk, Visualization … Self talk doesn’t mean anything … you can tell yourself, you’re the best person to ever live … Self talk without the work … without the work is just lies.
So I’m telling myself, I’m the hardest man on the planet … When I’m in the worst situation possible … I’m going back to the 3 hours I’ve put into training everyday … I’m going back to the 3 am wakeup call Looking at my shoes thinking God, 75 days in a row. No days off. Running 15 miles a day. I don’t wanna do it And then you lace them up!
So, when I’m in that horrible spot and I’m talking to myself … I’m also recalling all the training sessions … All the years … All the hard work … So, when I talk to myself that way: The self talk is REAL … It’s not lies.
Because if you’re taking a test in school and you haven’t studied for it and you say I’m going to pass this test … chances are, you’re going to fail it. Because you haven’t put the time in to get the result of passing.
So self talk is good but putting the work in is bigger.
Don’t Talk About It… BE ABOUT IT!
There’s a lot of people in life who are theorists. Theorists are people who … it may be that guy in the corner who’s in the library all day long … Old man with grey hair … he’s the master of the mind … of being a theorist. He got all of these books … Read about how the brain is supposed to work. That’s a theorist. He has all these theories on how it’s supposed to be done.
You want to be a practitioner in life. A lot of people who study theories will put these bars … these invisible bars and barriers in your mind about what we can and cannot achieve as human beings. That’s a theorist
A practitioner will listen to a man, like a theorist and defy the odds.
Never be a theorist. Be a practitioner. Be a guy who goes up there and actually does the work. Put yourself in situations, like when I was going through hell week … I got to see where my mind was.
130 hours. At hour 48, 72 your mind is a mess. You’re all over the place. A theorist would tell me what he thinks is going to happen. A practitioner dives into suffering and as he’s suffering, he is then writing the book while he’s suffering.
It’s easy to write a book while you are in a nice 72 degree library. Flipping the page. A practitioner writes a book when he’s in hell. When he’s in suffering. When it’s 50 degree water … Everybody’s quitting … Snot’s coming out your nose … That’s how you really start to figure out what the mind and body are capable of.
Don’t read a book about it, Don’t read what some man wrote. Put yourself in the environment. See how you start to talk to yourself in the worst times … In the worst situations.
And that’s how you start to develop that real self talk. That real visualization … The real tools to get through those hard times.
You have to be willing to suffer to get to the other side … and on the other side of suffering is a whole other world that people have no idea it even exists.https://www.fearlessmotivation.com/2018/11/19/david-goggins-the-interview-the-worlds-toughest-man/
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