Bookshelf

Never Finished

Unshackle Yourself and Win the War Within

by David Goggins, 299 pages

Finished on 22nd of December, 2022, buy here.
Listen to these book notes on the Teesche Podcast.

David Goggins, considered by many to be the hardest motherfucker living on the planet, uses this second book of his to dive deeper into his own psychology. Itโ€™s back to the roots of his ultra running, Leadville 100 and Moab 240, but then it centers around humility and service.

๐Ÿš€ The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. David Goggins has stayed true to how we know him to be: Never giving up on anything despite everything that has been thrown in front of him.
  2. A good chunk of the book deals with his Leadville 100 and Moab 240 ultra racing experiences, which are perfect examples to show his grit and ability to deal with problems as they occur as well as use his hard-ass mind to get through it all.
  3. He moved from an inward-focused person towards seeing the benefits of his actions to others – in terms of providing inspiration but also directly by becoming an emergency room medic and a smokejumper firefighter in his late forties, showing his humility and quest to service others.

๐ŸŽจ Impressions

It was hard for me to put the book down because it is written so lively and picks up nearly directly after the ending of the previous book, Can’t Hurt Me, which was already quite captivating. Goggins is talking a lot about ultra running, because the sport is a great metaphor for life itself: learning to keep going and enjoying the journey despite all the problems which come up.

Some previously untold chapters of his difficult childhood are part of the book, too. Living with his ex-military grandfather during the years of adolescence certainly made such a huge impression on him, it’s hard to see why it was omitted in the previous book.

It’s especially great to see how his thinking evolved towards maximizing his output towards service to other in later years. The smokejumper training in British Columbia, Canada, at negative 30 degrees Celsius with all his health problems was a high-point for me, because he made it about getting most of his fellow rookies to graduate, and not only to be the hardest one of them.

This man is living proof that one should always lead by example.

๐Ÿ€ How the Book Changed Me

  • Living a life dedicated to serving others and exhibiting humility is the ideal way of life to strive for.
  • Leading by example and showing what humans are capable of if they set their mind to it is the most powerful way of positively influencing others.
  • A small piece of wisdom: Doctors are not responsible to make you healthy again. YOU are.

๐Ÿ“” Highlights & Notes

Introduction

Because that is the only way to rediscover and reignite belief—that flicker in the darkness with the power to spark your evolution. Belief is a gritty, potent, primordial force.

Life is the mountain we are all climbing, but hope is not an anchor point. It’s too soft, fluffy, and fleeting.

Then there’s the belief born in resilience. It comes from working your way through layers of pain, fatigue, and reason, and ignoring the ever-present temptation to quit until you strike a source of fuel you didn’t even know existed. One that eliminates all doubt, makes you certain of your strength and the fact that eventually, you will prevail, so long as you keep moving forward. That is the level of belief that can defy the expectations of scientists and change everything. It’s not an emotion to be shared or an intellectual concept, and nobody else can give it to you. It must bubble up from within.

Unfortunately, most people are not desperate enough to do anything about it. When you’re hogtied in conflicting emotions and other people’s opinions, it’s impossible to tap into belief and easy to drift away from that urge to evolve.

I’m still haunted, but I’ve traded in my demons for evil-ass angels, and now, it’s a good haunting. I’m haunted by my future goals, not my past failures.

1. Maximize Minimal Potential

All of us are dealt circumstances in life we don’t have any power to control.

That night, on my drive home to Indiana, I accepted the hard truth that hoping and wishing are like gambling on long shots, and if I wanted to be better, I had to start living every day with a sense of urgency.

Evolution No. 1

You have been preoccupied by bullshit for way too long. It’s time to switch your focus to the things that will slingshot you forward.

2. Merry Fucking Christmas

You cannot be afraid to disappoint people. You have to live the life you want to live. Sometimes, that means being the motherfucker who can put a middle finger up to everyone in the room and be totally comfortable with that.

Evolution No. 2

Don’t be afraid of your weakness or doubt. Don’t be embarrassed and pretend it doesn’t exist. It surfaced for a reason, so use it to flip the dynamic of your life.

Don’t crawl up in a corner worried about the people who disrespect you. Repackage what you’re hearing and feeling until it works for you!

I’m the person who turns their every negative word into my positive progress. I take what they serve me, roll it up in that wrapping paper I saved way back when, and shove it right up their fucking asses in the form of another work-out, another long run, and another year of leveling the fuck up.

3. The Mental Lab

Mental toughness and resilience fade if they aren’t used consistently. I say it all the time: you are either getting better, or you’re getting worse.

This was unusual because unlike most people, I can’t check out mentally when I run, and I don’t use those miles to think about my to-do list. I have to stay locked in because I’m not a naturally gifted runner. The reason I can run at a relatively quick clip for a long time is due to my training volume but also because when I run, I focus on my stride, remain conscious of where and how my feet strike the ground and on my head and shoulder position. I visualize myself running with a tray of full water glasses on my head. I don’t want any sway or bounce at all. I remain still yet relaxed and let my core and legs carry me forward.

The ego is an amazing force. The more I heard about my own success, the more tempting it became to coast, as if I’d finally arrived.

Evolution No. 3

It helps to remind yourself of what you’re good at and where you excel so when you have to engage in something that is hard for you, it doesn’t become overwhelming. Tell yourself, I’m good here. I’m great there. This sucks, but it will be over in twenty minutes. Maybe it’s twenty miles or twenty days or twenty weeks, but it doesn’t matter. Every experience on earth is finite. It will end someday, and that makes it doable, but the outcome hinges on those crucial seconds you must win!

Control your thought process and get through the most difficult test first. That way, if you do bow out, you’ll know it wasn’t a reaction based on panic.

Respect is earned every day by waking up early, challenging yourself with new dreams or digging up old nightmares, and embracing the suck like you have nothing and have never done a damn thing in your life.

There are 86,400 seconds in a day. Losing just one of those seconds can change the outcome of your day and, potentially, your life.

4. A Savage Reborn

The end will come when it comes, and anticipation will only distract you from completing the task in front of you to the best of your ability. Remember, the struggle is the whole journey.

A grumpy samurai still clinging to the old ways. I snatched them [talking about the formerly despised mountain running poles], irritated that I was abandoning the hard-ass old ultra ethic. Then again, the sport had evolved, and this was an opportunity for me to evolve with it. As he promised, those poles took so much pressure off my legs they suddenly felt fresh, and I charged up that steep-ass mountain.

My entire existence in that school was built around avoiding exposure. It wasn’t about studying or improving.

I became a full-time savage who walked the distant, narrow path with cliffs rising on both sides, no aid stations or rest areas, and no turnouts or exits of any kind. Whatever popped up in front of me had to be dealt with head-on because the full-time savage sees everything in life as an opportunity to learn, adapt, and evolve.

5. Disciple of Discipline

Well, I am proof that rebirth is possible through discipline, which is the only thing capable of altering your DNA. It is the skeleton key that can get you past all the gatekeepers and into each and every room you wish to enter. Even the ones built to keep you the fuck out!

Allow discipline to seep into your cells until work becomes a reflex as automatic as breathing. With discipline as your medium, your life will become a work of art.

It will always be up to you to find the lesson in every shitty situation and use it to become stronger, wiser, and better. No matter what comes down on your head, you must find a glimmer of light, remain positive, and never treat yourself as a victim.

Evolution No. 5

Those who learn to adapt survive and thrive. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Get strategic. Attack the problem.

I’m never satisfied, but you must appreciate what you have while staying hungry enough to learn everything you can.

It was never about him [talking about the humility of Master Sergeant William Crawford, who after having earned a Medal of Honor, went on to become a janitor continuing to service others], and that gave him strength. People who feel sorry for themselves are obsessed with their own problems and their own fate.

The higher I climb in my life, the more I realize how much I need to mop that floor.

Once you make it in this world, you have to freefall back to the bottom in some way to keep learning and growing.

Continued growth only comes when you are willing to be humble.

6. The Art of Getting Hit in the Mouth

The rewards I seek are internal, and if you have that mindset, you will find opportunities for growth everywhere. During tough times, that growth can be exponential.

Remember, the goal is always to complete the mission—whatever it may be—with no regrets and a clear head, so you can use it to progress in life.

If something surprises you in anything you are trying to accomplish these days, with so much free knowledge at our fingertips, it is because you didn’t prepare well enough, and there is no excuse for that.

Evolution No. 6

Old friends are great and shared history is to be respected, but not every person who has been in your life a long time is looking out for your best interests. Some of them are threatened by your growth because of how it impacts them. Some are looking for a friend to keep them company in their half-ass lives.

Not all friends and loved ones react that way when you change and become committed to perpetual growth. Some are genuinely offended, and you don’t need or want their voices in your head.

7. The Reckoning

The only thing more infectious than a good attitude is a bad one. The more you dwell on the negative, the weaker you feel, and that weakness infects those around you.

When your entire day is fucked up, make sure that you achieve something positive before lights out. You’ll probably have to stay up a bit later to read, study, get a workout in, or clean the house.

The crew felt bad [talking about nearly destroying his own body during an ultra race], but I didn’t need or want their sympathy. I couldn’t use it. Sympathy has no power. Humor, on the other hand, picks everyone up.

Evolution No. 7

In order to sustain that amount of energy output, self-leaders return again and again to the organizing ideals of their lives. They live for something bigger than themselves, and because of that, their lives swell and glow with an energy that others can feel.

Who will you become and what do you want to stand for? Are you ready to be the standard? If you are willing, share your oath to self.

8. Play Until the Whistle

With every unfortunate turn in life, no matter how heavy the weight, you have to be committed to pushing back against that pressure with effort. No matter your age, abilities, disabilities, or responsibilities, we must all stay committed to finding our new benchmarks.

Evolution No. 8

Greatness is a state of letting go of all your faults and imperfections, scavenging every last bit of strength and energy, and putting it the fuck to use to excel at whatever you set your mind to.

Privileged kids say, “I have too much, so I cannot develop the skills that you have.” The kid that came from nothing will tell me, “I don’t have enough. Therefore, I cannot develop the skills that you have.”

Identity is a trap that will keep you in blinders if you let it.

You cannot allow what someone else may or may not think about you or the issues you’re dealing with to stop your progress.

It’s time to level-up and seek out that blue-to-black line. The line that separates good from great. It is within each one of us.

9. Wringing out the Soul

When it comes to age, we seem to share a common misperception of how we should feel or where we should be based on a number when sometimes, the problem isn’t chronological. Often it isn’t Father Time that is fucking you up but his brother, Father Fatigue.

I don’t mean to suggest that you must run one hundred or two hundred miles to believe you have what it takes to get where you want to go. That’s what I had to do based on the depth of the darkness I came from and the scale of my ambitions.

I never needed to be the hardest motherfucker in the world. That became a goal because I knew it would bring out my best self. Which is what this fucked-up world needs from all of us: to evolve into the very best versions of ourselves. That’s a moving target, and it isn’t a one-time task. It is a lifelong quest for more knowledge, more courage, more humility, and more belief. Because when you summon the strength and discipline to live like that, the only thing limiting your horizons is you.

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