Here at The Daily Shifts, we’re all about life-changing books. Words have the power to change your outlook on life if you open your mind to them. One of the most life-changing books we’ve read is Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. Not only did he write this amazing book, but he also is an overall badass who has tons of accomplishments. He’s a retired Navy SEAL and a record-setting athlete who’s competed in 60 ultra-marathons, triathlons, and ultra-triathlons. If that’s not enough for you, he also broke the Guinness World Record for most pull-ups in 24 hours. Over the years, David Goggins has learned many important lessons, and he shares them in his book, Can’t Hurt Me.
We’re providing you with a Can’t Hurt Me summary and book review that will provide you with all the actionable challenges that he presents in the book.
In the first part of the book, David Goggins airs his so-called “dirty laundry,” particularly about his struggles growing up with an abusive father, letting readers know that he didn’t have it easy growing up, but this didn’t stop him from overcoming these struggles.
The first challenge in the Can’t Hurt Me summary is to grab a journal and write down everything about the “bad hand” you were dealt in life. “What kind of bullshit did you deal with growing up?” David Goggins asks. Write this all down in detail, and then write down present-day factors that are limiting your growth and success. Make sure you’re really honest with yourself.
Next, David Goggins dives deeper into his past, discussing racial issues and financial issues. He also talks about how he and his mother had to move to get away from his abusive father.
The second challenge is to create an “accountability mirror” which is basically a mirror decked out in Post-Its. David Goggins challenges you to write all of your insecurities, dreams, and goals on Post-Its and stick them on your mirror. This is a way to lay everything out on the table and be self-aware and hold yourself accountable to achieve self-improvement. Every time you reach one of your goals, remove the Post-It from the mirror.
Next up in the Can’t Hurt Me summary is David Goggins’ medical struggles. He tells the story about being diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, which is a blood disease. This resulted in him quitting his military training. This wasn’t a decision he was happy with. He ended up seeing an ad for the Navy SEALS, and he decided he would join, despite the fact that it made him feel uncomfortable.
The third challenge helps you develop a “calloused mind” by stepping out of your comfort zone, just like he did. This will help you get a “you can’t hurt me” mindset. Get your journal again and write down the things you don’t like to do that make you uncomfortable. Then, start to take tiny steps towards doing these things. He recommends “doing something that sucks every day” even if it’s something as small as making your bed, and over time, kick it up a notch. David Goggins says doing this will make you strong.
David Goggins discusses a major lesson he learned in Navy SEAL training: everything in life can be a mind game, and that all pain eventually ends. He says that many people in Navy SEAL training don’t understand that it’s a mind game, and they end up quitting.
The fourth challenge involves “taking souls.” Think about a competitive challenge you’re in right now, such as at school or at work. Identify who your opponent is (a teacher or boss, maybe). Then, work harder than ever before and dominate. “Make them watch you achieve what they could never have done themselves,” David Goggins says.
Next in the Can’t Hurt Me summary, David Goggins discussed the importance of a “calloused mind” to get through tough moments and challenges in life. He talks about how he uses visualization as a tool for success. He doesn’t just visualize the success, he also visualizes the challenges he might face so he can be prepared.
David Goggins says that you, too, should practice this. Visualize your own personal successes you hope to achieve as well as the challenges you may face getting there. This will help you “be as prepared as you possibly can be.” This will also help you develop a “you can’t hurt me” attitude.
David Goggins states that pain is a reward for him, because it’s a reminder that he’s accomplished something. Additionally, he talks about a metaphorical cookie jar. This is where he keeps his memories of victories as well as what it took to accomplish those victories. When he needs motivation, he takes a “cookie” out of the jar.
To create your own cookie jar, get your journal again and write down accomplishments you’ve achieved and obstacles you’ve overcome. Next, you’ll want to set ambitious goals and go for them, reaching for a “cookie” whenever you need it.
David Goggins introduces the concept of a “governor” who’s in our brain that may hold us back from reaching our full potential. He also states that we are only operating at 40% of what we’re really capable of.
So, the following challenge in the Can’t Hurt Me summary is to remove this governor from your mind and “push past your normal stopping point.” Gradually ramp up and do more and more, remembering that life is just a mind game, and you can withstand pain. This will help you achieve things that you might currently believe to be impossible.
David Goggins discusses a concept he’s learned: that everyone is just a human being, even Navy SEALs and celebrities. Everyone is more “normal” than you expect them to be. However, Goggins being Goggins, he wanted to push beyond normal and accomplish amazing things.
To accomplish amazing things yourself, Goggins recommends the tool of scheduling. This challenge takes three weeks. In the first week, write down your current schedule, everything you do, extremely detailed, with timestamps. This gives you your baseline. In week two, create a new “optimal schedule” with everything fitting into 15 or 30-minute time blocks (and it’s okay if a task requires multiple time blocks). Use timestamps again. Then, by week three, you should know exactly what works best and how to optimize your time and maximize your effort.
Next, David Goggins talks about how he desires to go above and beyond, even after he’s completed his goals. He urges that there are always new goals to have and achievements to be made. He says to not give in to complacency, and instead to continuously strive for more. Greatness doesn’t stay with you forever, he says.
The 9th challenge in the Can’t Hurt Me summary is to stay in “constant pursuit” and put out “unending effort” in order to become a true overachiever. This means that you should constantly put obstacles in front of you in order to become the best of the best of the best.
In the last section of the book, David Goggins admits that he failed at first when he attempted to break the Guinness World Record for most pull-ups. But of course, he didn’t let this stop him. It pushed him even harder so that he could try again and beat the record once and for all.
The final challenge in the Can’t Hurt Me summary is to think about your failures. Get your journal and write down the good things that came out of your failures and how you handled them. Then, go through that list and make a new list of things you can fix and schedule attempts to meet these goals. Write them on Post-Its and put them on your accountability mirror. Use what you learned in the previous challenges to help you meet those goals. Go out there with that “you can’t hurt me” mentality and crush it.
To sum it all up, we absolutely love this book. Reading Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins really evokes motivation to go out there and change your life. It’s honest, it’s raw, and it’s inspiring.
If you want to learn more about David Goggins’ tips for health specifically, we suggest researching:
If you’re looking to read more about self-improvement and development, we recommend you check out these books that are similar:
Lastly, if you want to take even more steps to better your life after reading this Can’t Hurt Me summary and book review, try taking our 21-day challenge to get your life on track, and check out our course to learn how to find your true passion in life. Now, go out there and live life like it should be lived.
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