Summary of Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

  • Post category:Summaries
  • Post last modified:February 1, 2024


  • It doesn’t matter how crappy life is. You can always improve it by working hard.
  • Your physical or mental disadvantages can be overcome by hard work.
  • Every battle you will ever fight in your life will be fought in your mind.
  • The 10 Mental Shifts to become unstoppable are:
    • The Accountability Mirror: write what your current situation is, how to get out of it, and what your goals are
    • Taking Souls: Silence whoever is doubting you by doubling down when you’re about to give up.
    • The Calloused Mind: When you’re about to give up, remember how every painful moment of your life was an obstacle to make you stronger.
    • On Accepting Yourself: Accept your past, accept that you were weak, then let it go. It’s the only way to get rid of traumas.
    • Visualization: Visualize your future hurdle and see yourself getting out of them.
    • The Cookie Jar: Put all of your happy moments inside a “cookie jar” and revisit it when you feel you’re about to quit.
    • No Shortcut
    • The Governor: The Governor is that voice in your head calling you weak. Don’t listen to it and push further when that voice becomes insistent.
    • The 40% Rule: You’re only living at 40% of your potential.
    • What If?: What if you could get what you want if you didn’t quit?

Summary: 18 minutes

Book reading time: 9h15

Score: 7/10

Book published in: 2018

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Table of Contents




What Can’t Hurt Me Talks About

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Summary of Can’t Hurt Me Written by David Goggins

Comfort prevents you from realizing your true potential.

You need to unshackle your mind. To do so:

  • Get rid of the victim mentality forever.
  • Own your life.
  • Build a foundation.

Don’t stop when you are tired. Stop when you are done.


You think you know who you are but you have more potential than you think.

Your life is what it is due to the choices you’ve made. These choices stem from your own nature. This is why self-help motivational speeches are temporary fixes – they don’t change your nature, just your emotions in instant T.

Right now, you’re probably living at 40% of your capacity.

It’s time to end that.

Chapter 1: I Should Have Been a Statistic

David grew up with a brother, a loving mother, and a violent father. His dad was a businessman who made his sons work for him at night and beat them up if they didn’t meet his unattainable standards.

He also cheated on his wife and beat her often.

When David was eight years old, his mum divorced his dad, so they moved out to another city. David never saw his dad again (he would only see his brother some fifteen years later).

David struggled at school and did not learn as fast as the other kids.

So he cheated.

Challenge #1

What are the current factors limiting your growth and success? Were you beaten, bullied, etc as a kid? Are you standing in your own way?

Write everything down to the smallest detail.

This story – your story – is full of excuses for why you should not succeed. So, they will fuel your success.

Once you have your list of things preventing you from moving forward, share it with whoever you want.

Chapter 2: Truth Hurts

David’s mum eventually met a good guy whom David liked.

He asked David’s mom to marry her when David was 14 years old.

She accepted.

Unfortunately, he was murdered shortly after.

A year later, David rode the bus to go to school, and the bus rode over a six-year-old who got instantly killed.

The years passed.

Racism became worse and worse in David’s city and, on the brink of desperation, he couldn’t take it anymore.

The only reason he still had hope was due to his dream of joining the Air Force.

One day, he met Scott Gearen, a pararescue. Gearen told him how he got into an accident and was told he would never recover.

Yet 18 months later, he recovered and went back to his job.

This story profoundly impacted David. He understood he had to work hard. When he found out he had to get good grades to get into the army, he became serious about school.

One day, as he was looking at himself in the mirror after his mum kicked him out of the house for a week, he made a decision: no more easy path. No more cheating.

He wrote his goals on post-its and glued them on the mirror (which he called Accountability Mirror, more on that below).

And so David got to work.

He began to study, work out, and play basketball seriously.

He ran all the time too.

After some time, he craved the good feelings that discomfort gave him.

He became rough and resilient, and achieved his goal to join the Air Force.

The hate he had accumulated through the years of trauma faded away. He developed confidence thanks to personal accountability. He finally respected himself.

The Accountability Mirror doesn’t lie, since it reflects exactly who you are and where you are in life.

The Accountability Mirror demands honesty. You need to tell the truth. If you’re fat, tell yourself you’re fat.

If you suck, tell yourself you suck. That’s ok. You’ll just need to work hard now, in order to lose weight or not suck.

Call yourself out!

The problem today is that no one likes to hear the truth.

But if you want to change, you need to see what there is.

Challenge #2

Write your insecurities, dreams, and goals on post-its and glue these post-its on your mirror.

If you are:

  • too dumb-> study
  • too fat -> lose weight
  • too skinny -> workout

Own who you are!

Whatever your goal is, you need to be honest about where you are on your path, and what you need to get done.

Chapter 3: The Impossible Task

David joined the airforce and four years later, lost all of his enthusiasm. He had become a zombie, and was unhappy.

Eventually, he made it to the pararescue training for which had to swim. Since he didn’t know how, he taught himself.

One day, he was given the chance to be discharged due to medical reasons, and he took it.

It hurt. He felt like a quitter.

By the time he left the Air Force, he weighed 150 kg. He wanted to be big because inside, he knew he was a puss*.

Later on, he became obsessed with a show about Navy Seals, so he decided to become one.

He called every recruiter’s office and got an appointment.

He was told he couldn’t weigh more than 190 pounds, and he weighed 297. He’d have to lose the weight in three months.

After a brief episode of desperation, he got to work, and decided to push himself to his absolute best.

Whenever he’d cut a workout short because he was tired, he’d go back to the gym to do the entire workout again. He could not be dishonest with himself.

He failed the knowledge test once, but succeeded the second time.

He was on his way to the SEALs.

Challenge #3

Write down all the things you don’t like to do or that make you feel uncomfortable.

Highlight those which are good for you.

Go do one of them. Then do them again.

Do something that sucks every day.

Once it becomes comfortable, go further.

The more you make yourself feel uncomfortable, the stronger you will become.

Chapter 4: Takings Souls

The SEAL training lasts 6 months, and 2/3 never make it.

David tried a first time but was pulled back when he caught pneumonia. So he tried a second time.

He learned that everything in life is a mind game. No matter how bad something is, the pain eventually stops.

He also developed a concept called “Taking Souls”. Taking Souls is a game you play with your own mind by forcing yourself to overperform so that your enemy is surprised – your enemy has “his soul taken”.

During the SEAL training, he learned that all pain is finite. Smile at it. It will end eventually. Victory is about bringing your best when you feel your worst – and not quitting.

Goggins did not only survive his second Hell Week – he thrived. This is when and how he understood that he had much more inside himself than he thought.

Challenge #4

The only way to turntables and earn respect in competitions is to show excellence.

And the only way to be excellent is to work harder.

Achieve what your opponent/superior could never do themselves.

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