Ultra-athlete, Retired Navy SEAL, and best-selling author David Goggins talks to Jack about discipline, endurance, and focus. These aspects are crucial for business owners. Goggins talks about overcoming a childhood of abuse and a learning disability by breaking down obstacles into — as he puts it — “the smallest molecule possible, and building them back up one small accomplishment at a time."
Hi this Jack tester and welcome to another episode leadership lounge. I am in San Antonio, Texas. We just finished our super meeting here and I'm sitting in a room with absolutely no windows sitting across the table from David Goggins. How are you doing David? Hey man. Doing great. Thanks for having me man. We did a great job. You closed it out our meeting today with your message on discipline and uh , you are perfect fitting into our , our meeting here. Well, thank you. Thank you. I mean your life is all about discipline right now, right? I mean your message is all about endurance and focus and pushing through and that absolutely was, was the central theme of , of this entire meeting. Exactly. Is this by being super hyperfocus , not just focused but so focused on this one singular task and that big into like a , you know , multitasking. Right. I don't think that you get much done. I think you get a lot done, but it's done half-assed. Right. You know, I think if you can focus all your mind power and to getting one single task done, what happens with that task is it gets all of you . It gets all your mind power, it gets all your attention, it gets all your energy. And that's what I'm about doing. Well, you know, and it's a great message because we help people understand the focus in business and a [inaudible] , excuse me, you, you have done some extreme endurance things that did require your focus and I want to set you up a little bit and then have you talk about some of that because first you're a best selling author. Can't hurt me. Yes. Regulations appreciate we . So 1.3 million books in seven months. Well done man. Right . Appreciate that. That's great. That's your first book. First book. Yeah. And you said in , you said in your session that when you writing that that's all you did. So I did. So I'm a motivational speaker where I call myself an inspirational speaker and I'm basically, I cut out speaking gigs. I cut my training down to like probably a fraction of what I usually do, so I can have all day, all night, 24, seven. Even when I was out working out, my whole mind was only focused on trying to enhance the book. No . Trying to have my mind go back into the dungeon from which I came. Yeah. Trying to bring these stories back alive. The stories I didn't want to think about anymore. Right. Cause I already been there, done that. The stories that damaged me to, to make a book real, you have to go back there. So if I had to be singularly focused on every single story I put in the book, yeah. So I bought the most of that story to the people. That's , and you did too. All right . I appreciate that. Yeah. Well, your story hasn't always been one of writing a book. You didn't grow up to be an author. Now imagine that fair . No, I didn't grow up to be know . You told a, a really , uh , uh , a challenging story. Just give us some, I know a lot of people listening to this know who David Goggins is and I know a lot of them don't, right? So they're going to say, Oh , who's this David Goggins guy? Tell us about, just a little bit about your upbringing so people can understand who you are. So I'm just a very abusive upbringing. My dad was an alcoholic, my dad was a womanizer. My dad, I believe going back through, you know , all the chapters of his life, it was probably a very insecure man that never fixed himself. So when you don't fix yourself, what happens is other people pay for your, for your misguided life. And my mom, my brother and myself, we paid for his misguided life. So when you are a young child, that is a basic foundation of how you're going to come up. Yeah. It sets all the right proper tools. Other proper woodwork in the house has to be done right. So my work was very messed up because I know right from wrong when you're getting beat, just because your old man is upset because he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or you said something that didn't sound exactly right and you're getting beat for these things, your mind grows up very scarred, very damaged. So from there, from getting beat on a constant, you know, almost everyday basis for eight years, we moved to a small town. I had a learning disability. I stuttered, I had social anxiety, just a ton of issues that had grown up in that kind of abusive household. Then now I moved to a small place called Brazilian Yana where there was a handful of blacks and they're very , um, there were a lot of great people in Brazil. So you can't just say they were all racist. But when your mind sees racism, you think everybody's racist. Yeah. So there's 10,000 people, five roughly five black families. And um , the Klan marched in their 4th of July parade in 1995. My mom saw it. So my mom was there and exited the scarring, the a sheriff of the other town, his name is Chuck Jones. Check Joe's is a great friend of our family's . Chuck Jones , us , my mom , and says, please go home. Yeah . So my mom was like, I'm not going need somebody , you know, it was just this constant battle in the past . I got called n****r more times I can count. Um , so when you a damaged kid and then you're being called n****r and you haven't learned disability, all you want to do in class is hide out. Right. My mom worked three jobs, may, you know, we live in this $7 a month place for several years, and then we upgraded to a $230 place. I know, right? Yeah. The big time. So my mom was always gone, so it gave me the ability to escape. So I never at school, I wasn't smart. I was one of the only black kids in school . So you know what, I'm just not gonna go . Yeah . So that caused even more problems. So growing up like that just cause a severe damage to my mind. Well, how did you know in summarize, cause I know you have a very complex story and I know that a lot of it's outlined in can hurt me and we're not going to cover your whole brain injury now. We ain't going to do that 13 hours in the audio book now here for awhile . I'm not going to do that. But no , what I want to know is for that upbringing, which is,Speaker 2:
you know, been the downfall of many people and , and , and on many levels, understandably so. And you know, I've had privilege, I've had much, I didn't have that upbringing so I can't understand it. Right. So what was it, David, if you had to summarize one of the one or two things that you did that instead of using that as, as a reason to stay down, to stay in the neighborhood, whatever, whatever path you are on, why to change?Speaker 1:
You know what, the one, one thing I didn't even really touch upon during the speech was , uh , I have a test upon my mind. I'm able to create all these different things to help me out, but I created a world of what if I can overcome all this. So I was able to visualize myself at the , at a finish line of whether it Navy seal training or ranger school or whatever I did in my life. I was able to be this fat 297 pound insecure. Um, I called myself very stupid at a time. I was very real to myself, but I was able to visualize what if I can take all of this stuff, everything I came from abusive childhood, not going to read and write when I was a junior in high school, having a fourth grade reading level. What if I can turn this second? Nothing in this great, amazing person? How would I feel? And just talking about that, even now that I've accomplished all of it, I always wanted to feel enough being somebody and that was all I needed. All I needed was just a glimmer of hope that maybe I can maybe just me alone can turn this around. How did it come to you? Did it come to be slowly? Did it come to you in a moment of clarity? They came to me be by being haunted . So I always ran away from hard times. Okay. Whenever times got hard for me, I would always make up an excuse on why I couldn't finish the task at hand. Yeah. So it when you're any kind of person that has any kind of clear thinking, you're , you have two voices. One voice is very like either, you know, I don't want to do this and the other voices , you know what man , we're better than this, but being better than this means you have to do whole bunch of work. Yeah. And that works scared me. That works . Scares a lot of people. But over here when I was in dreamland thinking about, man, well what if I can put this work in and make an accomplish this amazing task? It just always made me defeated. I always would bring me back to scratch. So sitting around enough, it just, the , the, the haunting feeling came over me and I say , no , I , I can't be haunted anymore. I just don't want to have this voice in my brain saying, this is gonna be the rest of your life. You could be a fat guy that sprays. There's nothing wrong with spraying for cockroaches. That's what you did for love . I did for living for awhile , for about , you know , about six months. I got in the military the first time and, but I made $1,000 a month and I wasn't trying to move up. I was just living . I lived in filth. And it is haunts you when you're a person that can see how you're living and you know that you can change your life, but you have to put in so much work and so much work to do that. It just , just a haunting feeling. He came over me and the haunting feeling beat me. They beat me into submission to the point where I said, I can no longer do this. And if I die trying, I just die trying. That's okay. That's okay. Because I'm dying now. Right? I'm dead. I'm , I'm , I'm, I'm breathing. I'm alive and I'm dead. That's, that's interesting. So, so you used a couple of , of techniques that you shared. One was this thing called accountability mirror. Did that come into your life at this point? No. The accountability mirror came way before this time. But you know, they sit in the movie, like in a movie, you have this one, this one moment where you just change your life and then they get to run it that way. You know, they can't write a movie where it comes up and down, up and down. Right. It's never right. I got it. You know, my life was real life. So I invented all these things along this journey. And one was the accountability mirror. I was in high school and like I said, a fourth grade reading live on my junior year in high school. My mom worked three jobs, so she was never home. So I was able to skip school a lot and had these girls at school, fours. These letters from my mom was funny about school. She doesn't have like 60 girls, right ? And letters and all of those look different. But screw it . Ever figured it out. Right ? They seem to care. No, that's fine. Whatever. It's all my fault anyway, but I'm like, man, I'm getting away with murder here. So I got away with murder and it caught up with me and they sent a letter home from school saying basically that your son's gonna not graduate. Amal saw the letter and said, Hey, this is your life. Do what you want. She was so stressed out with her own personal life. The best advice you can give me was you can be a loser. She can say it in those terms, but basically as I took it, yeah, I went to the mirror, I looked at myself in the mirror and I caught the dirty mirror. The mirror wasn't actually dirty, but I caught the dirty mirror cause I was about to reveal the truth about myself. So I'm in the dirty mirror. I'm looking at myself. After I got the letter and I could barely read the letters, put in the bed, and I go to the mirror and had this special haircut, I call it the old man haircut where I was trying to create this character. If I been one of the only black people in school, if I created a character maybe like is being made fun of in a way that we can all joke about David guidance , right ? Let me feel better than being this guy that just felt stupid and not wanted. I understand. So I was a clown, so I looked in the mirror and I see myself and this old man haircut where I shaved the top of my head and I kept here on the side like, like bozo pretty much and look in the mirror and I almost started crying cause I'm like my God dude. Like what are you like, what do you stand for? And I sat in the mirror, start calling myself out, just my cousin just talking to myself. I'm like, you know, you can't read, you can't write. You blame everybody yet your dad beats you but you , your dad's not here now that's mature thoughts. I don't know if there's mature thoughts, just angry. Well, I don't know. Sometimes some people still suppressed that stuff, right ? That's mature to thoughts. But I'm starting to run. No , no, no, you're fine. So I just start going off on myself and I was like, and I got done. I was like, I need that. Like, you know , I , I needed to own, even though a lot of people caused these issues for me, I need to own them. Yeah . They , they , they, they need to become mine so I can fix them if I thought everybody else did it to me, which a lot of people did, I would give it to them to fix and they aren't coming back to fix it. Only me. So I owned it all. I took it all, took accountability for everything is you write little posted notes and put it on the mirror . And then I went to the post it notes . So after I went here, I got a , uh , my mom was a , uh , it's funny she didn't see a report card of mine, but she was, she went back to coz at 36 and became a teacher. Very nice. And the very same grade I got held back in, she taught, so it was this kind of crazy. So there was posted notes and they're kind of sticky notes that you can like, you know, very small notes, you know, maybe three inches or whatever. And I got these little posted notes. I just start writing stuff on them , you know, only I can understand what it was. I couldn't really spell that will. And I just started sticking them up on the very same mirrors with some of the things that you didn't like about yourself . All these things were things I didn't like about myself. So things I called myself out in the mirror. I pretty much wrote down, you know, about being lazy, you know, you know all these things, everything Raul in real, it was just truthful. And I wrote them on, on the, on the, on the sticky note and I put 'em on the mirror. My mom went to the bathroom and said, what the hell is wrong with you? I said, Hey , just, just keep them up there. I made enough room to where she could still use the mirror, but they were just posting all on the border of it. And , um, I was walking the mirror every day , whoever's going to bathroom, wash the hands, whatever . And I look at the mirror and those started haunting me like, what are you gonna do about this? So he drove you to action. You told me the action, right ? We could do about this. So I said, well God man. All right , let's just shave our head. Let's , let's look at the human being. Yeah , let's pull our pants up. I sat them down in my ankles back in the, you know , early nineties. And I was like, okay, let's change how your car looks. You know, let's change how you look. And it started with that cause I need to re , I need to respect myself. Okay, I need you to stop being afraid of what people thought of the real David Goggins. I started really going to school like say, okay, whatever you do, this is what you're going to get. Guys. This is David Goggins. Let's go. Did you start to develop a sense of momentum in your life? At that point it wasn't so much momentum then. It was a sense of ice had to get the hell up and face myself. Okay. And that was scary. Yeah . Cause I was already almost out of high school and when your mind is very clear thinking like mine is, I knew it wasn't stupid. Right. And I have my common sense, my street knowledge is very high because how I grew up and I look at myself thinking, my God, I'm so far behind the power curve that how the hell am I going to catch up? How am I going to catch up? I am 1617 years old. I'm about to graduate. I'm a junior in high school. I have one more year left and I am at a fourth grade reading level. So all these things, your lists , like anchors. Got it. So I had it Dasher , I'll learn to singularly focus. Got it. I can't think about all the crap I have to fix. [inaudible] main thing is yourself. Check. Next thing is mad . You can't live in society without being able to read and write. And I realize how bad it was until I went to take the asthma test for the military and I scored horribly low like two or three times and I had like one more chance to take it and I got a tutor that cost $15 an hour. We can only afford four hours a month. And I realized how I learned even to this day is that the hit spiral notebooks and go over and over it, over the same material repeatedly and then it becomes almost like I learned it through almost visualizing what I wrote down. I can see the problem because I wrote it so many times, I may not know it if you asked me how to do it, but I'm like, Oh I remember this problem from running so many times. So I know all the steps from going. My mind said , okay step one, step two, step three, step four, step five and there's a fun answer. I was able to do it with everything. Reading comprehension, history, you know, I became a big history book cause why I put the mind to use as far as memorization, memorization, memorization over and over again. So if I learned something one time, I can't just learn it and I'm done. Yeah. At T go back out the next week and relearn something that I was like an expert at just last week. It may be gone in in five days if I don't utilize it. And so I started getting, that's where the momentum came. Got it. People think it's from the running in the Navy seals. It came from being a young kid, really trained himself how to read and write and saying , okay, this is good. And that's what I said . I'm like , God, I can do this. Yeah, I'm not dumb. I just didn't apply myself. And my background being beat as a kid made my mind fragile and weak . And whenever things got hard in the face and these things I ingrained in myself, just don't do them. Yeah. That's cool. So that's cool. Well, what's interesting though is , is you , you are , I'll just say this and I'll say it respectfully. I mean, you as a young person, you were not evenSpeaker 2:
right. You're just kinda getting momentum, right? And you , and you've got some things going, but now you're known as, as this extraordinary performer, right? You went through your Navy seal, ranger, ultra marathoner, you hold the world record on pull-ups in 17 hours. How many was that? Thousand 30. That's how many pull ups you did. 17 hours. Yep . So you hold it. So you , so you went from [inaudible] and you said in our session you said you had this thing that was , you gotta declare war on mediocrity. So how did it go? When did you start with that goal in mind? When did you cross over? How did that work?Speaker 1:
So basically I went through and I got in the military. Finally when I was a young kid, about 19, I finally got the military wanting to be air force pet rescue man with us . I was afraid of the water. Um, that gave me a huge hiccup because I started with, as you say, momentum. That's why I don't believe it was really momentum. It was just like it wasn't a minimum at all. I was, I was fixing myself from the surface. Okay. I wasn't going deep into the dungeon cause I was still quitting when things really got hard. I got it. You weren't quitting as early, but you're still quitting. I was still quitting. Got it. And when something got harder , I got in the water. I wasn't good in the water. I found a way again, whenever things got hard , I found a way to rationalize and say, you know what, man, there's not a lot of black people doing this, right? I'm the only black person in the class. Am I good swimmer, blacks or negative point ? Most of them. I started making up all these things so I quit and I left pair way in 175 pounds. Three years later I was almost 300 pounds. I was two 97 that's when you were spraying. Now I was spraying for cockroaches and this is where it changed. All right? So this is where the real momentum came. Okay. So I had to actually go back in my childhood again and realize why am I still weak minded? And I'm like, I fixed reading and writing. I fix this, I fixed that. Why is there something still, these demons are still chasing me. I had to go back like a lot of people who have a sore knee, it's not always your knee that sore. It might be your hip, might be your ankle. Right? So I went to the source of the problem. I didn't see my father in years. Went back home, went back to Buffalo, hadn't seen this . I was like 12 years old now, 24 and looked at the demon . Your dad? My dad. Okay . Face the demon. And instead of facing them being angry, I had to face him and he knew what I was doing. I was reading this guy like , what made you, we didn't have this conversation once again, this was in my own head. What made you this demon? What made crazy? What made you smack? My mom beat my mom. Dragging on the stairs by her hair. Knock her out. What ? What made you beat me? And my brothers where you beat us. What made you a pimp and a womanizer and w what made you this man? And this is what I'm thinking to myself. I have to figure out why you did these things to me to move on, to move forward. That has to be a reason. Okay . So I sat back and looked at him and I saw my own reasons why I was messed up. My reasons for being messed up was I was insecure. Your dad was insecure. I was. So I had this, I had to give a title to my dad. Okay. He couldn't just be this mean, could this be this mean? So I don't know what happened to his life. I know he had a difficult childhood. So I realized that I had to um, move past that. So I gave them a title and a title I gave him was he has to come from tons of insecurities. And when I was able to give a title to this man, I was able to so much forgive him. He never said sorry, I never said sorry. It was none of that. It was all in my own head when we went on. Yeah . So that that went on. I got in the car, drove back eight hours back to Indiana, but now there was a name, a face, a title. All these things were answered from my father, whether they're true or not. I had a finish line with the devil. Got it. And I was able to move on. Got it. And I was able to put, okay , this guy has to have something jacked up with him. Yeah, good to go. I can move on past that. That's cool. From there, 300 300 pound person, I'm going to be a Navy seal. I was able to bury all the demons. The demon is still there. They're always going to be there. And I was able to bury him enough to move on. Got it. And so lost 106 pounds in less than three months cause I had to do it. The program did. That started gaining real momentum and the more momentum my game, the more confidence I gained, the more I realized that I wasn't this dumb n****r abused. All these things. Stutter, insecure, lack self . I wasn't any of that. I taught myself that. Yeah. So I started owning things. I started taking things into the smallest molecule possible. I look at being a Navy seal. That was my goal. I think about every day I thought about just lose a pound. I started breaking all these big tasks up into very small, manageable tasks that I could do and I started being proud of every single small accomplishment I did. If I had a good day of eating, I was of myself . Got it. Does it? Well , I'm like, Oh my God, I need to lose 30 pounds this week. No, I'm proud that a grilled chicken breast and that's what I ate today. Accomplishment. And through these accomplishments I built self-esteem to self esteem, courage, do courage. I built Goggins. So instead of being David Goggins, I built GogginsSpeaker 2:
and that really is the lesson there in businesses. And that is these , these incremental improvements. You want a hundred million dollar business, but what did you do today and feel in a, did you get, did you go, as you had said in your class, like 1% better, right? 1% better each day. That's it. Is that right? And I just want to do the, I know you've got to go and I want to ask you kind of, there's something that you said in there that was really good. It said that you want to be uncommon among the uncommon. Tell me about that and we'll have that as kind of the final .Speaker 1:
That's something that I developed again, once again, I ended up master of one thing motivating myself. When your mom is working hard and your dad's out there and you have no mentors, you better have a very creative mind. So whenever I get in situations where I start to lack that motivation because I've achieved so much, I developed, I became a seal , I looked around to all these guys and we are all uncommon amongst people who aren't Navy seals. They look at us and my God, you're a Navy seal. Yeah. Oh my God, you're great ass , great, whatever. It's not the truth. We're just human beings. But if there a whole room of full Navy seals, rather the people, again, raw common again, right ? We're all the same. A Navy says like a kiss. No Navy seals ass. We're the same person. So now I'm realizing, okay, here I am. Now I'm now calming again. When I leave these walls, I might be uncommon amongst people who aren't Navy seals, but I don't want to leave these walls. I want to stand out amongst these very uncommon men. So how do you do that? This is where the rubber meets the road. I found out this is where you become this standout, the stand alone where you start to maybe rub people the wrong way. Cause a lot of people who achieve greatness in life, they have a finish line. That finish line might be that Navy seal , try it . It might be that ranger tab, it might be you reached $1 billion. But if you see that person who puts that ranger tab or that Navy, so try to , and they put it in a closet and they put in a storage shed because they've done that already, that's not going to go ahead and define me for the rest of my life. That starts to put those people who are uncommon with you. Hmm, what are you doing here? Are you putting me down? You're not putting them down. You just now realize there's more to do. I got it. And that's when he started to stand at nights. Have to reinvent the wheel. Yeah. Okay. What can I do now? So he showed then you open your mouth. I believe in open mindedness. Okay, now what can I do to be better? There's a 200 mile race out here. No seals. Do that. Cause why? Once you graduate Navy seal training, most people say, Oh, I'm a Navy seal. Oh no, no, no. I'm a go child for Delta force. As a Navy seal, you want to go to ranger school because while you're Navy seal, I'm going to volunteer for a school. I've all different range of school. Oh, let me go try out for seal team six. Oh, let me go now and start doing pull up record. Let me start doing this. Let me start doing that. Let me get out of the military and go try to be a whatever. So it's just a bestselling author, a bill , I'll say often you just continue to not have a finish line, you never satisfied. And that's basically being uncommon is you now rewrite a book that most of the thought was finished. Love it, and it just pisses people off. That's good.Speaker 2:
Well, you know that's a great way to end this and that is a great, a great message to be on common among the uncommon salads . Reinvent yourself. So thank you for this message, David. Thanks for being here. Thank you for spending time here. I sure appreciate it. Appreciate you and thank everybody for listening to this very special episode, leadership lounges , Jack tester with David Goggins. We'll catch you next time. Thanks so much. Appreciate it. Thank you .