Look out Tony Robbins, you are about to be replaced by David Goggins.
“Motivation is just empty words.”
Think about that the next time you decide you want to “join a gym”, “lose weight”, or “tone up”.
Those of us who have been very successful with transformations take it several levels beyond motivation. We obsess. I obsess usually day in and day out, but the level of intensity doesn’t have to be like looking at the sun for some, as it is for me.
Recently, I’ve become enamored with the story of David Goggins. There are a lot of parallels with our lives, and I have been truly inspired by his story.
What struck me as him being a “kindred spirit” to me was when he was on the Joe Rogan show and talked about motivation.
Essentially, he said, “motivation is just empty words”. For him, motivation leads to people being driven, and driven people become obsessed.
MOTIVATION –> DRIVEN –> OBSESSED
To me, that defined who I am. People around me sometimes are put off by me. It’s not good enough to try something. I have to emerge myself in it. Live it. Breathe it. I have to own that shit. To others observing my behaviors, it’s fair to say I am obsessed about things.
I also identified with some of his life in high school. You try to invent someone who is liked by others, who is accepted. You want acceptance. But it’s not good enough. You never feel good enough, accepted, or one of the group. You always feel like an outsider. It hit home for me in high school, where I had transferred schools after moving 5 miles. While I loved my new high school and eventually made some good friends, I was never part of their cliques that they had from kindergarten. I was a transient person who never quite fit in with multiple groups. I tried. I never had a “best friend” in high school – those who I were close with already had their besties since early elementary school. I felt alone, a lot.
Later, this suited me for pledging a fraternity. I needed to belong to something. You wanted to be part of a group. Even when in the group, they have their own cliques, and I still didn’t really fit into some of them. 20+ years later, my closest friends are some of those fraternity guys, and I’m still on the outside looking in to most of those cliques. I don’t really have social contact outside of this group. They saw my soul during pledging…they have seen the best and worst in me, my true colors. I move jobs every 3-5 years in IT, so I never get super close with people outside of work. I’m pretty shy in person to people I don’t know, so it’s not like I will ever strike up “gym friendships” or the like. Some people are so good at making new friends. I’m not one of those people. I wish I was.
For extreme motivation, you have to go into the “cookie jar”, he says. And that’s exactly what I’ve done my entire life. I just never had the concept defined so eloquently. The cookie jar can be dark, it can be snippets of time where life sucked, it can be slights. There are nuggets in everyone which we can bring up and use as a form of fuel for fighting pain.
Goggins also took things to 9 levels above what I thought was possible. He did Navy SEAL hell week 3 times in a year, then for good measure, he went into Army Ranger training. He talked about smiling at those who were killing him to get into their heads. At times, when times were really tough, he’d start whistling or humming music.
The cookie jar he talks about a lot.
He says that if you decide you want to go running, that’s motivation. But when it’s cold out, people will go to the back door, see how cold it is, and go sit back on the warm couch. That’s the extent of motivation. However – those who are madly determined…obsessed – will go out that back door and “embrace the suck” as he calls it, and go run harder than they ever have.
I did this on Thanksgiving when we had 13 degree wind chills for my 5k.
For those of you who are wildly obese, it’s just not good enough to say you want to lose weight. It’s just not enough. You have to embrace pain and suffering. Until you do that, you will never be successful. I find it often, then I have the day after or two pain which reminds me constantly of what I sacrificed. Some days I train MUCH harder than others. Not every session is about destroying yourself. But in every training session, you have to find some level of discomfort – it’s how you get better and stronger.
I want you to find people on the internet who have lost 100+ pounds where it was “easy” and “effortless”. Good luck with that. By nature, we are taught from early on to avoid pain. To not put our finger in the outlet. To not put our hands over an open flame. However, to “be your best”, you need to embrace pain. Think about best-selling diet books and programs that promise “5 minute abs” and effortless weight loss through pills. We run towards the easy path, always. However – that is not the path that will take you to the promised land, I promise you that.
When I was 372 pounds, something one day snapped in me. I’m not going to get into it here, but something just broke. That’s for a shrink 20 years from now. And, it exponentially grew in strength. Now, I didn’t go through Navy SEAL training, but I did run 2-3 miles a lot at 370+ pounds. I injured my foot and continued to run. Every fucking step hurt. I separated myself from the pain. I then was walking 4-5 miles a day in my development while severely limping. One day, at 355 pounds, my back had a spasm and it sent me to the floor, and eventually the hospital. I literally couldn’t move. Pain, suffering, and me were just starting to get to know each other.
We’d become best friends before long.
With respect to the cookie jar. This has been a secret weapon of mine, but I’ve not clearly been able to define it, until now.
Growing up, it used to be…
“if I can do this, that girl might like me”
“If I’m good at this, my team will accept me”
“If I score the best on all of these tests, I will be respected”
“If I was madly talented on the trumpet, this girl might like me”
I would excel. I would dominate tests, challenges, etc. But none of those promises came true. You see, I had no self image. I’d walk into a room of 100, and instantly I knew I was the fattest or ugliest person in the room. I felt my other achievements or accolades might make me more attractive. No…I found that people are much more than resumes.
I was doing it for the acceptance of others, and not me. It was a means to an objective. I was a lost person who tried to define himself by a resume. Eventually, in college, food, drinking, and smokes became my best friends. They’d take pain away. “Numb thyself”, as I used to call it. I could never look myself in the mirror. I had no self esteem. I HATED the camera. But I knew that a bite of that pizza would light up my brain in happiness. I knew that getting 10 beers deep would erase searing pain of some girl, whether she broke my heart or if I broke hers and couldn’t live with myself. Smokes would calm me. I would obsess about the past. I couldn’t let go of these pains and my cocktail of booze, smokes, and food were just (not) what the doctor ordered.
Perhaps I was obsessed about every negative event in my life, I don’t know. It’s a safe bet that I was.
All those things did were to put me in suspended animation of development for 15-20 years. I never progressed as a person, I simply relied on these crutches to get me through day to day. I lived a “Groundhog Day”, if you will, continuing to do the same thing day in and day out. I avoided pain. It was too hard.
Somewhere along the way, this changed. My cookie jar, if you will, is filled with people who doubted me, names people called me, every rejection I’ve ever had, every slight I’ve ever had, every time a significant other was mean to me – and every person I know who is or has suffered. The cookie jar I have now is far more powerful than the one I had in my teens. It’s dangerous. I have enough in there to fight any pain I can bring upon myself. Exorcise demons and SLAY them.
The difference for me was that earlier on, it was about trying to fit in and be good enough for others. Now, I know I’m good enough, and it’s a FUCK YOU to everyone who slighted me, ever. The pain when running 6 miles….or biking 30 miles…or swimming for an hour straight when I’m still well over 200 pounds…. You fire on some music and you start to get these flashes, which lead to a deep motivation to then fire you well beyond your physical limitations. It becomes rocket fuel. Your internal pain is fighting directly with your body pain – you step aside and let them fuck each other up real good while you bounce to the tunes. Afterwards, there’s this inner tranquility that cannot be described. PEACE. QUIET. CALM. Obsession is gone. It is replaced by….silence.
Make no mistake – Goggins is on another stratosphere of existence. However, he was able to articulate a method I have used to help me lose 140+ pounds – as well as succeed I in most things I’ve done as an adult. Yes, I do keto and I’m on point with my diet. Yes, I was on point with my diet before keto for a year. But those times I do fasting Fridays…or even my 72 hour fast – I am “embracing the suck” and whatever hunger I have is shoved down by different items in the cookie jar. It helps me avoid those traps at the office parties, holidays, or any other sorry ass excuse to feed my pie hole stupid shit.
A switch flipped that once sought ease and comfort now sought pain and suffering. And it’s helped me grow as a person, both in accomplishment and drive. Recently, I have told people I’ve been trying to get into the armed services within cyber. I have a very strong aptitude and career in this field – and I’m exactly the type of person our country is looking for. What was interesting was there is little to no support. Doubters. Something I wanted to do my whole life but was too fat for….and now, for the first time in my life, it’s an option on the table, and there is little support? I guess most people don’t know what to make of it. Fucking rocket fuel. Sign me up. Another hurdle put in front of me? Let’s run at it at 50 mph head on. It’s not reckless abandon. It’s the ability to finally do things I haven’t my whole life.
For example, I don’t travel. When you are 350 pounds, a few things happen. First, airline seats don’t work. Good luck. Then, you go to a tropical climate that’s 96 degrees and you see everyone else in bathing suits and you are sweating and wearing 8 layers of clothing to not show off your awesome body. Walking is brutal.
So, now I can fit in an airline seat. I’m probably not jumping on a plane tomorrow – but this is an option all of you take for granted every day that I couldn’t do for 20 years. All of you essentially had the choice of joining the military from a young age, and many of you opted not to for various reasons – but it was something I had wanted and was never an option for me.
Life is opening up options for me….
What I’ve done in my last 26 months is embrace the pain, the suck….and it has opened more and more options and doors for me that I’ve never had as an adult. And it seems the more doors that open for me, the more others want to close them – this is an irony I was not expecting. I don’t know the mentality behind it, but freedom is about choices, and I just feel like I’m more free now than I’ve ever been in my life. The more discipline I instill in myself, the freer I become. Yet the more the cage is placed around me. There was a quote I used to love….”Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage”. I think it’s from “To Lucasta, from prison” – maybe Lovelace or Wordsworth. It was a guy who was physically in a jail cell, but they could not own his mind. His free will was not their property.
If any of you have not seen David Goggins or know his story, you have to check it out. He said that…his name was David Goggins, but he sort of invented a character named “Goggins” that could take all the shit. It sounds somewhat like multiple personality disorder – or bordering on it – but I can identify with it. There are times you have to become something different in order to overcome. Find that next level shit.
Here’s the one issue I have with David Goggins. He talks about doing things that suck and going into the cookie jar – but he does things that also put his body in peril and tempt death. For example, he talks about his first 100 mile race he did in 19 hours. He hadn’t run in over a year, and the most he ever ran may have been 15-20 miles. He did 101 miles in 19 hours, and almost died in the process. Where I would differ from Goggins is that I feel these lessons can be powerful for morbidly obese people to get off the couch and DO….but to not be reckless in the process.
At one point, David was 23 years old and an ex air force soldier who was spraying for cockroaches in restaurants while he was 297 pounds. One day, he quit in the middle of his shift and took off massive amounts of weight and joined the navy. Later, he became a SEAL.
I feel his story is truly inspiring and would urge anyone that has weight to lose to check him out. But don’t go run 100 miles and die.
You only really get to know yourself in those moments where you are challenging yourself. Those who stop challenging themselves get soft…and they are eventually embracing suspended animation until death. I want to continually challenge myself as a person in a variety of ways to continue to get to know myself and what I’m made of. I’m more than a resume – and being able to overcome challenges then gives you the esteem and confidence you need to succeed further. It opens doors to life. It allows for more menu choices. It makes you more free.
And, I’d postulate, happiness is found when you are able to make choices from as many options out there.
motivation –> driven –> obsession –> freedom –> happiness
You’d feel that joining a gym will then make you skinny and you will be happy.
What I’d tell you is that joining a gym or running is a means to find pain and suffering, which tests your mettle, which then can fuel an end goal of fat loss. As you reach end goals, it gives you confidence and self esteem and it opens up doors for you which, in turn, gives you tons of freedom of choice – and therefore happiness.
I would then reverse engineer this.
Those of you who are unhappy, look at the root cause of it. Is it because you have limited or no freedom of choice?
Then, I’d take it one step further.
What is stopping you from changing your situation – is it too hard? Too much work? You’re too old? Too fat? Not enough college?
You are therefore unhappy because you choose to be unhappy. You choose safety and comfort TODAY to be unhappy long term over pain and suffering today to be happy long term.
This reminds me of bentham and Kant. You learn about utilitarianism and choice. Kant’s “greatest happiness theory” suggests the utility of the best choice is derived from serving the greatest long term measure oh happiness. Meaning, if you didn’t have a good night’s sleep, you could hit snooze on your alarm clock at 7AM to get 10 more minute of sleep (avoid pain of loss of sleep), or risk being late for work and getting fired. Most people choose to wake up and be on time (embracing lack of sleep), and others that choose to sleep late may eventually get fired or passed over for promotion due to being late.
The point is….you know what you need to do to be happy. You need to choose short term suffering and pain to reach your end goal to live a happy life.
If you choose happiness, you must gear up, go into the fucking cookie jar, and face your demons and challenges head on.
Otherwise, you will “numb thyself” and live in suspended animation until one day…you just simply die. And, it will be sad – because the power for you to be happy was in your mind all along.
You have one life. Embrace the suck in order to live a happy life.