High-Level Thoughts

A very entertaining read, though it starts to feel a bit formulaic as it goes on. Either way, highly recommend for a motivating easy read.

Summary Notes

But the truth is we all make habitual, self-limiting choices. It’s as natural as a sunset and as fundamental as gravity. It’s how our brains are wired, which is why motivation is crap.

you’re probably living at about 40 percent of your true capability.

Human beings change through study, habit, and stories. Through my story you will learn what the body and mind are capable of when they’re driven to maximum capacity, and how to get there. Because when you’re driven, whatever is in front of you, whether it’s racism, sexism, injuries, divorce, depression, obesity, tragedy, or poverty, becomes fuel for your metamorphosis.

At first my goals involved shaping up my appearance and accomplishing all my chores without having to be asked.

There is no more time to waste. Hours and days evaporate like creeks in the desert. That’s why it’s okay to be cruel to yourself as long as you realize you’re doing it to become better.

From then on, I brainwashed myself into craving discomfort. If it was raining, I would go run. Whenever it started snowing, my mind would say, Get your fucking running shoes on. Sometimes I wussed out and had to deal with it at the Accountability Mirror. But facing that mirror, facing myself, motivated me to fight through uncomfortable experiences, and, as a result, I became tougher. And being tough and resilient helped me meet my goals.

That’s when I first realized that not all physical and mental limitations are real, and that I had a habit of giving up way too soon.

The typical day went something like this. I’d wake up at 4:30 a.m., munch a banana, and hit the ASVAB books. Around 5 a.m., I’d take that book to my stationary bike where I’d sweat and study for two hours.

Bulk was the enemy. I needed reps, and I did five or six sets of 100–200 reps each.

I weighed myself twice daily, and within two weeks I’d dropped twenty-five pounds. My progress only improved as I kept grinding, and the weight started peeling off. Ten days later I was at 250, light enough to begin doing push-ups, pull-ups, and to start running my ass off.

I had to choose between physical suffering in the moment, and the mental anguish of wondering if that one missed pull-up, that last lap in the pool, the quarter mile I skipped on the road or trail, would end up costing me an opportunity of a lifetime.

On the eve of the ASVAB, with four weeks to go before training, making weight was no longer a worry. I was already down to 215 pounds and was faster and stronger than I’d ever been. I was running six miles a day, bicycling over twenty miles, and swimming more than two.

Dig out your journal again and write down all the things you don’t like to do or that make you uncomfortable. Especially those things you know are good for you. Now go do one of them, and do it again.

Everything in life is a mind game! Whenever we get swept under by life’s dramas, large and small, we are forgetting that no matter how bad the pain gets, no matter how harrowing the torture, all bad things end. That forgetting happens the second we give control over our emotions and actions to other people, which can easily happen when pain is peaking.

All I know is that by going hard when we felt defeated we were able to ride a second wind through the worst night in Hell Week.

I tensed every muscle in my body, and my shiver slowed to a stop in real time.

Whatever it is, I want you to work harder on that project or in that class than you ever have before. Do everything exactly as they ask, and whatever standard they set as an ideal outcome, you should be aiming to surpass that.

Whoever you’re dealing with, your goal is to make them watch you achieve what they could never have done themselves. You want them thinking how amazing you are. Take their negativity and use it to dominate their task with everything you’ve got. Take their motherfucking soul!

Those mornings when going on a run is the last thing you want to do, but then twenty minutes into it you feel energized, that’s the work of the sympathetic nervous system. What I’ve found is that you can tap into it on-call as long as you know how to manage your own mind.

Do you hammer hard and snag that personal best like you said you would, or do you crumble? That decision rarely comes down to physical ability, it’s almost always a test of how well you are managing your own mind.

The reason it’s important to push hardest when you want to quit the most is because it helps you callous your mind. It’s the same reason why you have to do your best work when you are the least motivated. That’s why I loved PT in BUD/S and why I still love it today. Physical challenges strengthen my mind so I’m ready for whatever life throws at me, and it will do the same for you.

Choose any obstacle in your way, or set a new goal, and visualize overcoming or achieving it. Before I engage in any challenging activity, I start by painting a picture of what my success looks and feels like. I’ll think about it every day and that feeling propels me forward when I’m training, competing, or taking on any task I choose.

Why are you doing this? What is driving you toward this achievement? Where does the darkness you’re using as fuel come from? What has calloused your mind?

Take inventory of your Cookie Jar. Crack your journal open again. Write it all out. Remember, this is not some breezy stroll through your personal trophy room. Don’t just write down your achievement hit list. Include life obstacles you’ve overcome as well, like quitting smoking or overcoming depression or a stutter. Add in those minor tasks you failed earlier in life, but tried again a second or third time and ultimately succeeded at. Feel what it was like to overcome those struggles, those opponents, and win.

Set ambitious goals before each workout and let those past victories carry you to new personal bests. If it’s a run or bike ride, include some time to do interval work and challenge yourself to beat your best mile split. Or simply maintain a maximum heart rate for a full minute, then two minutes. If you’re at home, focus on pull-ups or push-ups. Do as many as possible in two minutes. Then try to beat your best.

I couldn’t answer that question, but as I looked around the finish line that day and considered what I’d accomplished, it became clear that we are all leaving a lot of money on the table without realizing it. We habitually settle for less than our best; at work, in school, in our relationships, and on the playing field or race course.

That’s what getting up at the ass crack of dawn and putting out will do for you. It makes you better in all facets of your life.

“You didn’t bring salt pills?” she asked, shocked. I shrugged. I didn’t know what the fuck a salt pill was. She poured a hundred of them into my palm. “Take two of these, every hour. They’ll keep you from cramping.”

Sadly, most of us give up when we’ve only given around 40 percent of our maximum effort. Even when we feel like we’ve reached our absolute limit, we still have 60 percent more to give! That’s the governor in action! Once you know that to be true, it’s simply a matter of stretching your pain tolerance, letting go of your identity and all your self-limiting stories, so you can get to 60 percent, then 80 percent and beyond without giving up. I call this The 40% Rule, and the reason it’s so powerful is that if you follow it, you will unlock your mind to new levels of performance and excellence in sports and in life, and your rewards will run far deeper than mere material success.

I understand the temptation to sell short, but I also know that impulse is driven by your mind’s desire for comfort, and it’s not telling you the truth. It’s your identity trying to find sanctuary, not help you grow.

if you are on the hunt for your 100 percent you should catalog your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Don’t ignore them. Be prepared for them, because in any endurance event, in any high-stress environment, your weaknesses will surface like bad karma, build in volume, and overwhelm you. Unless you get ahead of them first.

There is no finish line, Goggins. There is no finish line.

Whether you are running on a treadmill or doing a set of push-ups, get to the point where you are so tired and in pain that your mind is begging you to stop. Then push just 5 to 10 percent further.

This gradual ramp-up will help prevent injury and allow your body and mind to slowly adapt to your new workload.

It also resets your baseline, which is important because you’re about to increase your workload another 5 to 10 percent the following week, and the week after that.

If you want to master the mind and remove your governor, you’ll have to become addicted to hard work. Because passion and obsession, even talent, are only useful tools if you have the work ethic to back them up.

To me, a forty-hour work week is a 40 percent effort. It may be satisfactory, but that’s another word for mediocrity. Don’t settle for a forty-hour work week. There are 168 hours in a week!

Look, we all have work obligations, none of us want to lose sleep, and you’ll need time with the family or they’ll trip the fuck out. I get it, and if that’s your situation, you must win the morning.

On Saturdays I’d sleep in until 7 a.m., hit a three-hour workout, and spend the rest of the weekend with Kate.

If I didn’t have a race, Sundays were my active recovery days. I’d do an easy ride at a low heart rate, keeping my pulse below 110 beats per minute to stimulate healthy blood flow.

Each hour of his week is dedicated to a particular task and when that hour shows up in real time, he focuses 100 percent on that task. That’s how I do it too, because that is the only way to minimize wasted hours.

I guarantee that if you audited your schedule you’d find time for more work and less bullshit.

If you audit your life, skip the bullshit, and use backstops, you’ll find time to do everything you need and want to do. But remember that you also need rest, so schedule that in. Listen to your body, sneak in those ten- to twenty-minute power naps when necessary, and take one full rest day per week.

During week one, go about your normal schedule, but take notes. When do you work? Are you working nonstop or checking your phone (the Moment app will tell you)?

How long are your meal breaks? When do you exercise, watch TV, or chat to friends? How long is your commute? Are you driving? I want you to get super detailed and document it all with timestamps.

In week two, build an optimal schedule. Lock everything into place in fifteen- to thirty-minute blocks.

When you work, only work on one thing at a time, think about the task in front of you and pursue it relentlessly. When it comes time for the next task on your schedule, place that first one aside, and apply the same focus.

Make sure your meal breaks are adequate but not open-ended, and schedule in exercise and rest too. But when it’s time to rest, actually rest. No checking email or bullshitting on social media. If you are going to work hard you must also rest your brain.

Starting at zero is a mindset that says my refrigerator is never full, and it never will be. We can always become stronger and more agile, mentally and physically. We can always become more capable and more reliable. Since that’s the case we should never feel that our work is done. There is always more to do.

A lot of people think that once they reach a certain level of status, respect, or success, that they’ve made it in life. I’m here to tell you that you always have to find more. Greatness is not something that if you meet it once it stays with you forever. That shit evaporates like a flash of oil in a hot pan.

Torch the complacency you feel gathering around you, your coworkers, and teammates in that rare air. Continue to put obstacles in front of yourself, because that’s where you’ll find the friction that will help you grow even stronger. Before you know it, you will stand alone.

In the military, after every real-world mission or field exercise, we fill out After Action Reports (AARs), which serve as live autopsies. We do them no matter the outcome, and if you’re analyzing a failure like I was, the AAR is absolutely crucial.

First off, write out all the good things, everything that went well, from your failures. Be detailed and generous with yourself. A lot of good things will have happened. It’s rarely all bad. Then note how you handled your failure. Did it affect your life and your relationships? How so?

“What was happening to you is an extreme case of what happens to 90 percent of the population,” he said. “Your muscles were so locked up that your blood wasn’t circulating very well. They were like a frozen steak. You can’t inject blood into a frozen steak, and that’s why you were shutting down.

most of us are programmed to seek comfort as a way to numb it all out and cushion the blows. We carve out safe spaces. We consume media that confirms our beliefs, we take up hobbies aligned with our talents, we try to spend as little time as possible doing the tasks we fucking loathe, and that makes us soft.

Thanks to all that stretching, I’m in better shape at forty-three than I was in my twenties. Back then I was always sick, wound tight, and stressed out. I never analyzed why I kept getting stress fractures. I just taped that shit up. No matter what ailed my body or my mind I had the same solution. Tape it up and move the fuck on. Now I’m smarter than I’ve ever been. And I’m still getting after it.

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