I bought Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins from Audible because I’d heard multiple people, mainly at my gym, say that it was a great book. They said it was very motivational and was about a man who became a Navy Seal. One woman said she didn’t care for the “bad” language in the book. I needed to use a credit on Audible and decided to buy this book.
That’s basically what I knew about the book and had no idea who David Goggins is. Therefore, I was startled when he mentioned running ultramarathons. I turned to Google and discovered that David Goggins has an extensive military career but also an extensive endurance race career. Also, apparently he has been on numerous podcasts but I’ve missed hearing him.
Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds
The audio version contains content not available in the book. The book is read by the co-author, Adam Skolnick with breaks in the narrative where Goggins and Skolnick discuss what was read. They tell additional stories to supplement what is in the book. This at times is interesting though I began to find it a bit irritating and would become impatient to return to the actual book. Their conversation was repetitive. Adam Skolnick would take a break and say something like, “wow, that is amazing” and then David Goggins would repeat about how hard he had to work. He did tell some additional stories that were interesting but it could have been edited a bit.
Each chapter ends with a challenge for the listener. The point is that we can repeat much of what Goggins does to overcome our own fears and lack of discipline. Perhaps people do these challenges. I didn’t feel the need to bother with this. I suspect that says more about me than it does about the book.
Definitely, David Goggins knows how to accomplish great goals. He is driven to perform and defies the odds to accomplish those goals. His motivation and drive is amazing.
I’m sure that many people find his story to be motivational. He overcame a difficult childhood that includes physical violence and poverty to succeed in life. There’s no doubt that he accomplished a tremendous amount in his search to be physically the best.
What Concerned Me
I found myself wondering about him however. Can’t Hurt Me: is about how to accomplish big goals and I think he does a great job of telling us how to do that but I’m not sure how successful he is as a person. He does say that we are not meant to be happy, that we need to focus on accomplishing what we want to accomplish.
Several times he decided to do something with a lack of preparation and then had to deal with injury and feelings of failure. I’m not sure that deciding to run a marathon when injured is a good decision. He also ran his first 100 mile race with no training and ends up with significant injury. Goggins thinks that shows what a “stud” he is. I suspect that I’m old enough that I think that’s just foolish. There’s no reason not to prepare for things. He’s very impetuous.
Throughout the book, there’s the occasional mention of his ex-wives and a fiancée. Can’t Hurt Me: is certainly not about his personal life but he’s apparently been divorced at least three times. So, it’s not for me to criticize that but I felt that much of what he did was a way to avoid facing his feelings. He also talked about how he didn’t want to socialize with his platoon and other military people. While he succeeded in much of his goals, he seems to be emotionally stilted. I felt like much of what was driving him was the refusal to actually face the emotional trauma he suffered.
I found myself wondering about his brother. David Goggin’s brother was with him as a child but left their mother and David at some point to go live with their father. At that point, he drops out of the story until the last chapter. It’s mentioned that his brother ended up earning a PhD. Earning a PhD is definitely due to tenacity and commitment. I thought it was interesting that both of them ended up being successful, it would appear, despite the different paths they took in ways that required dedication and perseverance.
Oh yes, and the language. It is extreme. David Goggins says in the audio book that people who don’t like it should get over it because that’s how he talks. And that’s fine though most of us manage to speak one way and write another. So, it didn’t really bother me, but it felt gratuitous. It seemed to be more to be shocking than anything. The language could have been scaled back without affecting the intent of the book.
My Take Aways
I enjoyed the book but did not love it. The lessons that meant the most to me were how to come back after failing to reach a goal and the importance of stretching.
It’s easy when we fail in a project to give up. Goggins talks about how it took him three tries to earn the pull-up world record and what he learned from each failed attempt. That was motivational to me.
He also describes how his body rebelled from being so muscular without having any flexibility and that stretching became an important part of his routine. I think most of us fail to practice enough stretching and this was a great reminder.
I recommend this book unless you know you’re bothered by curse words. It may well motivate you to do more to meet your goals.
Don’t forget to check out some of my other book reviews.