David Goggins is known as the ‘hardest man alive’.
He is the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to have completed Navy SEAL Training, the U.S. Army Ranger and Air Force tactical air controller training and he served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He’s completed over 50 ultra-marathon and endurance races, including the infamous Badwater Marathon running 135 miles through California’s Death Valley during the peak of summer when temperatures reach 54 degrees Celsius. Most people don’t finish, and yet David has completed it three times. He’s also a Guinness World Record Holder for the number of pull-ups in 24 hours, completing a staggering 4,025 within 17 hours.
What’s even more remarkable about David Goggins, however, is his remarkable transformation.
From a kid who suffered intense psychological and physical abuse from his father and members of the local Ku Klux Klan. From a teenager who barely graduated from high school. From a young adult who was obese weighing in at over 130 kilograms. From suffering his entire life from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect that meant his heart could only function at 75% capacity.
“We don’t go inside. Turn yourself inside out. We’re writing a book every day of our lives, but we never read that book. You need to look inside yourself and see what you really want.”
For you to find greatness in yourself, you’re not going to find it in a book. You’ve got to go inside yourself to find it. You’ve got to be quiet. Shut the fuck up, go in a room, stop talking. Search your soul, search your mind, search your abilities and you’ll find it. But if you don’t go looking for it, you won’t find it. You’ve got to start your journey and it starts with finding out Why. Why am I here on this earth?”
In fact, Goggins developed something he called the ‘accountability mirror’, a simple daily habit he started when he was in high school that would change his life:
Each day I would shave my head and I’d look into the bathroom mirror. I would start holding myself accountable. How did I attack today? How did I attack yesterday? If I didn’t do something I wasn’t proud of I’d write it down on a sticky note and I would fix it. My senior year in high school I was a total different David Goggins. I had a laundry list of things that I would write down and just fix. I’d write it down and fix it.”
What’s interesting is that this simple daily habit of self-reflection on the prior day is a theme in top performers.
Cadel Evans, Australia’s greatest ever cyclist, Tour de France Winner, 2x World Champion, and 4x Olympian like David Goggins also has a similar habit of daily self-reflection.
I write the scores into a little notebook next to my bed. It’s a simple book with lined pages and a blue cover. It’s my training notebook. I write in it every day because, at 15, I have become my own psychologist and motivator. “
The training diary formalises by regimen and helps me prioritise everything in my daily life. And it creates my mindset. Over time, I develop discipline and motivation and the ability to make sacrifices because I have practiced how to do it. By writing it down, I formalise what I’m thinking, put a structure to it. The more I get used to writing down the score, the less I’m inclined to veer from my targets.”
What did I learn today?What could I do better tomorrow?”
This daily self-reflection habit is a 60-second exercise, and it can change your life.
What did you learn yesterday?
What can you do better today?
Additional Reading & Resources
- Watch the Full Interview with David Goggins and Tom Bilyeu on Impact Theory
- Read more about David Goggins in, Living with a Navy Seal: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet
- Watch this presentation by David Goggins on ‘Embracing the Suck.’
- Read this blog here on the 7 Lessons Learned from Cadel Evans on What it Takes to Win