Callus the mind by David Goggins


October 08, 2020

I’ve been listening to David Goggins’s book Can’t Hurt me and I want to discuss with you one concept that resonated with me. If you don’t know David Goggins I strongly advise you to look him up and read his book. He is a former Navy SEAL and Ultrarunner. He started as a regular guy just like you and me. And in his book he shares the concepts with you that got him through barbaric training regimes and made him the toughest man alive.

The concept is called: Callus the mind.

Weightlifters have it on their hands after training a while, or martial artists have them on their feet when training barefoot often. What purpose do callus serve? They can handle more resistance, without irritating the actual skin. It serves as a protective layer. So can you callus your mind?

Relation to Stoicism

Which reminds me a lot of the Stoic principle:

“Voluntary Discomfort”

It’s about getting comfortable with uncomfortable situations and preparing yourself for the future. Here are some of the benefits it has:

  • It makes you less material
  • It makes you appreciate what you have
  • It makes doing regular things easy
  • It makes you resilient for bad things you may experience
  • It boosts confidence
  • It boosts willpower

If you are interested in Stoic philosophy I advise you to read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

How to apply David Goggins principle

To begin you have to start doing things you don’t like. If you do that, you will callus your mind.

It is as simple as that. Just start doing things you dislike or have a hard time with. Here are three things you could start with:

  1. Waking up early
  2. Take a cold shower
  3. Skip a meal

These concepts do not require any money, preparation, or any extra time. Yet the benefits it brings you are priceless. Imagine starting the day with a cold shower, that is a big step you overcame. Your confidence level is way up and you will notice that during the rest of your day

What did I pick to callus the mind

I picked two things I don’t like and combined them:

  • Waking up early
  • Running

I set my alarm clock at 06:00 AM, got out, and went running for 45 minutes.

The stages your mind goes through

When you first start this process, expect to get a lot of resistance from your mind. It is still soft and still will do anything its power to let you take the path of least resistance. Read more about why it is important to take the path of most resistance: The path of most resistance.

I recognized several stages and will go through them per stage.

Stage 1: The soft mind

The moment I got outside and my mind starts talking to me and sabotaging me. It was so recognizable from the book. It started like this:

Why are you doing this?

It is early and cold!

Look, your legs are already sore!

Your breathing heavy!

Just stop it!

It was clear to me that this is the stage where you don’t have any callus on the mind yet. It is still soft, weak, and messes with you. Nevertheless, I went on and finished the 45 minutes run.

Stage 2: Getting strong

In the next few days, I repeated this process. Already after a few days, I was noticing improvement. The resistance got less and less. Instead of a storm of questions, I only got asked a few.

Stage 3: The final battle!

But I clearly remember day four. I started my run as usual. It started raining like hell, that also meant no audio in my ears because my Airpods are not waterproof. The funny thing was it also felt like a final stance from my mind, to make me stop it. The questions came in waves again but more intense than ever:

Why are you doing this? You’ll get sick! Your legs hurt, go walk for a bit!

Weirdly enough I only kept on running faster and got more energy by resisting those questions. All of a sudden they were gone. Silence….

Stage 5: Victory

When I finished my round, it turned out I was 5 minutes early. Out of a 45-minute run, that’s more than 10% faster.

The next day my alarm clock goes off. I got out, put on my running gear. I see it raining outside. Without hesitation, I started running, and guess what? Not a single ” Why are you doing this?” type question from my mind. And then I realized it:

I won the battle of resistance!


I believe this is the concept David Goggins talks about. I callused my mind. The resistance is completely gone and it only took a few days.

Imagine the potential impact this concept can have on your life. This is something Stoic philosophers discovered and embraced centuries ago and for this to still be applicable in modern times says to me it is a very powerful concept.

One that David Goggins discovered himself and applies in modern times. If you like this principle I wrote another article about one of his other principles he discusses in his book Can’t Hurt Me which is called: Remove the governor

Better known as the 40% rule. Read more about it here: The 40% rule:.

David Goggins’s book Can’t hurt me is very interesting and I encourage you to listen to it or read it. It will inspire you and change the way you look at the hard things you have to overcome.

It is not your average self-help book, where you get some theory and frameworks. This is a real self-help book. Why? Because he is living the life he is talking about in his book. He is practicing what he is preaching. He started from the bottom, like a regular person and he is honest about that. That’s why this book resonates with so many people. This one goes into my top 3 self-help books of all time for sure!

These are two other concepts straight out of Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins I wrote about:

Michael Awad

I'm fascinated by the power of a strong mindset. I combine this with being a web developer, which keeps me motivated. But how, you may ask? That's what I share on this website. For more information about me personally, check out the about me page: About Me

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