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Book Summary: Never Finished – Unshackle Your Mind and Win the War Within

If you’re feeling satisfied after a period of hard work and taking it easy, reignite your drive with a challenge that will explore your limits.

“Respect is earned every day by waking up early, challenging yourself with new dreams … and embracing the suck like you have nothing and have never done a damn thing in your life.” – David Goggins

In the following summary, you’ll learn how to re-ignite your drive and explore your untapped potential.

Book Summary: Never Finished - Unshackle Your Mind and Win the War Within


Exercise, Fitness, Self Help, Personal Development, Biography, Psychology, Philosophy, Autobiography, Memoir, Sports, Biography Memoir, Motivation, Self-Esteem

Commit to a wake-up challenge

Late one evening, Goggins received an email from a friend who wanted to see if he could run the Leadville Trail 100 race to raise money for his charity. The Leadville Trail 100 is a 100-mile foot race in the Colorado Rockies that starts at 10,000 feet above sea level and includes 15,000 feet of elevation change. Goggins would’ve leapt at the opportunity to run Leadville a few years ago, but now he was full of hesitancy and excuses. He says, “After decades of hard charging, I was stuck in neutral, nowhere close to the mental beast I’d once been.”

But Goggins couldn’t get Leadville out of his head. The challenge haunted him because deep down he knew it was what he needed to awaken his inner savage, get out of neutral, and get back on the path of self-discovery.

  1. Your wake-up challenge need not be physical. It might be intellectual, like obtaining a difficult career certification, participating in a competition, or launching a new product. Regardless of what your wake-up challenge is, it must meet two criteria:
  2. Your wake-up challenge must be a fear pod – A challenge you’re nervous to commit to, but once you do, the seeds of confidence and self-discovery scatter along your path. Taking this path will make you a more self-assured and self-aware person.

Your wake-up challenge must require daily effort – Goggins didn’t take a day off training for Leadville, even on rest days. He visualized sections of the race to prepare his mind and body for the challenge.

Once you identify and commit to a wake-up challenge, get in the habit of performing self-talk audits.

Perform self-talk audits

Not long after ramping up his training for Leadville, Goggins’ body ached, and he kept telling himself he needed a day off. He sat down on his couch, grabbed a voice recorder, and whined into the microphone. He recorded exactly what he was feeling and made a solid case for a much-needed rest day. But when he played it back to himself, he wasn’t convinced. The excuses he heard lacked substance and were just a desperate plea to quit and seek comfort.

When you wake up tired and not eager to get after it, complain about the things you dread doing into a voice recording app on your phone. Then play it back to yourself – odds are you’ll find the voice on the other side is not someone you want to be directing your life.

After you listen to yourself whine about the things you don’t want to do, hit record on your voice recording app again and pretend you are motivating a friend to get through a challenge.

Remember Captain Connolly

As Goggins continued training for Leadville, he routinely thought back to his time at the US Air Force’s Air Assault school. Every student in the Air Assault class was required to do five pull-ups and 10 elevated push-ups when they crossed under the arches on their way to class. One day Goggins passed through the arches at the same time as a classmate named Connolly, a captain in the US Army. When Goggins did his five pull-ups and dropped down to the ground to complete his push-ups, he noticed Captain Connolly was still on the pull-up bar, going far beyond the five standard pull-ups. This was not the only time he saw Captain Connolly do this. Captain Connolly continued going above and beyond on almost every exercise during the 10-day Air Assault school. This was the first time Goggins could remember someone doing more than what was required of them.

In the book, he says, “Connolly made me uncomfortable because he exposed my lack of dedication to giving my best effort each and every day… Captain Connolly did not show up to simply get through the program and graduate so he could collect some wings for his uniform. He came to explore what he was made of and grow.”

As Goggins trained for Leadville, he imagined Captain Connolly watching him every day and posing the question, “Are you just meeting the requirements or are you giving all you can give?”

Forget what others are doing or what others have done before you and look inside to search for what more you can give. Always be exploring what more you can do, and you will move far beyond the standards everyone else is living by and into a realm of limitless mental growth.


“The world needs all of us to evolve into the very best versions of ourselves. That’s a moving target, and it isn’t a one-time task. It is a lifelong quest for more knowledge, more courage, more humility, and more belief. Because when you summon the strength and discipline to live like that, the only thing limiting your horizons is you.” – David Goggins

About the author

David Goggins is a Retired Navy SEAL and the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training, Army Ranger School, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. Goggins has completed more than seventy ultra-distance races, often placing in the top five, and is a former Guinness World Record holder for completing 4,030 pull-ups in seventeen hours. A sought-after public speaker, he’s traveled the world sharing his philosophy on how to master the mind. When he’s not speaking, he works as an Advanced Emergency Technician in a big city Emergency Room and, during the summer, as a wildland firefighter in British Columbia.

Table of Contents



This is not a self-help book. It’s a wake-up call!

Can’t Hurt Me, David Goggins’ smash hit memoir, demonstrated how much untapped ability we all have but was merely an introduction to the power of the mind. In Never Finished, Goggins takes you inside his Mental Lab, where he developed the philosophy, psychology, and strategies that enabled him to learn that what he thought was his limit was only his beginning and that the quest for greatness is unending.

The stories and lessons in this raw, revealing, unflinching memoir offer the reader a blueprint they can use to climb from the bottom of the barrel into a whole new stratosphere that once seemed unattainable. Whether you feel off-course in life, are looking to maximize your potential or drain your soul to break through your so-called glass ceiling, this is the only book you will ever need.


“There are levels to mental strength, and the undisputed gold standard is my friend David Goggins.

The combination of the superhuman spectacle of his accomplishments and the immense gravity of his words serves as one of the most potent motivational drugs that exist on God’s green earth.

He’s a man who came from a humble and troubled childhood and, through the force of sheer will, forged himself into one of the hardest motherf#ckers that’s ever lived. I believe there are people that are put here to elevate our expectations and redefine what’s possible for the rest of us, and David Goggins is the best example of that idea that I’ve ever come across in my life.” – Joe Rogan

“David Goggins is a rare breed of human being. His committment to the philosophy of “achieving your greatness by giving life all you got” through mental toughness and self discipline has been an anchor of inspiration and motivation to millions around the world—myself included. To me, what makes David rare isn’t his elite U.S. Navy SEAL career or his record-breaking endurance events as an athlete. What makes him rare is, from the day we connected, he’s always been a real guy who shoots from the hip and speaks from the heart. And that’s what matters most. Hardest workers in the room.” – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

“I did not pick David up when he fell, but he did pick me up every time I fell.

David has purposefully and meticulously scrutinized every morbidly ugly aspect of our lives and of his life with raw, brutal, and oftentimes painful honesty. By sharing his life experiences, he has given all of us a blueprint on not only how to pick ourselves up but also how to excel in the face of overwhelming adversity and “stay hard” in the process.” – Jacqueline Gardner, David’s mom

Video and Podcast

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This is not a self-help book. Nobody needs another sermon about the ten steps or seven stages or sixteen hours a week that will deliver them from their stalled or fucked-up life. Hit the local bookstore or surf Amazon and you will slip into a bottomless pit of self-help hype. Must feel good to consume because it sure does sell.

Too bad most of it won’t work. Not for real. Not forever. You might see progress here and there, but if you are broken like I used to be or stuck wandering an endless plateau while your true potential wastes away, books alone can’t and won’t fix you.

Self-help is a fancy term for self-improvement, and while we should always strive to be better, improvement is often not enough. There are times in life when we become so dis-connected from ourselves that we must drill down and rewire those cut connections in our hearts, minds, and souls. Because that is the only way to rediscover and reignite belief—that flicker in the darkness with the power to spark your evolution.

Belief is a gritty, potent, primordial force. In the 195os, a scientist named Dr. Curt Richter proved this when he gathered dozens of rats and dropped them into thirty-inch-deep glass cylinders filled with water. The first rat paddled on the surface for a short time, then swam to the bottom, where it looked for an escape hatch. It died within two minutes. Several others followed that same pattern. Some lasted as long as fifteen min-utes, but they all gave up. Richter was surprised because rats are damn good swimmers, yet in his lab, they drowned without much of a fight. So, he tweaked the test.

After he placed the next batch in their jars, Richter watched them, and right before it looked like they were about to give up, he and his techs scooped up the rats, toweled them off, and held them long enough for their heart and respiratory rates to normalize. Long enough for them to register, on a physiological scale, that they had been saved. They did this a few times before Richter placed a group of them back into those evil cylinders again to see how long they would last on their own. This time, the rats didn’t give up. They swam their natural asses off ..for an average of sixty hours without any food or rest. One swam for eighty-one hours.

In his report, Richter suggested that the first round of sub-jects gave up because they were hopeless and that the second batch persisted for so long because they knew it was possible someone would come along and save their sorry asses. The pop-ular analysis these days is that Richter’s interventions flipped a switch in the rat brain, which illuminated the power of hope for us all to see.

I love this experiment, but hope isn’t what got into those rats. How long does hope really last? It may have triggered something initially, but no creature is going to swim for their life for sixty hours straight, without food, powered by hope alone. They needed something a lot stronger to keep them breathing, kicking, and fighting.

When mountaineers tackle the tallest peaks and steepest faces, they are usually tethered to a rope fixed to anchors in the ice or rock so when they slip, they don’t slide off the mountain and tumble to their deaths. They may fall ten or twelve feet, then get up, dust themselves off, and try again. Life is the moun-tain we are all climbing, but hope is not an anchor point. It’s too soft, fluffy, and fleeting. There’s no substance behind hope. It’s not a muscle you can develop, and it’s not rooted down deep. It’s an emotion that comes and goes.

Richter touched something in his rats that was damn near unbreakable. He may not have noticed them adapting to their life-or-death trial, but they had to have figured out a more effi-cient technique to preserve energy. With each passing minute, they became more and more resilient until they started to believe that they would survive. Their confidence didn’t fade as the hours piled up; it actually grew. They weren’t hoping to be saved. They refused to diel The way I see it, belief is what turned ordinary lab rats into marine mammals.

There are two levels to belief. There’s the surface level, which our coaches, teachers, therapists, and parents love to preach. “Believe in yourself;” they all say, as if the thought alone can keep us afloat when the odds are against us in the battle of our lives. But once exhaustion sets in,doubt and insecurity tend to penetrate and dissipate that flimsy brand of belief.

Then there’s the belief born in resilience. It comes from working your way through layers of pain, fatigue, and reason, and ignoring the ever-present temptation to quit until you strike a source of fuel you didn’t even know existed. One that eliminates all doubt, makes you certain of your strength and the fact that eventually, you will prevail, so long as you keep moving forward. That is the level of belief that can defy the expectations of scientists and change everything. It’s not an emotion to be shared or an intellectual concept, and nobody else can give it to you. It must bubble up from within.

When you are lost at sea and no one is coming to save you, there are only two options. You will either swim hard and figure out how to last as long as it takes, or you are bound to drown. I was born with holes in my heart and sickle cell trait, and into a childhood torched by toxic stress and learning disabilities. I had minimal potential, and by the time I turned twenty-four, I knew I was in danger of wasting my life.

Many people get it twisted and think my accomplishments directly correlate to my potential. My accomplishments do not equate to my potential. The little bit I had was buried so deep, most people would never have found it. Not only did I find it, I learned to maximize it.

I knew that there could be so much more to my story than the wreckage I saw around me, and that it was time to decide if I had it in me to go as hard as I could for as long as it took to become a more self-empowered human being. I fought through doubt and insecurity. I wanted to quit every single day, but eventually, belief kicked in. I believed I could evolve, and that same belief has given me the strength and focus to persevere whenever I’ve been challenged for over two decades. More often than not, I’ve chal-lenged myself to see how far I can push it and how many more chapters I can add to my story. I’m still seeking new territory, still curious just how high I might rise from the bottom of the barrel.

A lot of folks feel like they are missing something in their lives—something money can’t buy—and that makes them miserable. They attempt to fill the void with material things they can see, feel, and touch. But that empty feeling won’t go away. It fades some until all gets quiet again. Then that famil-iar gnawing in their gut returns, reminding them that the life they are living is not the fullest expression of who they are or might become.

Unfortunately, most people are not desperate enough to do anything about it. When you’re hogtied in conflicting emotions and other people’s opinions, it’s impossible to tap into belief and easy to drift away from that urge to evolve. You could be itchy as fuck to experience something different, to be some-where different, or to become someone different, but when the slightest resistance arises to challenge your resolve, you moon-walk right back into the unsatisfied person you were before. Still itchy, still jonesing to be someone new, yet still trapped in your unfulfilling status quo. And you are nowhere near alone.

Social media has compounded and spread this virus of dissatisfaction, which is why the world is now populated by damaged people consuming airy gratification, hunting an immediate dopamine fix with no substance at all behind it. Instead of staying focused on growth, millions of minds have been infected with lack, leaving them feeling even lesser than. Their internal dialogue becomes that much more toxic, as this population of weak-ass, entitled victims of life itself multiplies.

It’s funny, we question so many things about the way our lives are going. We wonder what it would be like if we looked different, had more of a head start, or were given a boost at one time or another. Very few people question their own warped minds. Instead, they collect slights, dramas, and problems, hoarding them until they are bloated with stale regret and envy, which form the roadblocks stopping them from becoming their truest, most capable selves.

All over the world, hundreds of millions of people choose to live that way. But there is another way of thinking and another way of being. It helped me regain control of my life. It allowed me to eviscerate all obstacles in my path until my growth factor became damn near limitless. I’m still haunted, but I’ve traded in my demons for evil-ass angels, and now, it’s a good haunt-ing. I’m haunted by my future goals, not my past failures. I’m haunted by what I may still become. I’m haunted by my own continued thirst for evolution.

The work is often as miserable and thankless as it ever was, and although there are techniques and skills I’ve developed that can help along the way, there is no certain number of principles, hours, or steps in this process. It’s about constant effort, learn-ing, and adaptation, which demands unwavering discipline and belief. The kind that looks a lot like desperation. See, I am the lab rat who refused to die! And I’m here to show you how to get to the other side of hell.

Most theories on performance and possibility are hatched in the controlled environment of a sterile laboratory and spread in university lecture halls. But I am not a theorist. I am a practi-tioner. Similar to how the late, great Stephen Hawking explored the dark matter of the universe, I am intensely passionate about exploring the dark matter of the mind—all of our untapped energy, capacity, and power. My philosophy has been tested and proven in my own Mental Lab through all the many fuck-yous, failures, and feats that shaped my life in the real world.

After each chapter, you will find an Evolution. In the military, evolutions are drills, exercises, or practices meant to sharpen (continues…)