Can’t Hurt Me Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Can’t Hurt Me is the story of David Goggins, who went from being overweight and depressed to becoming a record-breaking athlete, inspiring military leader, and world-class personal trainer.

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Can't Hurt Me Summary

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When it comes to getting fit, a lot of us find excuses. We’re too busy, we sleep in, we don’t feel like it. But what happens when we stop making excuses? 

David Goggins stopped making excuses and started giving life 100%. If you’ve heard his name, it’s probably because this former Air Force serviceman and Navy SEAL is also an ultra-endurance athlete and once held a world record for the most pull-ups in 24 hours. He is one of the toughest people alive.

His success wasn’t handed to him, though. Goggins had a terribly hard life. After surviving an abusive and traumatic childhood he faced poverty and became overweight in his twenties. As a result of the trauma from his childhood, he was nearly illiterate as a teen. None of this stopped him, though.

Now he’s here to help you stop backing away from challenges, too. In his book Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, he teaches it’s the difficult things in life that make you the strongest.

These are the 3 most impactful lessons I’ve learned:

  1. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or how much trauma you’ve experienced, you can always come out stronger.
  2. Instead of believing in overnight success, work hard and push yourself to be your best self. 
  3. Take advantage of the 40% rule to become the master of your mind and achieve more than you thought possible.

Are you ready to get the most out of yourself, and out of life? Let’s discover how!

Can’t Hurt Me Summary

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Lesson 1: Regardless of the obstacle you face, you can overcome and grow from it.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” According to Goggins, this rings true.

He had escaped his abusive father as a child, but the trauma he had endured continued to negatively affect him into his twenties. He experienced “toxic stress” that made him do very poorly in school to the point that he was barely literate. In his twenties, he had a dead-end job and began to cope with his feelings through food. Soon, he was almost 300 pounds. 

After seeing a documentary about the Navy SEALs, he became determined he would become a SEAL himself. He was well over the weight limit of 191 pounds, but he didn’t let this stop him. Remarkably, he lost 109 pounds in just 3 months.

After achieving the goal of becoming a SEAL, he continued to push himself. At one point he set the world record for pull-ups, among many other impressive fitness accomplishments. 

How could he achieve all of this? He made the decision to stop seeing himself as a victim of circumstance, and instead began seeing life as “the ultimate training ground.” He says remembering the things you have been able to overcome is the best way to convince yourself to keep going when you want to quit. 

If you’ve been given a bad hand in life, look for the advantages it gives you. All of the difficulties and pain you experience make you stronger. Challenges in life are like weight-lifting. The more we lift and overcome, the stronger we will be.

Lesson 2: If you want to get to the next level, work hard and persevere through your limits.

Goggins is not only a SEAL but an ultra-endurance athlete. Forget marathons; he has done day-long 100-mile races. Whenever people ask how he was able to do so much, he says it all comes down to work ethic

Society today loves quick fixes to things. But when it comes to mastering yourself, there is no quick fix. The reason he can do so much is because of his ability to work hard. And to those who say they don’t have time to accomplish lofty goals in life, Goggins says they need to be early birds.

Goggins also teaches us that part of our mind that holds us back in life is the “governor” in our mind. It knows our limits, tells us not to take risks, and feeds on insecurities. To remove the governor, we need to push past our comfort zone. 

We need to realize when things get the hardest is when we have the chance to callous our minds and push past our limits. According to Goggins, “Victory often comes down to bringing your very best when you feel your worst.”

Lesson 3: Stop using 40% of your effort and give life 100%.

You know that feeling at the end of a long workout where you feel like you gave it your all and you can’t do anymore? 

According to Goggins, you still have 60% to give! It may sound crazy, but as humans, we tend to give up after giving only 40% of our maximum power. It’s only once you give up the false notion that you have given your maximum effort that you can really grow.

Pushing past that 40% level will increase your pain tolerance and allow you to let go of your self-limiting mindset.

This is the 40% rule. When you start pushing your way past the 40% that most of the rest of the world seems to be content with, you will unlock a higher performance level. With this, you will find extraordinary results.

Can’t Hurt Me Review

Can’t Hurt Me is truly inspiring. We learn what it takes to master our mind from someone who has overcome huge obstacles and become one of the toughest people on earth. He helps us break our mental roadblocks and take control of our success. By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll be ready to dump your excuses and do and become better than ever before.

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Who would I recommend the Can’t Hurt Me summary to?

The 16-year-old runner who wants a new perspective on working out, a 32-year-old survivor of abuse that is looking for inspiration to start fresh and become their best self, and anyone going through something difficult that needs encouragement.

Last Updated on August 17, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.