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David Goggins (@davidgoggins) is extremely well known both for his military career and as an extreme athlete. In 2013 he set the record for pullups completed in 24 hours at 4025.He and the Commander talk about how he managed to evolve himself from a very difficult childhood by exercising his tremendous will. Learn how mental toughness is a lifestyle and how he does everything he doesn’t want to do to stay tough.
- His first 100 mile running race and how it changed his life
- How he went from the Air Force, to hunting cockroaches, to the SEALs by force of will
- His latest plans are to become a “Smoke Jumper,” wilderness firefighters that parachute into remote areas to fight forest fires
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Hey folks, welcome back to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. So stoked you’re joining me today. As you know, I don’t take it lightly. I know you have a lot of things distracting you and vying for your attention. But you will not be disappointed with our show today. This show is also being taped so you can find it at our YouTube channel, or at our website. But if you’re listening on iTunes, sitting next to me is the one and only David Goggins.
And I’ll tell you a little bit more about David is you don’t know him–which’d be surprising to me–in a moment.
Before we kick it off though, if you haven’t heard we are running a big charity event this year… it’s not actually an event, it’s an all year thing. We’re calling it “Burpees for Vets.” our objective is to do 22 million burpees and to raise a minimum of $250,000 for veterans who are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress.
Many people don’t know this, but 22 vets a day are committing suicide. It is unsat. We’re going to do our part and if you’d like to join us, go to burpeesforvets.com, #burpeesforvets, whatever. And there’s a few ways to join us. I won’t go into the details here, but we hope you do.
Let’s help raise awareness and funds and also create a direct support program to help these guys and ladies.
All right. David Goggins. Welcome buddy. So David–Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, Tactical Air Force CCT? Right?
David Goggins: I was a TACP.
Mark: TACP? Tactical Air Control.
David: Went to Delta force selection twice. They didn’t want me. Didn’t quit.
Mark: Oh, cool. I wanna talk about Delta selection. I know some folks who’ve been through that.
Ultra-runner… just generally a bad-ass. Like crazy mother…”F”er.
David: I don’t know about bad-ass. You can put crazy mother “F”er.
Mark: All right. We got a lot to talk about because when it comes to Unbeatable Mind community, we love to talk about resiliency, mental toughness, physical preparedness…
The things that go toward that like nutrition, sleep, recovery… all that’s interesting.
But also what drives people? What drives you to do what you do?
So before we get right into that juicy stuff, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who’s David? Where you from? What was life like when you were a little munchkin?
And what were some of the early influences that kind of shaped who you became?
David: I had so many different things that shaped me up. I mean, I was… I had an abusive father, growing up. He believed in himself. He believed in “my way or the highway.” He would wake up in the morning time and start drinking. So he was an alcoholic.
He had a bar and a skating rink. He used to run prostitutes from Canada to Buffalo, New York.
Mark: Good Lord.
David: So he had a big line of credit. All these banks, all these high-wig bankers in these different banks would love my dad. Cause my dad figured out… he was real smart. In every way possible. So he just said, “These men like women. I bring these prostitutes over. These men give me a line of credit at the banks.’
So that’s what he did. He set fire to a lot of his buildings, you know…
Mark: To collect insurance?
David: To collect insurance.
Mark: This guy’s a real gem. Wow.
David: Yeah. He is. Good guy, good guy.
So he was just a guy that didn’t care much about anything but himself. So he was an abusive guy. Beat the shit out of me, my mom, my brother growing up.
And around 8 years old, my mom got tired of all this, and just to back up a little bit… had a big time learning disability. I didn’t go to school much because my dad didn’t really… I don’t know if he so much believed in school. He believed more in the business. So his family business was the skating rink. So the skating rink could open up… from the time I was able to walk, I was working that skating rink.
And then at night-time the bar would open up. So we’d be downstairs cleaning up the skating rink–me and my mom and my brother. My dad would be upstairs at the bar and the bar would shut down about 3 o’clock. Me and my brother at about 10, 11 o’clock would be in the office sleeping.
And then we hardly went to school. So there was hardly no school, any interaction with kids. So I had big time social anxiety. I was just a really fucked up kid. Had a lot of stuff going on.
To make it worse–my mom left when I was about 8 years old. We moved to a small town called Brazil, Indiana. Brazil, Indiana has some great people in it, so don’t get me wrong.
Mark: This is Indiana?
David: Yeah, Indiana. Brazil, Indiana.
Mark: What an interesting name.
David: And a lot of great people there… great teachers there. But there were also a lot of racist people there. In 1995 the KKK was not allowed to march in our parade–the 4th of July parade. But they were allowed to march 100 or 200 feet behind. So this is 1995.
So a lot of people in that town get mad at me. I’m on a podcast every now and then. I mention how I came up. And they get upset.
And it’s funny to me, because they didn’t see what I lived. And the funniest thing about it to me, is put a white person in a town of 10,000 people that are all black.
Mark: (laughing) Yeah, see what happens.
David: Let me see how the fuck they feel about that shit.
So if you believe that my life there was great.
I give you a couple incidences that happened there. One time, I was at Pizza Hut and eating with a bunch of kids. Not everybody hated me. A lot of kids liked me. And this young girl’s dad came in Pizza Hut. Saw her there sitting with me at a table. Told her to get up and said, “I don’t want to see you sitting with the nigger again.” For all these people at Pizza Hut.
Another quick incident that happened there was a Spanish notebook of mine… we kept our Spanish notebooks in class. And never forget opening my Spanish notebook and on it, it said, “Nigger, we’re going to kill you.” My Spanish notebook.
David: So these were some of the incidents that happened there. And a lot of people in this small town didn’t know that I was hurting. Because I created 2 people. One was David Goggins–was the real me. This soft kid who was very insecure and learning disability. Stuttered from 3rd grade to about 7th grade.
This happened… this was social anxiety. Just being nervous and scared.
And not only that, my mom was going to get remarried when I was 14 years old, and he got murdered.
So it was just whenever I would try to overcome something… and my mom worked 3 jobs. Went to school full time. Just to paint a picture of just a very bleak life for myself. But it also created… I started looking for bad.
So instead of trying to find good in stuff. Let’s say right now… you and me are talking. I would look at you and say, “Okay. What the fuck is this guy…?” Everything that came out of your mouth, I’d be like, “What?” I’d be picking you apart thinking, “Are you judging me? Are you criticizing me?” So it was downward spiral growing up for me. And that learning disability really hurt me also because I basically started copying on everybody’s school work. So from 4th grade until my junior year in high school I cheated.
And half my life… it’s hard to talk about because it’s real. I was a survivor.
Mark: Yeah. This shit happened.
David: I found ways to get through situations. So that’s kind of how my childhood was.
Mark: My sense is there’s probably quite a few people like that. Lot of people came from abusive families. Lot of people… minorities were treated like shit in this country and so you’re not alone.
The difference is you’re able to talk about it. Which is huge.
Mark: So what was the turning point? What shifted the… flipped the switch for you?
David: There were a lot of turning points, and you’ll hear about it as we talk. But one big turning point was when I turned that Spanish notebook in. So I was in Spanish class, obviously. Opened that notebook up. It said, “Nigger, we’re going to kill you.” Had a drawing of me.
Actually talked to the principle, cause I’m in the process of writing my book right now. His name is Kurt Freeman. Yeah. I talked to him 2 days ago.
Mark: NO kidding.
David: He said, “I remember it like it was yesterday.” So I left my class. Didn’t tell a teacher. Went right to his office and showed him it, and he said… and I wasn’t a good speller at all. Obviously. I copied. And they spelled “nigger” “Niger” Didn’t know how to spell nigger, you know what I’m saying? They spelled “nigger” “Niger.”
So he looked at me and said “They’re ignorant.” And that was the best advice he could give me. My mom’s working 3 jobs. I was a latchkey kid. I was on my own. I did my own thing.
I missed almost all of my junior year of high school. Never went to school. Just did my own thing. And that was a turning point when I really realized I was on my own. It just kind of hit me, like, the best advice you can give me is just…
I think he called my mom up and I went back to class. And I realized that life isn’t fucking fair. It’s not fair. And you better figure out some tools and some ways to stop feeling sorry for yourself, cause no one is coming to rescue you. No one feels sorry for you.
And in the day, no one really cared about me. That’s how it felt. That was the reality of it.
Mark: Except for your mom.
David: Yes, my mom big-time cared but she was…
Mark: She was busy…
David: She was busy. When you have your soul taken from you–my dad did a good job of that–and then her soon to be… They were to get married the next month. He got murdered the day after Christmas. So the day after Christmas he got murdered.
So when your mom’s getting healed from this guy, and that guy gets taken from her. The downward spiral’s real. I remember after that happened, after we were going to the funeral and one thing that really messed me up is I went back to school after the Christmas break and the first day back at school, to this day it haunted me. Cause being a part of a murder is crazy. Plus having the mindset I had going into the murder. I wasn’t a strong kid anyway.
I went back to school and I was in junior high. So the junior high was from 1st grade to 8th grade. They had us in there.
And I’ll never forget on our bus route was supposed to pick up this young kid. And he has some cookies for the bus driver but forgot them. So his mom ended up taking them to school.
So our bus was parked there in the parking lot and I sat in the back of the bus. And I’ll never forget seeing them pull up and I looked out the window and I see him pull u with his mom. And the kid’s all excited to get the cookies to bring back to the bus driver. He’s freaking out. Oh my God, he’s excited. Cause the bus driver’s parked there and he forgot the cookies again.
Goes back to mom, hands him the cookies. And then I just looked forward. I looked forward in the bus and I was sitting there. The bus moved forward and I heard the mom screaming. And literally pulling her hair out of her head.
And I was like, “What the fuck is going on?” I look around and on the window–I didn’t know it was–but it was blood. On my back window. And I didn’t know what was going on.
So I put the window down and I looked and I saw the kid. And the bus had run over his head.
Mark: Oh my God.
David: So I talk about it because I was 14 years old, and having Wilmoth get murdered and then going into this. I ended up sleeping on the floor of my… I found comfort in the floor. And I tell you this just to let you know… I had to come a long way. To get in front of you to talk to you about my life.
Mark: That’s right.
David: So I slept on the floor for about 4 or 5 months just for fear. For some reason my mom… I would walk into my mom’s room and she slept on her chair. So I don’t know what the comfort was about that, but it was just a downward spiral.
And I came back to school… cause we actually moved to Indianapolis, Indiana and I came back to Brazil, Indiana and I’ll never forget one time coming out of school and they had written “Nigger, we’re going to kill you.” on my car. I had a brown Citation.
So, like I said, there was a lot of great teachers, great people there. I keep on saying that cause people get so sensitive. And I see a lot of sensitivity in that town. Not understanding what it takes to go through that being different.
Mark: How many other minorities were in that town?
David: Well, I think in the school I can name them all right now. 5 or 6 black people out of 2000. And then in the town itself, when I was there… I think it’s less than that now. I think it’s 8 to 9000 people now. But I was just one of 10,000 people. And no more than 10 black families.
And so it was just a small town in Indiana. And some of the best people I met were there, and also some of the worst people I met were there. So that’s kind of how I came up.
Joining the Military
And decided to go in the military…
Mark: So you graduated from high school though?
David: Barely. Barely graduated from high school. Graduated with a 1.7 GPA. Missed a whole bunch of school, but what got me on track was actually trying to join the military.
My junior year I decided I need to do something to change my life. So I settled on join the Air Force and be an Air Force Pararescue man. And who they are is guys that… I’m sure you know who they are, but people don’t know. They’re people that jump out of airplanes and save downed pilots or rescue people.
Mark: And how did you learn about them?
David: I met this guy called Scott Gerin. I was in this group called “Civil Air Patrol.”
Mark: Yeah, I was part of that myself, actually. It was pretty cool. We marched around. Had uniforms. Learned how to fly.
David: Great program. But they had a program where I learned how to fly. And also learned about para-rescue. And para-rescue was a cool job, and they had special camps. So at 15 years old, you could apply and go to this junior para-rescue camp. And once again, the only black kid there, and I hear this guy talking. Raspy voice. Name was Scott Guerin. This Air Force Para-rescue man had jumped out of a plane and a combat controller had gone through his parachute. Collapsed it.
He fell to his death pretty much… parachute malfunction. Everything happened wrong. And a couple of guys trached him, got him back alive and heard his story of survival.
I said, “Man, I wanna go be a pararescueman.” So that’s what got in my mind. But the thing about it was you gotta take a ASVAB test. I copied all through school, so I got to the ASVAB test–I thought I’d copy again. So the guy beside me…
Mark: And the ASVAB is like the…
David: The watered-down SATs…
Mark: (laughing) The SAT for military. Exactly.
David: (laughing) Watered-down SAT test. So not going to school I had to pretty much take this test. And the guy beside me that I was going to copy off of had test A, I had test B. The other guy had test C. And I was like, “Shit. I can’t copy.”
Mark: You’re on your own.
David: I’m on my own. I got a 20. Which is bad. I think you need a 50 to get in pararescue. Took it again, got 18 like a month later.
Then I had one more time to take it, but you had six months before you could take it for the 3rd time. So we lived in 7 dollar a month place for a while. It was called government subsidized apartments. Food Stamps.
Then we finally mooch a place that cost $230 a month. So money was tight for us growing up.
And my mom got a tutor for me. 4 hours not a day but for the month.
Mark: A specific ASVAB tutor or just a tutor?
David: Just a tutor, period. So I pretty much had to memorize all these different things. I worked my ass off, and I passed the test. So I got in the military. And the pararescue story goes kind of quick. I go through it pretty quick, but basically I realized my true fear of the water. And I was the only of the 36 African Americans to become a Navy SEAL. In the history of the SEAL teams. I’m sure you’re familiar with that.
Mark: Yeah, my roommate was one of them. Jimmy Man.
David: Oh nice!
Mark: Don’t know if you knew him.
David: I didn’t know him. But I didn’t know how scared I was of the water, so I got this packet right before the training program started, kind of teaching you how to get ready for the program. Like a warning order.
And it was push-ups, sit-ups all that stuff. I got to the last page it says swimming. I said, “Okay, I’ve never really swam. I’ll give it a try.”
So I got a “how-to” book on swimming. Went to the pool and that’s when I realized why a lot of blacks are not in Special Operations.
Mark: You sink.
David. I sink like a motherfucker. (laughing) I got in that water man, and this life guard was trying to hold me up. First thing you do in swimming is float. So I lay back on my back. The guy says, “Relax.” I relaxed. I lawn-darted to the bottom of that pool and I came up to the side and I was breathing all heavy. He goes, “Man, you’re fucked. You’re negative buoyant.”
I go, “Negative what?”
He goes, “You can’t float.”
So I put the same work ethic in as I put into my studies. I learned how to swim. So I got to pararescue. It was about 200 guys in my class. 1 black guy being me. And I passed the swim test, passed the running, push-ups, all that stuff…
And the next couple days we had this thing called “Water Confidence.” This is when you know how comfortable you are in the water. So people don’t know about “water confidence,” basically what it is is they pretty much trying to drown your ass under water.
They take away the one thing you’ve had your whole life which is breathing. And they want to see how comfortable you are in the water with different tasks. I hated it. I realized that it was brutal. It was brutal.
Mark: Same as “Pool Comp,” essentially?
David: Same as “Pool Comp,” essentially. But what this was… so pararescue was a 12 week long… 6 week long… either 6 or 12. It changes all the time. I think it’s 10 weeks long matter of fact.
Of basically pre-scuba school. That’s all it was. And we stayed in the water. That’s all OHS is, which is pararescue school when I went through. Is just that. That every day.
So for 6 weeks, I didn’t sleep. I was just terrified of going back to that water.
But I didn’t want to quit. Cause I always quit things in my life. When things got hard, I bounced out.
Mark: Where did that idea come from?
David: What’s that?
Mark: That you’re not going to quit?
David: Because I quit everything and I wanted to make a stand. And so once I finally got through the ASVAB test, I started feeling more confident. I can read, I can write. I taught myself something.
And I worked so hard on how to swim, that I started giving a little more confidence to myself…
Mark: You didn’t want to go backwards…
David: I didn’t want to go backwards. And so when everything got hard for me, I always went backwards. I said, “Not this time.” So I wasn’t going to quit regardless.
So but what happened was week 6 then pulled us all out–like 25, 30 guys left–and they drew my blood. They found out I had sickle cell. Sickle cells a blood disease that some African Americans have and under stressful situations…
Mark: It’s an anemia type situation?
David: Well I had sickle cell trait. But you can still die from it. So it’s called sudden death. It happens a lot.
And so they didn’t know. They’re like, “Well, you made it so far.” So they pulled me out of training for a week. And they want to do more studies, more tests, see what was going on.
They did all that stuff. I stayed out for a week, and I got real comfortable. So when you go from being uncomfortable to comfortable, your mind’s like, “I’m not going back in that water again.”
You saw your boys getting drowned and getting trashed in the water. You’re on the sidelines saying, “Unh-unh.”
So a week went by, the doc called me back up, and I’m thinking I’m gonna get medically disqualified from the Air Force. I’m like, “This is great. I’ll never have to quit. They’ll kick me out, I’ll never have to quit.”
So the doctor looks at me. Doctor says, “You know, we’re going to put you back in training.”
I said, “Oh shit.” But I thought to myself, “A week’s gone by. A couple weeks left and I’m out of here man. I made it through OLH. I can go try to be a pararescue man.
No, I went back to the CO, Sergeant Larkin, or Lumberg. Sergeant Lumberg looked at me and said, “I’m glad you’re back in training, man. But you gotta start from Day 1.”
And I was like, “Fuck.”
So my mind raced real fast, and I went right back to my old self. I had to find a way out of this. I cannot start back from day 1. But I don’t want to quit.
So I used that medical thing as an excuse for me to say, “You know what, Sergeant? I’m scared about this sickle cell thing…” I wasn’t scared about that. I was scared of the water.
I didn’t want to quit, so I found a way out without quitting. And the way out was him saying, “You know what? I understand.” So he gave me a medical. So I could keep my head up a little bit and not quit.
But my pride was shot. Cause I knew the truth. I knew that I had really quit.
So I did a job called Tac-P. Great, hardcore job. You work with infantry units. Some SEALs have Tac-P. Some Green Berets have it. Rangers. Everybody.
Mark: You call in the air support.
David: Yup, I call in the air support. So F-15s, F-16s–great job. You’re the only Air Force guy on the ground with hardcore dudes. But there’s no water. There was no water confidence involved. All land stuff.
Mark: That’s gotta be eating you up. Is that what made you think of the SEALs, then?
David: Eating me up. So I’m 175 pounds now, and in 3 years I went from 175 to 297.
Mark: Holy Shit.
David: So I gained 106 pounds.
Mark: Was that muscle or fat or both?
David: It was a lot of both. I ate my ass off. I felt comfort in eating cause you always have this thing hanging over your fucking head when you’re not doing right by yourself. And I basically quit pararescue training. I did quit pararescue training.
And it bothered me. It haunted me.
So I gained this weight. I try to become a power-lifter. I tried to find things I was good at. So I ran away from things that challenged me. So I got out of the Air Force weighing 297 pounds and started working for Eco-lab. Spraying for cockroaches. From 7 o’clock in the morning. And that became my life for a few months.
Mark: How many years were you in the Air Force?
David: 4 and a half years.
Mark: You did your whole tour.
David: Yeah, I did my tour. And just got out from there. And at 297 pounds with limited education–started spraying for cockroaches.
Mark: Wow. That sound great.
David: It was great.
Mark: (laughing) You can learn a lot from cockroaches…
David: Oh yeah. Really you can. Very surprising.
Mark: What’s the biggest lesson a cockroach taught you?
David: They taught me to get the fuck out of this job.
They taught me, “Man, you know what dude? You better sack it the fuck up and get out of this job. Because right now, the way your life is going, you’ll be 400 pounds by 5 years. But you might be the head cockroach guy.”
And I’m not making fun of guys that do that job at all. But it was the reality of my life. And at 297, I came home from work one day. I would spray down “Steak n Shake” as my last spray down. I knew the manager real well, and he would make this special shake for me man, with chocolate, little bit of vanilla, little bit of strawberry… When you’re depressed you like to eat and drink shakes, whatever.
Had a 45 minute commute home, in my car, and I’d stop by 7-11. Get a box of mini chocolate donuts. And I would eat those and drink the shake, and go home.
And I would get home, and I would pop the TV on. Walk back to the shower. Listen to the TV while I was taking a shower. And that was my day.
This day what came on was a Discovery channel show. It was the Discovery channel or History channel or…
Mark: “Making of Class 223” or something like that?
David: 223 or 224. Something like that.
Mark: I remember that. That was huge.
David: And 224 and it said, “The hardest training in the world,” or something. So, you know, I tried to be a pararescue so I wanna see what the fuck they’re talking about.
So I walked out, sat on the couch, start watching this. I saw the waves rushing over them. The snot bubbles. The jackhammer. The sugar cookie. The surf torture. The torture of what they were going through.
And I felt so small. I felt like I was what everybody said I was. Nobody. What I said I was. Nobody.
And I felt horrible. Horrible. And I watched it. And at the very end of it, I’ll never forget, the graduation ceremony… This was stuck to me. It stuck with me even to this day. The CO… Whoever gave the graduation speech said…
Mark: Rick Smithers.
David: Was it? Smothers. “We live in a society where mediocrity is often rewarded.” And he went on to talk about something, something, something. “These men… men like this…detest mediocrity.”
And I heard that and I saw him standing up there with so much pride. And I saw the 18, 16 men that sat in their dress whites who were graduating. I saw the 150 guys that were ringing the bell, quitting and shit.
And I said, “I wonder how it feels? To be that motherfucker sitting there in that white uniform knowing that all these other guys came who were just as good as me. Or better than me. And I’m sitting here at the very end of it all.”
I’d never had a feeling of completion. A feeling of success.
And I said, “I gotta face this water. I gotta face this fear.”
And I was like literally at 297, I just started calling. So I called up different recruiters. Active duty recruiters and they got into the conversation about how much I weighed and this and that. And to cut to the chase, they all pretty much laughed me off the phone. Like, “you know, man, you’re 6 foot 1 and 297. You can only be 191.” Height and weight limits and everything else. And I was way exceeding those. With prior service and everything else. I was one of those not too good of recruits to pick up.
So I went to the reserve recruiter. Stephen Saljo, was my recruiter. I walked in weighing 297. He looked at me strangely and I said, “I wanna be a SEAL.”
And lucky enough the guy looked at me and said, “Let’s see what we can do.”
He weighed me–I weighed 106 pounds overweight. And this was during the whole 1999 transition to 2000, so the whole computer glitches and everything else. People were worried.
So they wanted to get me into this class because this reserve program that I was going to be a part of was going to end. So basically, as a reservist…
Mark: Did you go through 2 BUD/S from the reserve? I remember that. It only lasted for a couple of years.
David: Yeah. And I was in it. That’s why I had to lose weight so fast. So as a reservist, the guy said, “Man, there is a program. It’s about to end. That you can go and if you make it through BUD/S you’ll then go active duty. And you’ll be a SEAL.”
“If not, you’ll come the fuck home.”
And I was like “Unh.” So anyway, he made me lose 106 pounds in less than 3 months. I said, “I can’t lose that weight.”
Went back to work, a bad day happened. I found a lot of cockroaches, a lot of rodents. On the way home driving, I said, “This is my life. My life is this. This is my life. I’m not that smart. I’m depressed. I have a horrible life. ”
I have these two guys, one guy that… so I became this 297 pound person, cause it became my body armor. Because the inside was a fragile, weak, insecure kid so I put this big man around it. So when people looked at me, I intimidated them. I scared them.
But if they knew the real me… just a little punk. I was a little punk kid in a 24 year-old guy’s body.
So I knew that. No one else did. So I tried to change my life. And it started there. I went to the recruiter’s office. I went there. Bad day at work. The bad day at work made me realize that I gotta make a stand.
Mark: So how did you lose the weight in 3 months? You just run your ass off, or…?
David: (laughing) I couldn’t run. The first thing about it was I say to myself, “I’m going to run 4 miles. My first run off the gate, I’m gonna run 4 miles.”
I ran a quarter of a mile, walked home, sat on the couch depressed. I said, “Man, there’s no way I can do this.”
But what I realized though is I wasn’t going to give up. Cause I’d already given up a million times. And I thought about how would I feel at 50 years old if I gave up now?
I mean, so I kept all the stuff in my mind. Basically, I started becoming obsessed. I slowly… it didn’t happen that night on the couch. Over a period of time I started becoming obsessed with studying, with weight, with being somebody. With making people who thought I was going to be nothing, feel like shit.
I became obsessed with “You have to make this right. And the only person who’s going to do it is yourself.” So I became obsessed with just being obsessed. And that’s what it was man.
Mark: You know, for anyone to get through SEAL training you have to be a little obsessed. And a little bit crazy focused.
But to come from where you came through, you gotta be doubly obsessed.
David: And that’s what happened.
Own your own brain
Mark: So you were essentially saying, “I gotta become the man who’s capable of getting into this program.”
David: I had to get to the start line.
Mark: Yeah, to get to the start line.
David: But that’s what happened.
Mark: Cause most of the guys who are there are pretty studly. Top athletes.
David: They’re good to go. “I went to the Academy. My dad was a SEAL” Shit. My family couldn’t even swim. You know what I’m saying?
We had no athletes in my damn family. And I was a kid who kind of got the bad genes. All these little sickly issues… I was allergic to shit. I was a little sickly kid. And it’s funny how when people hear my story now, they want to put a title on me. Like, I’m “superhuman.”
Mark: Yeah, like you had some special capabilities…
David: And I love it because basically it makes you feel better. By putting a title on me. You can do it too.
Mark: It’s a choice.
David: Yeah, it’s a choice. It’s a horrible choice. It’s a hard choice. It’s a lot of suffering involved. So for me to get to the start line… through that start line journey I realized, “Shit. I’m capable.”
So what happens is this whole process is the change of the mind. The changing of the guard. Someone once owned my brain. I never owned it. I had no control over…
Mark: You outsourced it.
David: That’s right. It was my dad’s fault. It was the kids who called me “Nigger” fault. My mom wasn’t home fault. My soon-to-be stepdad’s fault. The little kid that got run over by the bus fault.
My life was everybody had a piece of my fucking brain.
And through this journey of suffering, and the suffering… I started finding myself. And I’m like, “Taking this fucking back from you. This part of my brain is mine now.”
And I started puzzling back this piece of my brain. And through that I grew confidence. And then when I got to BUD/S…
Mark: Can I ask you, so at… How do I even say this, cause I’m trying to think through what that process was like. Were you getting like insights after insights that allowed you to pull your brain back? Pull control back?
Or did it just kind of happen really, really subtly? Were there like leaps, where all of a sudden you just said, “Screw it. My dad… I don’t owe him anything and he doesn’t have control over me anymore.”
Or was it emotional? Mental? I mean, help me out here on your stand. Were people…? We’re talking about 3 months here of transformation… There’s some magic that happens.
David: Yeah. But think about this. We get to the 3 months pretty quick in my story. But the thing about it though, this is years of conversation in a very dark… I mean a very bad dark. Sometimes you gotta go dark to get places.
Mark: Yeah, I get that.
David: This is a bad dark. Where I had this internal conversation with myself a lot. And I knew I had to make a stand. I knew where I was going. I knew where this road led, that I was on.
And I was afraid. I was afraid to make that stand. So this process was going on a long time in my mind. I was afraid of this, afraid of that, afraid of this, afraid of that. I knew I had to face this shit, man.
But through facing a lot of this stuff, that’s what started happening to me. Through facing it I started getting more and more courage. Very fast.
Mark: One thing at a time.
David: One thing at a time. So when I overcame the water… more courage. When I overcame the fear of myself, the fear of failure, the fear of being judged… I made… in this process, I went from David Goggins… I started forming a guy named Goggins. I had to really invent… I realized I had to reinvent a whole ‘nother human being within myself because who I am wasn’t going to make it. This guy’s not going to cut it.
So I had to be a guy who can take any kind of pain. Any kind of suffering. Any kind of torture mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I had to have the people who… I had to visualize everybody that called me “Nigger,” you had to be in a room with people like this.
I had to make up these things in my mind of things I had to overcome. And I started callousing my mind. Through a process… it started with working out. It started with doing… if it started raining outside, for instance, my mind would say, “Fuck that, man. I’m going to go run.”
If it was 3 o’clock in the morning start raining outside, my mind said, “You gotta go run. You have to.”
Because I was fighting this other person.
Mark: So you essentially tried to do everything you didn’t want to do.
David: That’s all it was. Period. Everything I didn’t want to do is what got me to where I’m at today. Every single thing.
So where we find comfort, that’s where I started getting scared. When I started saying, “Oh it’s raining. I’m not going out there.” No. You cannot say that. You cannot do that. You have got to do this.
So whatever my brain thought, I did the opposite. Whatever the comfort was I went the opposite direction. And over a period of time, boy it callouses the shit out of your mind. You start to really develop a whole ‘nother being.
And I saw this kid who was once scared and afraid, start to…
Mark: I love this idea–I’m sorry. I’m so fascinated with this idea of visualizing the biggest challenge and then conquering it in your mind. Because that’s really… that’s super-powerful. We call that winning in our mind, before you set foot on the battlefield in our training.
And you did this just naturally. You figured it out.
David: Well, what drove me a lot and it’s kind of funny. Growing up, being the kid I was, I found strength in different movies. So I come home, and one movie I found a lot of strength in… As funny as it may seem… but I visualize it today. During the pull-up record–4030 pull-ups–the last time I did I actually got it. Took me three times. I played one song for 17 hours pretty much. And it’s from this movie–Rocky I, round 14. I related to the person in the movie. But just the one scene.
When Apollo’s beating the shit out of Rocky, he falls in the corner, and everybody… And Apollo turns around arms up, happy as shit, “I got this guy.” He turns around not knowing that Rocky’s trying to get up off the canvas. Mickey, his trainer, is saying “stay down.” Everybody’s saying “stay down. You did good. You went 14 rounds with the champ.”
Rocky didn’t hear shit. He got up. And it’s fixed in my mind today… I’m seeing it right now. When he got up, Apollo starts to turn around to see the aftermath of what the fuck he just destroyed. And he did not expect to see what he saw. And what I see out of the whole movie, I see Apollo Creed’s face.
Mark: Yeah, fear crept in.
David: Yes. And I said to myself as a young kid, “I want to be that.” I don’t need to win. I don’t need trophies. I don’t need people to fucking like me. I just want what he has. A fictional character… whatever the hell it was… I want that. And I visualized that. And I want to become the guy who can get off the canvas and look at somebody who beat the fucking shit out of him…
Life, we’re talking about life right now. And even life herself pushed her head toward David Goggins. This motherfucker is not going to stop.
So that mentality became what I wanted. And that’s how it started with that visualization of the canvas. And all I got to do is just keep getting up.
Mark: And the training of physically challenging yourself is what opened the doors. And then that led you to the emotional healing, cause you gotta expose yourself to extreme discomfort and pain… Interesting.
David: And then the pride that comes along with it is… you can’t buy it.
Mark: So what about your BUD/S class? And what was that like? What did you learn there?
David: So I was in 3 Hell weeks in one year.
Mark: Cool. Holy shit. One wasn’t enough for you?
David: I know, right? So I was in a special… me being that reservist, it screwed me. You can only be gone for 10 days. If you weren’t in training, you got sent back home.
Mark: I thought you had to be on active duty to go to BUD/S.
David: You got active duty, but once something happened… if you get medically rolled or something like that. So what happened was in my first Hell week… it starts on Sunday.
David: I got a couple days into Hell week and “bam” I had some injuries. Got rolled. Got rolled to the very next class. Went home for a little bit, had to start Day 1 of the next class.
ENDOC. Start Day 1 of ENDOC… went through all that part got to Hell week.
Got through Hell week. The second time around. Was getting ready to start up in second phase. Broke my knee.
Mark: No shit.
David: Got sent home. I was gone from 231 to 235. Being in this special program, “You’re starting from Day 1, buddy.” Started from Day 1 again…
Mark: That’s like a year. That’s like 4 classes. It was almost a year. 9 months, isn’t it?
David: Yeah. So my first was in March, and my third Hell week was in March the next year.
Mark: Holy cow. And so at home you just trained your ass off?
David: No, I was actually trying to heal. So when I came back… I was broken. I actually came back to BUD/S… I was the duct tape man. Because I had such bad stress fractures that I would put the black sock on, get duct tape, and I would tape…
And what’s funny, I’m gonna show you right now. Which is kind of crazy, but I gotta do it to you. Cause you’re here with me.
This is the remnants of 2001. See that right there?
David: So I would put that little gauze right there. I would duct tape my feet all the way up to the top of my calf. And so when you move that part of your ankle, that starts to develop a nice sore. So over 6 months that sore got bigger, and bigger and bigger on both ankles.
So basically, that’s how I got through. So for my stress fractures, I taped up my ankles. So for the first 30 minutes, the pain was so fucking excruciating. But then guess what happens?
Mark: Focusing, yeah.
David: It goes numb. But then at night-time, you’re taking that shit off. The blood flows back through and it’s real painful. So that’s how I got through.
And so it was my last time. They weren’t going to let me go through again. So I had to do what I had to do.
Mark: Yeah, right.
David: So that’s what I had to do.
Mark: Did you learn anything about leadership that was noteworthy at BUD/S and SEAL training? Cause now you’re working with a team. It’s not just the new David Goggins. “I gotta prove to myself that I can be a SEAL.”
You’re working with other teammates. You’re relying on them for a lot of sport and vice versa.
I can imagine that would be kind of an interesting transition for you, because you didn’t have that growing up.
David: Right. And I struggled with it in the SEAL teams. And I’m not afraid to admit it. One thing that got me, and I dived deep into it. I’ll dive deep into it later on, but one thing that got me real bad was once you realize…
So I had this image of the SEALs. And the image of the SEALs kind of hurt me a little bit. Because I thought everybody had to…
I was training for this standard. This standard of every day you gotta kick ass, man. You gotta do 10 mile runs, and swim 5 miles… I bled this shit. It became who I was. Before I got to BUD/S.
And then as I went through BUD/S–3 Hell weeks–I got to see a lot of guys. Not a lot. There’s a few guys that get through BUD/S that hang onto the coattails of hard dudes.
Mark: That’s true. 10% rule I call it.
David: Hang on, dude. And they get through and that’s it.
Mark: (laughing) Yeah, they’re drafted. All the way.
David: And I got to see that, and it pissed me off. But going back to your leadership question, what hurt me the most was my expectations of myself were so high. Once I got through all this shit that I went through as a kid, and I realized a human being can do so much more. And I put myself around these uncommon people. And I was like… it wasn’t that for me. I wanted everybody to do what I was doing. So I would get an attitude at the guys, if all the guys weren’t getting up doing a 20 mile ruck.
If the guys weren’t getting up, getting hard every day.
Yeah, they got hard a lot of them, but I had this different standard. So I had poopy pants, I get mad.
Mark: Yeah, and I get that. It might surprise some of the listeners to know that there are guys who kind of throttle back after BUD/S. And then when they get into a platoon, it’s a big problem.
Btu there are then platoons that kind of attract those guys and they don’t perform very well.
David: Yes. They fall back. And that hurt me though. Cause as a leader the one thing I did fucking horribly wrong is I got… I never forget… I screened for SEAL team 6. After my first platoon. No one does that.
I got picked up. And…
Mark: You deploy with them?
David: No, I never did. So I got picked up after my first platoon out of SEAL team 5 for Green team. And after my second platoon, this is when things started going bad…
Mark: Green team, if you don’t know listeners, the training program for DEVGRU SEAL team 6.
David: So basically what happened to me… this is the first time I’ve actually talked about it openly. But who gives a shit?
Talking about leadership. On my second platoon I actually started developing an attitude about people who didn’t PT hard. Who didn’t get after it.
I know I took it all the way to the limit. So I should have been a better leader by knowing not everybody wants to be David Goggins. Not everybody want to go run 100 fucking miles. Not everybody…
Mark: Everyone’s got different skills…
David: Everybody got different skill sets, and maybe they want to go the gym. Whatever. The gym is fine, but it was just a different standard. So I couldn’t take away my standard for the whole of the group. I looked at people like, “Fuck you man. You gonna try to get fuckin’ hard? Fuck you.”
So my mentality, I wasn’t a good leader. And I look back on that now… Trust me a lot of people could have done things differently. I’m taking accountability for what I could have done differently.
I’ve looked at that… so my mentality from a weak kid became super-hard. Like, beyond hard. Next level hard.
And… But that’s what I thought I was getting myself into. As a leader I should have stepped back and say, “These are your expectations, David Goggins. What are we here to accomplish?”
Mark: Right. You’re on a mission. You got a mission, you got a team to accomplish it, it’s not all about…
David: Right. So you know in the SEAL teams, the community’s real small. I came home to get my orders to go to Green Team, never got them. So I got shitty. “Oh, you guys are against me now. Okay. I see what’s going on.”
That’s how I ended up going to Delta Force. Trying out for them a couple of times. Pissed more people off.
Mark: But you did that as a SEAL, because anybody can go screen if you’re active military and you’ve got the credentials.
David: Yeah. But the thing about it is we have our own. We have our own SEAL team 6. So for a SEAL to go screen for Delta, they don’t like that.
Mark: Yeah, you’re not the only one who’s done it though. There have been a bunch of team guys who’ve gone after that.
David: So you get tagged. So basically, yeah… it’s important to lead by example. If I say lead by example, if you’re the leader it’s the loneliest job on the planet. And if you do it, you have to be up early. You have to leave late. You got to do the sucky jobs. At least, that’s how I look at it.
You gotta be the man that is always the person who’s being held accountable to the highest standard. And not expecting your people to do anything that you’re not going to do 20 times more than they are. Even when you’re the leader.
And it’s all about accountability for yourself. In leadership roles. It’s not about being pissed because people aren’t doing what you’re doing. Everybody’s got different skill sets.
Mark: Yeah. I had a couple friends in the helicopter that went down. The QRF for Redwings… Then I had a few more friends from team 3 who were in the… I think it was a helicopter also that went down in Afghanistan. They were shot down. I’m forgetting the name of that Op.
David: Operation Redwings?
Mark: Well, Redwings was Marcus Lutrell but then couple years later, there was an…
David: 2012 I think you’re talking about.
Mark: Yeah, and a helicopter was shot down with a bunch of DEVGRU guys. I had a few friends on that.
David: I have a guy’s bike from that. JT.
Mark: Yeah. A bunch of team 3 guys had gone on to DEVGRU. Lu-Lang Lis, Chuck Mills all those guys were killed in that.
Anyways for me… and I was a reserve officer at the time… And I actually transitioned out in 2011, 2012. But it just really impacted me. The number of team guys who were killed in combat after 2001.
And that wasn’t… see, my experience was kind of almost peace time. Except as a reserve officer I got recalled to go to Iraq. And that’s when I got to taste war, but nothing like the operators who were kicking down doors.
It sounds like you had… you were impacted by the loss of some teammates. And what did that… what was that experience like? What did you do with that?
David: It was big for me. I was in BUD/S for so long and went through so many different times–Hell week and stuff. I was in BUD/S class with Danny Deets. Who was on that Op. I was on with Michael Murphy. Congressional Medal of Honor winner. I was around the same time as Marcus Lutrell. Marcus Lutrell’s twin brother… I was there for him to go through.
Mark: No shit.
David: I was there for a lot of the guys on the QRF team. Guy named… good guy… I hate that I forget his name. Anyway, he got the honor man in my BUD/S class 230.
Mark: Chris Christenson?
David: No. BUD/S class 230. He was in that chopper that went down. So all these different guys, I knew them all. And I was at Freefall School during the incident with Morgan Lutrell–Marcus Lutrell’s twin brother. And I got the information before Morgan did about the Op. Happened the last day of Freefall School.
Starting Extreme Running
So we’re getting ready to graduate, and I went to tell Morgan what happened. And Morgan knew his brother wasn’t dead. No one else knew if he was dead or alive. But Morgan knew he wasn’t.
Mark: Just cause he was a twin, he could feel it?
David: Yeah. He could feel it.
So 4 days later I get a call from Morgan saying they found Marcus alive. I was like, “Shit, man, that’s crazy.”
So a few months later it was still haunting me a little bit. I was like, “I gotta find something to do.”
So at this time I was much bigger. I was into bodybuilding and my cardiovascular activity was the elliptical trainer for 20 minutes every Sunday. Was my cardio.
So me and this guy named Scott Pickendover, got off on this crazy workout routine of volume. Lots of repetitions. Lots of push-ups. Lots of sit-ups. Lots of leg presses. But no running.
So anyway, I heard about it. Googled the ten hardest races in the world. And what came up was this race called the Badwater 135. 135 mile run through Death Valley. 130 degrees.
Mark: To the top of Mount Whitney isn’t it or something like that?
David: It’s to the portal. The Portal of Mount Whitney. Starts from the lowest part of the Western Hemisphere to the Portal of Mount Whitney.
And so I found a great foundation. Special Operations Warrior Foundation. I said, “I’m going to raise money for these guys.”
But I didn’t know that this race was a one day race. I thought it was a stage race.
Mark: (laughing) Just for completion.
David: Yeah, I thought “shit. 135 miles. You probably get two weeks to do this. Whatever.”
So I’d only run 20 miles was my longest run ever. And this year I’d just got back from Iraq, went to freefall school, I hadn’t done any running at all.
And so called up Chris Kostman the race director for Badwater. He said to qualify for my race… I called him up on a Wednesday. So to qualify for my race, you got to run 100 miles in 24 hours or less.
And I was like, “Is that even fucking possible? This is crazy, man.” I didn’t know about this world.
So he said, “There’s a race. You gotta qualify but there’s only 2 races left pretty much. It was that race and the race called Hurt 100 in Hawaii. One of the hardest trail races in the world, which I knew nothing about that world at all.
So the first race was on Saturday. Call him up on Wednesday. It’s Saturday. And it’s called the San Diego One day, where you run around a 1 mile track for 24 hours to see how many miles you can get.
Mark: Good God.
David: I was a big time knucklehead, and I don’t know if you know Joe Burns or not.
Mark: I know Joe well, yeah.
David: The first… so it was a Friday before… 3 days after I called Chris Kostman. I got Joe Burns in the gym working out. And I was like, “you know what man? I’m gonna get hard.”
Joe put me through 3 of my Hell weeks. He was the lead instructor.
So I said, “I’m gonna go get hard with Joe Burns.” he was into doing heavy squats, dead lifts, power cleans. Just garanimal workout. And I’m going to run 100 miles the very next day.
So I go in there unknowing… just team guy shit. I’m going to go in there and lift some weights.
With the hard day, next morning… 10 o’clock in the morning, I’m out on this track with a blue lawn chair, myoplex and Ritz crackers. That’s my nutritional plan for 24 hours of running, right?
So the first 50 miles were fine. Not too bad.
Mark: How long did that take you?
David: I’m not too sure. It took me 12 hours to do 70 miles. I do know that.
Mark: That’s pretty good.
David: Pretty good clip. Especially if you’re not a runner. I was real tapered obviously.
But this next 30 miles is what… Hell week, Ranger school all this. Nothing will ever… the learning experience I got from mile 70 to mile 101–cause that’s what I ended up getting–changed my life forever.
I thought I had gone through all these different crucibles in my life. And I thought I was at the pinnacle of mental toughness, as they call it. Mental toughness. Whatever.
Mental toughness is a lifestyle. It’s not a class.
So I was here, I thought, “Man, I’m exactly… I’m way up here in mental toughness wise. My mind says ‘Great'”.
Mile 70 I sat down in this chair and my nutrition was so bad, my plan was so messed up, I sat down and I literally had to go to the bathroom so bad. I hadn’t gone to the bathroom in 12 hours. And that Ritz cracker was basically a Ritz Cracker ball. Because without the proper water… I was just jacked up.
So I sat there and at the time I was married. And I couldn’t stand up and I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I basically sat there and took a shit on myself. Start peeing blood.
And my ex-wife used to be… I don’t know if she is or not. I don’t know what she’s doing now… but she was a nurse. And I was in bad shape.
But I hadn’t really gone to the bathroom that bad yet. Not like I did afterwards. But I was pretty bad.
Mark: (laughing) TMI.
David: Yeah. I was pretty bad. But the thing was I couldn’t get up. My mouth was all messed up. But one thing I realized that kills most people in any kind of training. in life… just life period… is we get so anxious and in that 1 or 2 or 3 seconds. I call it the 1 second decision… you seize up but you flood the compartment–which is your brain–of all this shit. The “What ifs.” Oh my God. You spaz out and then you quit. And once you quit, you regret it.
Happens all the time in Hell week. 130 hours, you get in the first hour they freeze your ass off. And you can’t comprehend 130 hours of this shit. You’re freezing. You’re not going to go home that night. You’re not going to I Love pasta to get the pasta meal that night. Your ass is mine.
And you can’t handle it. So I started just learning these processes of calming my brain down. I’m in the worst shape of my entire life. I’ve gone 70 miles, I’ve never gone past 20 miles. I’m horrible. It’s a great, rewarding feeling, but it’s also a feeling of the worst pain I had in my life.
My feet are broken, I’m messed up bad. And I had to take this big pile of shit and slowly start to compartmentalize what was in front of me. And the first thing was, “You can’t stand up. Your blood pressure’s messed up so you can’t go another 30 miles unless you be able to stand up. Fix that.”
Got around those issues. I was able to stand up. Got on the track again. And I was barely making it around the track, and then this is what changed my life to this day. And I can’t really imagine anything ever topping it.
At Mile 81, my ex-wife looked at me and she said, “You’re not going to make this time.” Cause I was making 37 minutes mile. I was barely getting around the track.
The shape I was in at Mile 70 was the worst shape of my life. I can’t say it enough. I end up running the next 20 miles. Didn’t walk another step. And I did it in 18 hours and 56 minutes.
And what I believe happened to me is when my mind, body, spirit, everything for the first time… and it’s never happened again, since that time.
Everything really connected. When my mind knew, “He’s not going to quit, this race.”
Mark: Yeah, you have to do this. This is non-negotiable.
David: Yes. Non-negotiable. I gave myself no way out. My mind said, “We have to find more.”
Mark: Do you think…? We talk a lot about spiritual strength as a reserve–like tapping into life force. Energy that can flow into you to support your efforts so you’ve gone beyond just gutting it out. Gone beyond just what your physical body could possibly do.
David: Mm-hmm. I went way beyond that.
Mark: Did you feel that energy was that sort of energy?
David: I try not to go there a lot with it. That’s exactly what it was. It was something that I can’t even… my mind knew, “This guy’s not going to stop.” And it wasn’t like I willed myself to the finish line. I ran 20 miles when I couldn’t walk a quarter mile hardly. I ran 20.
And I can’t… people are like, “What?” That’s what happened.
Mark: There’s no explanation for it. It just happened
David: That’s what happened.
Mark: It’s kind of like saying, “Well, how did that woman pick up the car off her son? She just lifted her frickin’ 4000… How did that happen?” There’s no explanation for it.
David: And that’s when I realized that the human mind is the most amazing thing ever.
Mark: That’s insane. I love that.
Mark: So what are you doing now? You’re doing a lot of speaking. I know you’re still running these adventure events. And trying to break world records. What’s going on now?
David: I’m still training…
Mark: What’s your big vision right now for your future?
David: Well, right now, I had horrible health issues for the last 5 years. And so worked on that for a while. And…
Mark: You think it’s related to the extreme training that you did?
David: It’s related to… I won’t go too deep into it, but a lot of it just has to do with the body being tight. Wound to tight.
Mark: Need yoga man.
David: And yoga helps out. Different things help out. So I actually developed some programs that I’ve been doing for a long time that help me out. Basically now what I do now is I’m actually going to hopefully be a Smoke Jumper.
Mark: Right on.
David: So get back out there again. Took some time off to get my health back up. Get back out there again. I still run the crazy races. I still train crazy. I still believe in embracing the suck. I still believe in do things that make you not comfortable.
Mark: Now you do it to inspire others, it seems.
David: I do it to inspire others, but it’s also still important for me to realize that you haven’t arrived.
Mark: Right. There’s no there there.
David: Right. A lot of people that get that… Some people, not a lot. Who get that trident. “I’ve made it.”
Mark: I’m with you on that. I feel like I’m just getting warmed up. In my own way, but…
David: And that was my issue and no. I haven’t arrived.
I have a big resume that I’m very proud of, but I haven’t arrived at all.
Mark: You know, we use a quote from the Smoke Jumpers, “Do today what others won’t, do tomorrow what others can’t.”
David: “What others can’t.” That’s right.
Mark: That’s killer. If I could do something right now–I don’t have time for it because of my shit–I would go be a Smoke Jumper. I mean, I think fire service is just awesome.
And if you wanted to be a pararescue, then…
David: It’s the same difference.
Mark: It’s the same thing. SEALs go take lives. SEALs are awesome.
But pararescue and Smoke Jumpers and paramedics, firefighters, they’re first responders who save lives. That’s such an honorable profession.
Mark: I hope you do that.
David: Well it looks pretty good, right now. Looks pretty good.
Mark: All right, David, you’ve been one of our most requested guests for the Unbeatable Mind podcast, and so Allison had them submit some questions. And I got a bunch of questions. You cool with that? If we do a little Q&A here?
David: Let’s do it man.
Mark: These are from our Unbeatable Mind podcast listeners. And some of these are pretty damn good, I gotta admit.
First one–what is your “why?”
David: My “why?”
Mark: Why do you do this shit? Why do you do what you do?
David: My “why” changed a lot. It changes a lot, but right now my “why” to not lose what I have. To not lose what I’ve developed. To not lose what… it took me a lifetime to get to where I’m at today. And my “Why” is I always wasn’t to improve myself to improve other people. For a long time there, this journey was lonely. And as I got to the top of it, I realize now looking back, how many people are struggling. Just like me. And not everybody had… I mean, I didn’t have any tools either. I had tools, but I figured a lot of tools out along the way. And now it’s always a good job to go back and give the toolbox to people that can help them out.
Mark: Nice. I like that.
And what was–you’ve been through some of the most demanding military training–SEALs, Rangers, TACP, Delta. What was the most important lesson that you learned from the military. This is the second question.
David: Most important lesson learned from the military.
I would have to say… it’s teamwork is very important. But there’s something much more than that. If you are not a good individual… so team is everything. But in that team–say a boat crew of 6 people. You have to be a very strong individual and don’t always look to be led. And when things are fucking disgustingly hard… that’s what I learned. It’s those times when even the hardest motherfuckers in the world are looking around for guidance, it’s that one motherfucker. Be that one motherfucker.
When even you are saying to yourself, “Boy, this fucking sucks. I don’t want to fucking be here, right now.” And you look in all the guy’s eyes around you… And you’ve seen it.
Mark: Oh yeah.
David: The eyes just go down like, “Fuck man. We ain’t getting the fuck out of here. This is brutal.”
Be that guy who finds the fucking courage to say, “Know what, man? Let’s do this.” So that’s what the one big thing I learned. Be that one. Of the warriors, be that one motherfucker that says “Fuck it.”
Mark: Yeah, the one guy that brings the other 100 home.
David: 100 hard motherfuckers. Be the hardest of them all. That’s what I realized.
Mark: Very cool.
Jesse Itzler wrote a book. “Living With a SEAL.” He says he learned some things from you. What did you learn from him?
David: I get that question a lot, about what I learned from Jesse Itzler. What I learned from Jesse Itzler–and I hope that people don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m a pretty straight-forward guy. About myself and everybody else that’s involved.
It’s fucking real hard to get uncivilized when you are civilized. Once you’ve gone to that place where you have everything a man could want, trying to go back into the fucking gutter… Cause the gutter’s where you fucking get hard. You don’t get fucking hard, outside the fucking gutter. You get hard in the sewer.
So taking a person–and that’s what I realized to myself, I cannot… my life is good right now. But I can’t let it be too good ever. I have to remind myself that these callouses on my hands come from hard work.
And the second your hands get soft, everything else gets soft with it…
Mark: Stand by.
David: Stand by. Its coming. So what I learned is that you can have too much. You can have too much and your mind goes with it. Your mind goes with it.
Mark: Yeah, the warrior travels light and is simple. And does the work every day. That’s really interesting.
Cause there is a huge movement toward weekend warriors. We have a ton of people come to SEALFIT events. And even with our 50 hour Kokoro camp, only 30% of the guys are making it through. And I think you just identified… that’s why. Cause it may be inspiring, but man, it’s work. You gotta do the work.
David: Everybody’s looking for the 6 minute ab routine. Everybody wants to say, “You know what? Can I run a 100 miles tomorrow? Can I achieve this tomorrow? Can I achieve that in 2 days?”
How about this. Let’s compromise. I wanna lose weight, but I wanna keep my cappuccino. That’s not how the fucking shit works man. That’s not how it works.
A lot of people lose weight those ways, it’s not a fix…
Mark: They don’t lose it for very long.
So what’s your daily routine look like right now?
David: Pretty easy. Every day of my life. I wake up, I eat a little something small. Little protein, something. Go out for my run. Come back. Go right to the gym.
After the gym I start my daily routine of…
Mark: Let’s talk about the run and the gym real quick. What’s the run like?
David: The run is minimum 8 miles. Maximum of 30 miles.
Mark: Nice. And you gotta plan…it’s not just random. You don’t just go, “I think I’ll do 8 today.”
David: Right. It’ll vary.
And then I’ll come back. I will do my gym workout which is an upper body, lower body routine usually. I won’t go too deep into it, but I believe in calisthenics and also weight training. I believe in being the most dangerous person on the planet. A person that can run a hundred miles…
David: That’s right. Can you run a hundred miles? Can you dead-lift 550? Can you do 50 pull-ups dead-hang? Can you do 100 push-ups?
I believe in being the best at all these different categories. People say it’s impossible to do that stuff. It’s not. Takes a lot more work.
Mark: Okay, so then after your gym workout what’s next?
David: After gym workout I do work as far as like, we have the work for the day and that varies. A lot of times now it’s studying for different classes. Trying to get the whole mental thing on, always.
And then at night time, every single night I stretch out. For at least 2 hours.
Mark: 2 hours?
David: At least 2 hours a night. This has been happening for 5 years. I’ve missed 2 nights, in 5 years.
Mark: Do you do anything while you’re doing your stretching? Listen to a podcast, watch TV, read a book…?
David: I do a lot of thinking.
Mark: A lot of breathing, thinking… do you have a journal with you when you do it?
David: I’ve journaled my life since 2005, yup.
Mark: Nice. I like that. It’s a good routine.
Now that’s a single person’s routine. How’s it going to change when you’re married?
David: I’m pretty much married now. Beautiful fiancé over there looking at me.
Mark: (laughing) Waiting for this answer.
David: I’ve kept the same routine. So I had to find someone… cause one thing I don’t want to ever do in my life. I believe in the whole compromise thing. All this relationship stuff, whatever.
But I also believe in…
Mark: Not compromising your values.
David: I like who I am. And I’m not going to compromise that for anybody. Ever. I’ve worked too fucking hard to finally get somewhere so I could look in the mirror, and not be like, “Fuck, man. I’m not proud of this.” So…
Mark: What’s your nutrition plan?
David: It varies with my mileage. So if I’m running 100 miles a week, that carbohydrate intake with the good fats rises high. Right now my miles started to go back up, but my protein intake is very important. Because I believe in having the good muscle. So I’m really big into protein right now. So my protein’s real high, and it varies as I do things.
I’m a big calorie counter. So let’s say I go out and run 10 miles. I know 10 miles on flat ground I burn about 1180 calories. On flat ground. At a 7:15 pace.
Mark: Do you use any app or Fitbit type stuff?
David: I have a Garmin, but I use different kind of apps, whatever. So I have a Garmin but I’ve now been training like this for years. So I have my own little science.
So all this diet stuff, it comes with knowing yourself. Knowing how your body metabolizes with different stuff. What stuff works good in your gut, your GI system.
And so for me, I take in the calories that I lost. First thing I do. Over 2 meals once I get back. And then I start the protein back up again. So I try to carbs back in me…
Mark: So healthy carbs, though, right? I mean, you’re not eating junk.
David: No. Try to get the carbs back in me. And then I’m back on protein again.
Mark: Have you experimented at all with ketogenesis?
David: I have done a lot of research on it, but how I travel… it’s too tough to stick to that right now. So I have my own little Goggins diet. So yeah, it works good.
One last question. So you inspire a ton of people. Who are you inspired by?
David: It’s funny, man. And people may hear this and say, “Man, you are a cocky ass dude.” Take it the right way.
Your heroes will let you down. One person that you can switch and change is yourself. Holding yourself accountable. You be your own fucking hero. What that means is look at yourself in the fucking mirror and you’re not going to be Tiger Woods. You’re not going to be whoever the fuck else you wanna be.
Whoever your hero is, they’re going to let you down. Trust me. They will. We’re human beings. And you cannot be them. You’re not them.
You gotta find your best self. And in doing that, stop reading books about other people. Stop doing this for other people.
Spend time with yourself. Create your own super-being. Create your own Rocky. Create your own Rambo. Create your own superhero.
And what that means is I’m my own role model. Cause when I’m fucked up, I look in the mirror and say, “You’re fucked up. And we gotta fix this now.”
I can’t call up somebody and say, “Hey man, you really let me down.” So that’s how I believe. I believe in being your own hero, and also writing your own book. Write your own book.
And my big thing is if you’re not changing a life, you’re not doing shit with your life. And if you were on your death bed. And let’s say no one knew who Mark Divine was… No one knew you from Adam.
But you’ve been writing a book, and this journal right here for the last… let’s say you die at 90 years old. And you’re in a hospital and a kid comes in to see Mark Divine. You don’t know the kid, and the kid doesn’t know you. Just came in to see you.
And you gave the kid a fucking book about your life. Would that book change is fucking life for the better? If you can’t say that shit, you need to start writing another motherfucking book.
And people change off of hard work, dedication, sacrifice and suffering. That’s where that change comes from. So that’s…
Mark: Hooyah to that. Be your own hero. I love that. I agree with you 100%.
Become your own story-teller, write your own script, and just… there is no last chapter.
Mark: Until you’re on the death bed.
David: That’s right. And you’re still trying to fucking write. “Fuck that. I got it.”
Mark: (laughing) I got one more!
David: “I got one more chapter man!”
Mark: Awesome David. Thanks so much. You rock.
David: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Mark: Really appreciate your time. We’ll come back and do this again. I know you’re writing a book, and we’ll get that out there. People need to read that… read your story.
David: I appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you for your time.