Recently I came across Simon Parson’s picture messages on taking courage from your cookie jar as given in these pics and as a mindset technique propagated by David Goggins.
This got me thinking and I did some research on David Goggins. And what I found was tremendously inspiring. David Goggins was an ex US Navy Seal. In 2005, several of his fellow soldier friends died in Afghanistan in a helicopter crash during Operation Red Wings. Goggins was extremely heartbroken by the incident. He set up a non-profit fund, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, to provide scholarships to the children of the military personnel killed in the line of duty & wanted to raise money for the same.
To raise these funds Goggins decided to participate in Blackwater 135 Ultramarathon. However it wasn’t as easy as it appeared to be. One of the precondition was to run a series of tests which began with a 100-mile race first, which of course Goggins had never done before. Why that, Goggins hadn’t even run a few miles straight in the recent times. While he was, as an ex US Navy Seal, no doubt very fit and agile, plus he had earlier been exposed to the rigours of disciplined regimen, yet this was even beyond the wild training regimens of the SEALS.
The race was about to begin in three days and Goggins had no time to prepare. Needless to say, most of us would have not dared do this feat.. But this was Goggins… his training in the toughest SEALS hadn’t taught him to give up.
Milestone 0: When the race began, Goggins did fantastic for the first few miles. His disciplined training background helped him get through the first few miles smoothly.
Milestone 25: When he reached 25 miles, humongous doubts began creeping in his mind on his ability to finish the remainder 3/4th of the task on legs . His breath was stuck in his throat and he felt that he would not be able to go any further. Goggins began to question his fitness limits. “I feel so tired already, can I run 75 more miles, which is thrice of what I have run so far?”, he thought. And here he still had about three such marathons to go after this. What kept him going was the hope of helping the children of his deceased friends. That was the only thought that egged him to stretch himself at this stage.
Milestone 50: With that thought he dragged himself the next twenty five miles. Now he was halfway through. When he reached 50 miles with such mind boggling difficulty his body began to pain crazily. He was gasping for even a small whiff of breath and his body was on the verge of giving up. Every sinew of his body was bruised and his mind was locking up the ability to pull through. He mustered all the reserve strength that was rapidly draining away from him and dragged himself further.
Milestone 70: As he scraped through another enervating 20 miles, his willpower had broken down. He did not have the energy left to take even one step forward. With no other choice, Goggins sat down. While he was sitting He noticed urine, mixed with blood and diarrhea dripping from his legs. At that point, he felt he was experiencing the worst point of his life. His mind started asking more tougher questions like, “Why am I doing this to myself? Why should I keep going?”
It was here at this moment, when his mind and body had given up, he remembered that this wasn’t the first time he had attempted an impossible task. There were innumerable moments of impossibilities that he had encountered in life, where he had felt that he could not get any further. That he could not succeed… Why, He had even successfully completed the US Navy Seals almost impossible gruelling training where the chances of getting through are extremely slim. The US Navy recruits approximately 40,000 people each year. Due to the popularity of the Navy SEALs, almost half of all recruits express an interest in becoming a SEAL, but most do not meet the qualifications. According to Military.com, only about 6 percent of SEAL applicants meet the requirements. Just this thought fired some additional booster energy within his fatigued body.
Goggins managed to stand up. His mind now dug into old memories to help him recall past triumphs. Recharged with the motivation of his previous victories, he mustered the energy to put one step forward, then another, followed by a few more. His feet had swollen badly & had blisters all over. His soul had worn out. Yet, his earlier achievements in life generated enough drive to keep him going. Goggins completed the race in 19 hours and 6 minutes. Overcoming all the obstacles and proving every negative emotion that he or his detractors had… wrong… he had achieved the impossible. :Milestone 100
After this Ultramarathon, he ran many other such races. He ran the Badwater 135 Marathon later in 2007 and finished 3rd. He finished second in a three day, 320-mile cycling race without having ever ridden a bicycle competitively before. He also held the world record for the highest pull ups completed in 24 hours by hitting 4030 of them in 17 hours. In two years, he completed 14 ultra-endurance races finishing nine times in the top five.
Goggins accomplished many other such unbelievable feats based on what he calls as the cookie jar concept for motivation.
“Everyone asks me, were you thinking about the children of your friends who had been killed at that time? I’m not gonna lie; I wasn’t. This became a personal thing, this became me against this race; me against the kids that called me n***** – offensive contemptuous terms based on my skin color; me against me. It just became something I took so violently personal.”
The advise here isn’t on pushing yourself to the limits to where your body starts shutting down, especially with no training… so don’t just favour me by reading this and jumping to run a 100 mile marathon immediately. What I am rather talking about is the true power of the cookie jar that David Goggin speaks about … which powered him to achieve humanly impossible tasks…
We all have battled various battles in our lives. We all have fought innumerable small impossibilities in our lives… be it having come up through worst circumstances, be it getting through something like maths that seemed impossible to many of us, be it achieving the percentages in our matriculation that seemed like an uphill mountain, be it getting through job interviews, be it fighting procrastination on a daily basis in pursuit of your real passion… we all have innumerable moments of triumphs up our kitty… life is one long chain of struggle… it’s a battle that’s fought everyday… when we were kids, we had different insurmountable tasks that we eventually got through, as teenagers, we had so many impossibilities that we had our minds chained with, which we eventually shattered, as adults and professionals, we wage a war with so many multiple things on-an hourly basis, right from getting up daily to motivating ourself to wade through a sea of traffic and reaching our workplaces… through buses, cars, taxis, trains, walk, cycling… snaking our way into the rat race as many many of us are in such employments that we never really aspired for… then we put up with so many uncertainties across the day, managing stakeholders, partners, teammates, bosses, clients, etc etc… eventually reaching the glorious fiscal end every year and wishing for that elusive rankings and rewards… yeah… life is sure one helluva series of battles…
Through all these we have our moments of triumphs and glories.. our moments of success.. where we have battled against tough tasks and won the same…
And that’s what can build your cookie jar. David says “the cookie jar is a place in my mind where I put all things bad and good that shaped me. Some people try to forget the bad in their life. I use my bad for strength when needed, great lessons learned. In that cookie jar, I pull out whatever I need for the task at hand. Remembering what you’ve been through and how that has strengthened your mindset can lift you out of a negative brain loop and help you bypass those weak, one-second impulses to give in.”
We all are ultimately the outcome of what our mind decides. If our mind says that we can’t .. then we can’t for sure… If our mind says we can… then we can for sure… all the greatest battles won were won in the mind first… all the greatest successes achieved were achieved first in the achiever’s mind… only then it fructified into reality.
Thus the need of the hour is to condition your mind with your own small success stories. You need to remind your mind that it was you who has put up with similar or more difficulties before and emerged victorious. For this you first need to build your cookie jar: Sit down and ruminate on your life… jot down 5-10 such remarkable achievements that you achieved… where you had initially thought that you would fail. We all have many such examples… it could be getting the top score in your most difficult subject, or marrying the love of your life, or getting your first car, or getting that promotion from the group of other equally competent colleagues… or jogging daily for an hour… or maybe as simple as getting up in the morning… or successfully going on a trekking expedition… or doing say those 40-50 crunches in your exercise routine.. or being able to swim after a lot of struggle… or maybe ( as many of my rural friends will agree) being able to give a public speech in fluent english… there can be dozens and dozens of such cookies in your life…
Once you have it ready, keep it in your mental bank and when the time comes when you are pitted against a seemingly tough difficult task… pull out an appropriate success cookie from your jar and bite it… remind yourself that it is the same YOU who has earlier battled against a situation that your mind refused to support you with and yet you succeeded in achieving the task… and like David Goggins… You will also undoubtedly be able to achieve that which many might call as impossible or damn difficult. The need just then is to get to know your badass side…
Will you discover the badass in you?
Will you build your cookie jar my friend?