David is a retired Navy SEAL, runs ultramarathons, and previously had the world record for pull-ups in a 24-hour period (4000+). Working out has been a huge part of his success in life.
But he says he doesn’t do it for the physical benefits (At 17:45):
Rogan: That’s such an important point, when you talk about the working out. A lot of people, when they think about working out, they think of it as being a physical thing.
Goggins: Right. No, no. I did it for mental. People always say, “My god.” No, don’t, don’t look at it like—I didn’t care about losing weight, I didn’t care about being the fastest person. I wasn’t making the Olympics. I wasn’t going to pros. I could barely read and write when I was a junior in high school. I wasn’t going anywhere. I saw working out as a way to build callouses on my mind. I had to callous over the victim’s mentality.
I watch these movies. I talked about Rocky last time I was on here. I always equated training to mental toughening. It always looked brutal. People waking up early and doing all these things. It looked horrible. I was like, “Wow, I’ve got to start doing that.” Not to get better, bigger, and stronger. But that is what’s going to build me. That looks uncomfortable. That looks brutal. Getting up early, I don’t want to do that. So I made this long list of things I don’t want to do. Through that I found myself.
(There should be a better term for working out to separate what he does from the 20-minute thing I’ll do later today and pat myself on the back for.)
I like how James Clear puts it (check out my notes on his book “Atomic Habits” here) when he describes casting a vote for yourself. Each time you do the good habit you’re trying to build, you’re casting a vote for yourself. You’re one step closer to being the person you want to become.
Even if you’ve finally accepted you won’t look like an action figure, there are so many other benefits to exercise. I’ll often consider the benefits it has for energy and for focus. What Goggins reminded me of is that you can build mental toughness.
The next time you hit your limit, go on just a little bit further. Callous your mind.