Why You’re Wasting 60% Of Your Potential

I talk about the core concepts and lessons inside David Goggins' "Can't Hurt Me" and translate them into how you can apply them as an osteopath.

Podcast Episode Transcript

If you already know David Goggins, you’ll agree that he’s one of the most intense people in modern history.

David is an incredible human being and his book goes to show just how brave, inspiring and aspirational he is. As people, we have a lot that we can learn from David. I know I have and many of the people around me love his work.

I reckon that if you’re discovering David Goggins for the first time, it’s easy to think that he’s a lot, which you’ll find out why in a moment. But I believe that if you take the lessons he shares and apply it to your own life, even just 10% of the time, your life will become drastically better.

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins is his story about resilience, grit and discovering how to take control of your life by learning through one of the hardest ways possible. His message is one of self-discipline and determination. He believes that anyone can achieve their goals if they are willing to push themselves to be better. David says: “You become very very powerful when you overcome yourself” and I couldn’t agree more.

So, here’s where I’m going to talk about David’s upbringing because it’s essential to understanding why he is the person he is today. I’m telling you that this was a hard read and so I feel like I don’t need to detail everything that David and his family experienced, so I’m going to bullet point some of the things. I’m not going to be graphic, I’ll just state the facts. I hope you don’t mistake this for being insensitive, please read the book if you’d like to learn more about what David and his family went through.

  • David and his family were forced to work long hours for his father, Trunnis Goggins, often completing 12 hour shifts through the evening and night, before heading straight to school.
  • David and his family were severely beaten by Trunnis on many occasions.
  • After escaping Trunnis, David and his mother moved to a small town far away, where they experienced living in poverty, racism as well as several physical and mental disorders as a result of Trunnis Goggins.
  • David struggled in school to a point where he could barely read as a teenager.

You get the point: It was beyond horrific.

In David’s late teens he decided that he needed something concrete in his life, and that’s when he found the US Air Force. But he couldn’t pass the swimming tests because he didn’t know how to swim and was later diagnosed with a predisposition to sickle cell anaemia, so he left on medical grounds.

At 23, David was working at a dead-end job and weighed over 130kg, using food as a way to cope with his depression. When one day, he saw a documentary about Navy SEALS training. If you don’t already know, SEALS are widely regarded as the most elite fighting force in the world, and SEAL training is the toughest in the world. As you can imagine, only the best make it through.

David leaped to apply to become a Navy SEAL, but was hit with two problems.

  1. The programme was due to close in 3 months.
  2. The programme required David to lose over 45kg.

For the first time in his life, he was not affected by this setback. He failed going through Hell Week due to health problems twice, one for phenomena and the other for a broken knee cap, but managed to pass the third time. And for both of those failures, he wanted to keep going but the Navy stopped him.

Passing after the third attempt, he became a Navy SEAL. But that was just the start.

David is the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training, including two Hell Weeks, the U.S. Army Ranger School, where he graduated as Enlisted Honour Man, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training.

In 2005, Goggins became an ultramarathon runner. He has completed several ultra-marathons, including the Badwater 135, a 135-mile race through Death Valley, and the Moab 240, a 240-mile race through the Utah desert.

While reading and researching for this episode, I found out that he’s completed over 60 ultra-marathons, triathlons and ultra-triathlons, setting new course records and regularly placing in the top five, broke the Guinness World Record for longest swim, swimming for over 11 hours and covering more than 80 miles in the process and he once held the Guinness World Record for pull-ups completing 4,030 in 17 hours.

Oh, and by the way, in between all of this, in 2019 David found out that he was born with a heart defect, so most of what I’ve just spoken about, he did with a heart that functions at 75%.

Welcome back to Behind The Osteopath. My name is Alan Zaia, I’m an osteopath, Founder of Osteohustle where we plan, build and grow dream careers for osteopaths.

As you know, Behind The Osteopath is based on my belief that you should never open a clinic without fully understanding what it takes and a part of that means I’m covering 10 books I believe every osteopath should read.

Can’t Hurt Me is book 9 in the series. I first read this in 2019 and have of course read it again over the last week.

I chose this book because of what I spoke about in episode 2. Which in summary was, while developing your hands-on skills is without a doubt important, 90% of what makes a great osteopath is all to do with people. And a part of people means you as a person.

What goes on in your mind. How you choose to react to all the ups and downs of your life and career. Why you’re able to go further than others. What goes on in your head will determine whether you live up to your ambition and potential.

To me, this book is about having pride in yourself. If you want something, the buck stops with you and one of the best ways to get started and build momentum is to set the standard for yourself. So why not set it high? Start off by being proud of what you’ve accomplished and then use that feeling to get you through tough times.

Before we dive in, please rate the podcast and subscribe so we can hit our bring on season two target. We need 12 more followers and 5 more reviews for me to continue the podcast. This is book 9, so if you’re not following the podcast or left a 5 star review, please consider doing so if you’d like another season.

Thank you.

With that being said and knowing some of what David Goggins is all about, I’m going to cover to of the standout lessons from the book and talk about them in how they relate to us as osteopaths.

Lesson 1: Developing a calloused mind

David often talks about the concept of a calloused mind throughout the book. It’s a metaphor for developing mental resilience, strength and the ability to overcome challenges.

When Goggins was training to break the pull-up world record, he created so much friction between his hands and the pull-up bar that his palms built thick calluses. So obviously the calluses protected his palm and made the pain more tolerable.

The same principle applies to your mind. When you create mental friction by going against your mind’s constant need for comfort and drive yourself into intense physical and intellectual challenges, you gradually harden over your fear of discomfort and increase your pain tolerance.

So, I’ve pulled 2 quotes he talks about that will help you to develop a calloused mind.

  1. Push your hardest at your lowest: David believes that true growth and personal development occur when you step outside your comfort zone and embrace discomfort. So, you’ve got to go looking for discomfort so you can build mental toughness over time. He says: “The reason it’s important to push hardest when you want to quit the most is because it helps you callous your mind. It’s the same reason why you have to do your best work when you are the least motivated”. So, force yourself to go for a run when it’s raining. Go to the gym after a long day. Force yourself to do that hard task you’ve been meaning to do for ages by going to the library or not leaving clinic until the work is done. It’s important to know that David isn’t telling you to become a masochist, but to instead master the fear of pain. This is what David talks about that when you fear the experience of pain, it grows. But when you accept pain and move towards it, it shrinks. The last point I’ll say on this is that sometimes you can really get out of a rut when you force yourself to do a huge physical task. A few years ago, Osteohustle was really struggling as I was trying to figure out lots of huge questions while trying to deliver an excellent service to my clients. And honestly, I felt like I should just pack it in. So, I decided that in 7 days to do my own half marathon with minimal training. When I woke up, it was crazy humid and thunder-storming. Obviously I didn’t want to do it, but I did and it was amazing because when things got hard, I could only focus on how exhausted I was. And because of the thunderstorm, I was having fun! This meant that that after I’d finished, I felt super clear-minded about what I was going to do. Sometimes you just need to have something that will force you to stop thinking about everything that’s going on in your life and force you to just complete what’s in front of you. Which brings me well onto my next point.
  2. Get in your own head: David says: “The most important conversations you’ll ever have are the ones you’ll have with yourself”. He talks about how most people limit their potential by giving in to their inner voices that tell them to quit. Now while it’s important to know when to quit, go check out episode 10, knowing that you have the mental strength to push yourself when it matters most is a great skill to have as an osteopath. From bouncing back after a string of really difficult patient’s and getting out of a rut to being able to adapt and utilise your resilience to help you things that aren’t in your control, such as dealing with recessions or when a key member of your team decides that they’re going to leave. It’s at these moments that you will have those negative voices in your head telling you that you’re not good enough and that things will inevitably get worse from here – at these moments, you’ll be glad you’ve worked on developing a calloused mind. David says: “Keep getting into the boxing ring, and you’ll realise that you can take one hell of a punch”.

Lesson 2: The 40% rule

There will of course be moments in your life when pain is just unbearable, so much so that a calloused mind isn’t enough. And that’s when David talks about one of the core lessons in the book called the 40% rule. The 40% rule is his belief that most people, even with considerable effort, only tap into 40% of their capabilities – that when you’re mind says you’re done, you’re only at 40% of what you’re actually capable of. He says: “When you think that you are done, you’re only 40% in to what your body’s capable of doing. That’s just the limits that we put on ourselves.

As you can imagine, when we tell ourselves that we’re done, the limit is mental, rather than physical. David says: “You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft, that you will die without ever realising your true potential.” And that’s why you should openly walk into your discomfort zone by reminding yourself of what you’ve achieved in your past. David calls this your cookie jar. By thinking about a previous achievement, you can use that to tap into another push. David says that you can tap into the emotional state you felt during that time and use it to squeeze out more effort, because been through difficulties before, and you’ve survived to go again. So, as what we’ve already touched on, shift the conversation in your head as it allows you to grip that self-doubt and focus on what needs to be done.

At this point, I think we’d all agree that we don’t reflect enough on how much progress we’ve made in our lives and I’d like to share something personal with you. At every opportunity we get at sunset, my finance Emma and I say out loud one thing we’re grateful for today. And I love it so much that I now do this even when Emma isn’t with me. I know it sounds cheesy, but the warm, nice feeling you get when you talk about what you’re grateful for feels amazing and it really does round the day off nicely. Give it a go.

Here’s a great quote: “We all need small sparks, small accomplishments in our lives to fuel the big ones. Think of your small accomplishments as kindling. When you want a bonfire, you don’t start by lighting a big log. You collect a small pile of hay or some dry, dead grass. You light that, and then add small sticks and bigger sticks before you feed your tree stump into the blaze. Because it’s the small sparks, which start small fires, that eventually build enough heat to burn the whole forest down.

I’d like to finish this lesson by pointing out the obvious. David’s journey is incredible. There’s no doubt about it. We are fortunate to live in a time where we’re able to recognise the importance of mental health and have access to amazing resources and professionals. We can all learn and grow from David’s experiences, but it doesn’t mean forcing yourself into a dark place and being tough for the sake of it. If you’re struggling, please know that you don’t have to combat this alone. Think about connecting with your local therapist or check out great platforms like BetterHelp. I’ll leave their link in the description as well as my email address, if you’d like to reach out.

Lesson 3: Pride

At the top of this episode, I spoke about how for me, this book is about having pride in yourself and before you go, I’d like to share something with you. I sometimes see osteopaths who tell me they’ve tried everything they can to make things work, whether that be as an associate or a clinic owner. So there are two things I want to touch on.

  1. Pride in associates: If you’re a clinic owner with associates, try to instil pride in them. Whether that be acknowledging something that’s caught your eye or even something as simple as telling them that you’re proud of how you’ve seen them progress over the last x amount of months. The reverse can be said too. If you’re an associate, you can make your principal’s entire year by telling them how much you appreciate the effort they’re putting in. That can be in relation to the clinic, or your professional development. If you tell them something you’re proud of in them, it will make a huge impact for you both.
  2. Pride in clinic owners: No matter whether you’re renting a room or you have a multi-room practice with loads of associates, if you’re a clinic owner, it’s important to have pride in your practice. I can already hear you telling me that you’re proud of your practice, but here’s what I want you to do. Take that pride and echo it throughout your practice. Take a look around and see what isn’t hitting your standards. It could be that the waiting room chairs or curtains aren’t looking their best. What about the photography on your website? Does that hold up to your pride standards? Would you say you’re proud of the photography? I promise you, because we do this with our coaching clients all the time, do this task and little by little, you’ll seriously elevate the experience for yourself, your practitioners and your patients.


So, if you like the sound of David Goggins, nothing can replace his videos on YouTube. Check out his interviews and speeches, especially because they’re incredibly life-affirming and inspiring.

Remember to rate the podcast and subscribe so we can hit our bring on season two target. We need 12 more followers and 5 more reviews for me to continue the podcast.

I’d love to hear from you too. If you’re on your phone, tap on the episode and scroll down and you’ll find the Q&A section.

Thank you for listening to Behind The Osteopath. It means a whole lot to me that you’re on this journey with me to bring osteopaths together and talk about the hard things so we can move our progression forward.

See ya next week for the final book, book 10! Subscribe so you don’t miss it as soon as it comes out.


Written by Alan Zaia M.Ost

Founder & CEO of Osteohustle. You’ll find Alan coaching osteopaths, travelling in a van or writing our weekly newsletter, The Hustle.

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