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Does This Navy SEAL’s 40% Rule Motivate You?

January 17, 2016

“If it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it.” –David Goggins, Retired Navy SEAL

The owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Jesse Itzler, wrote Living with a Seal which documents the grueling-but-worthwhile experience of living a month with David Goggins, a super-tough personal trainer and retired Navy SEAL. Itzler first heard of Goggins during a 100-mile run in which both men were participating; however, Itzler ran it as a relay with a team of six runners whereas Goggins ran the whole race solo and finished despite breaking all the small bones in his feet and suffering from kidney failure. While many people may have been repelled by such extreme commitment to a race, Itzler was awed by the unsurpassed determination Goggins demonstrated. So he invited Goggins to live with him for one month hoping that some of this grit would rub off on him. Goggins agreed to do it under one condition: that Itzler do what he said no matter what.

Itzler felt that he was stuck in a routine. “Routines are great, but they can also be a rut. And I found that I just wasn’t getting better… And I just wanted to get off autopilot. And I thought that he would be a great way to get in good shape, but also to just mix up my routine and get better.” 

Among the many lessons Itzler learned from Goggins is the 40-percent Rule–that is, when you think you’ve hit a wall and are convinced you’ve reached your limit, that’s when you’re actually only 40 percent done. As far as the walls that Goggins himself encounters, he says, “Every wall pretty much allowed me to have doors. I’m looking for a door to get through it, and go to the next limit.” And each day he wakes up and looks in the “accountability mirror,” and asks himself what he’s doing to improve himself. “Everyone’s looking for mental toughness…The only way you gain mental toughness is to do things you’re not happy doing. If you continue doing things that you’re satisfied, and they make you happy, you’re not getting stronger; you’re staying where you’re at. Either you’re getting better or you’re getting worse–you’re not staying the same,” he asserts. Some of his other quotes include: “It doesn’t have to be fun, it has to be effective;” and “I like to sit back and enjoy the pain. I earned it.”

Living with a SEAL has received positive reviews and has been described as a quick, fun, inspirational read.

David Goggin’s approach to life is reminiscent of Will Smith’s gritty philosophy:

  • “And where I excel is ridiculous, sickening, work ethic. You know, while the other guy’s sleeping? I’m working.”
  • “I’ve always considered myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous, insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation.”
  • “If you’re not willing to work hard, let someone else do it. I’d rather be with someone who does a horrible job, but gives 110 percent than with someone who does a good job and gives 60 percent.”

What do you think of the 40-percent Rule? Are you just giving it forty percent and calling it a day? Or are you maximizing your efforts and fighting through the pain of arduous challenges?