Fanfare for the Uncommon Man
Last night at the gym I listened to Joe Rogan’s podcast interview with David Goggins, and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t one of the most inspiring interviews I’ve ever heard. In short, and at the risk of glossing over his many unbelievable accomplishments, it is your typical underdog story amplified to nearly farcical proportions. Difficult childhood, dreams of joining the military, fail, fail, fail more, found himself at nearly 300 pounds at age 24 working as an exterminator, decided to turn everything around (“From then on I was going to do the opposite of everything I did before”), failed some more, but eventually lost the weight and joined the Navy SEALs, doing an unprecedented three Hell Weeks in a single year (failed the first one, accomplished the next two). Then he turned his attention to ultra-marathons (his account of running his first 100-miler is equal parts awe-inspiring and stomach-turning), running (among many others) a 205-mile race in 39 hours. He also holds the world record for most number of pull-ups done in a 24-hour period (4,025). Of course, through all this, he was injured more, and then overcame those injuries (my main takeaway from the podcast was that I need to start doing yoga again, and pronto; stretching is no joke, people!).
What resonated with me the most was that Goggins insisted he wasn’t special, he wasn’t equipped with some magical go-getter gene that made him able to accomplish all this. If anything, it was the complete opposite. He doesn’t enjoy running. He doesn’t enjoy corporeally punishing himself to and beyond the brink of physical possibility. But he realizes that that’s what it takes to overcome those adolescent demons that kept telling him he was worthless, that he’d never amount to anything. So he proves to himself, through astonishing feats of willpower and mental cajones, that he is more than that stuttering abused child, more than that obese exterminator.
Don’t do something because you’re good at it. That’s weak sauce. Seek to make your weaknesses your strengths. Challenge all those doubts in your head telling you to give up, and keep pushing ahead. Embrace failure (this is the easier-said-than-done part for me. Failure has always been the boogeyman under the bed, and I’m self-swaddled under the covers, petrified). ”Be uncommon amongst uncommon people.” Do this every day. Make every day better than the one before. Then stretch.