All of David Goggins’ Mental Shifts to Reach Full Potential

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  • Post last modified:November 1, 2022

I wrote down Goggins’ mind tricks when I read Can’t Hurt Me.

Find them below.

1. The Accountability Mirror

The Accountability Mirror is a mirror on which you write what your current situation is, how to get out of it, and what your goals are.

The beauty of the AM is that it doesn’t lie.

It shows you exactly who you are, stripping the truth from every embellishing story you tell yourself.

David used the AM at the very beginning to assess his situation and plan his next step.

2. Taking Souls

Taking souls is a practice aimed at silencing whoever is doubting you.

The idea behind it is simple: when your “bully” thinks you are about to give up, double down and show them you’re much tougher than they think you are!

David found out about this trick when he was training to become a SEAL.

No matter how much his supervisor was trying to break him, it seemed it only made him tougher.

When his leaders understood they wouldn’t manage to weaken David, they left him be.

3. The Calloused Mind

The calloused mind is a practice that helps you double down when the temptation to quit is the strongest.

Instead of thinking about how much you want to stop, remember every painful moment in your life, every humiliation, every time you’ve suffered, and realize that these weren’t punishments to bring you down, but obstacles to fortify your mind and body!

Switch the way you look at your past. Don’t look at it as a tragedy. Look at it as a training ground!

Every obstacle made you strong and prepared you for this very moment. It prepared you to endure the pain and go further than you ever have, to push your limits!

When you think about these things, something will happen in your brain. You will tap into your sympathetic nervous system, the pain will decrease and you will gain motivation.

Always be optimistic. A negative outlook will not trigger the calloused mind.

4. On Accepting Yourself

The majority of people lead mediocre lives due to psychological issues they have not resolved. Their trauma is preventing them from being their best selves.

The only way to solve a trauma is to revisit it, write it down, accept what happened, let go, and move on.

When you go back to your past and identify all of the moments when you were weak, you free yourself from them and accept what happened.

Accepting and making peace with your past helps you accept yourself in the present.

5. Visualization

Visualization is powerful.

Goggins used it before a tough race or a difficult challenge.

First, he would learn everything he could about it and prepare physically as best as possible.

Once the physical prep was done, he’d take care of the mental prep with visualization.

Since he knew almost everything about his challenge, he visualized what awaited him. He would imagine himself struggling, suffering, and eventually succeeding.

Preparing himself this way helped him pace his future, and improve the odds of avoiding quitting.

Side note: visualization is great, but it’s no substitute for preparation.

6. The Cookie Jar

The cookie jar is intimately linked to the calloused mind.

The cookie jar is a mental pool containing every happy moment and every unhappy moment of your life.

It helps you answer the question “why am I doing this” when you are in the midst of a difficult challenge.

It helps you understand that on one hand, the painful moments made you who you are so you can ultimately triumph; on the other hand, the cookie jar is a promise for many more happy moments like the ones you’ve already had.

It’s the ultimate justification for the pain you’re enduring.

7. No Shortcut

Mastery does not tolerate shortcuts.

Shortcuts exist to get better results with the same amount of pain/effort.

It can neither scale nor work in the long term.

The only way to go beyond your limitations is to do more, and better.

8. The Governor

The governor is an imaginary psychological limitation that prevents us from exploiting 100% of our capacity.

It’s the reason why we don’t achieve more.

The governor is that little voice in our head that tells us we suck and that we won’t make it.

You need to do two things to take off your governor and access your full potential:

  1. Don’t listen to your voice.
  2. When you feel like you cannot keep moving anymore, push just 5%-10% more. Doing so, you will unlock more potential.

9. The 40% Rule

Goggins believes that most people live up to 40% of their potential.

The remaining 60% is locked due to the governor. People never push above their capacities because they’re weak.

The reason why they’re weak is that they live in an environment that is too comfortable.

It makes them lazy. It makes them hate pain. And it prevents them from pushing further.

If you want to go over your 40%, you need to:

  • Stretch your pain tolerance
  • Let go of your identity
  • Let go of your self-limiting beliefs

10. What If?

What if is Goggins’ last trick.

To everyone that ever doubted you — including yourself — the most powerful thing to answer is what if.

What if it was possible? What if they were wrong? What if you were right?

What if opens the door of possibility. It gets you to try and see what happens.

It keeps you moving forward.

It prevents you from quitting.


David Goggins’ 10 psychological tricks are:

  1. The Accountability Mirror
  2. Taking Souls
  3. The Calloused Mind
  4. Accepting Yourself
  5. Visualization
  6. The Cookie Jar
  7. No Shortcut
  8. The Governor
  9. The 40% Rule
  10. What if

These are the 10 concepts Goggins used to push himself beyond his limits and achieved his victories.

Use them with care.

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