#1613 Areté +1° #382: Hero Bars

David Goggins & His Cookie Jar

Hi, this is Brian.

Welcome back to another Areté +1°, a micro-chapter from Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential in which we have 451 of my favorite ideas organized around the seven Objectives that form the basis of our Heroic Coach program.


David Goggins is a fascinating human being.

He’s a former Navy SEAL (and Army Ranger) who, among many other things, used to hold a Guinness World Record for completing 4,030 pull-ups in seventeen hours.

Yes, you read that correctly. 4,030 pull-ups. In seventeen hours.

And here I am reasonably happy with my 4,015 pull-ups a year accumulated eleven reps per day every day. (Hah.)

These days Goggins is setting records as an ultra-endurance athlete. But he wasn’t always Mr. Superhero.

In his great books Can’t Hurt Me and Never Finished, Goggins walks us through his transformation from being a 297-pound exterminator to a “Who IS this guy?!” special forces operator/elite athlete.

His story is incredibly inspiring.

Goggins tells us that we’re only using 40% of our potential and, in his page-turning autobiographical books, he shares a bunch of practices we can use to activate our Heroic potential.

One of my favorites? Creating a “Cookie Jar” filled with memories of you at your absolute best.

Here’s the short story… David’s childhood was brutal and filled with abuse and terror. One of his small pleasures was the fact that his mom always had a cookie jar filled with his favorite cookies. He’d pick one out, look at it lovingly, and then savor the goodness.

Fast-forward to him in the middle of trying to set the Guinness World Record for pull-ups (which he failed at twice before succeeding, btw) or in the middle of one of his insanely-long ultraendurance events.

He’s in a CRAZY amount of pain. What does he do?

He reaches into his mind’s virtual Cookie Jar. He reminds himself of all the times he’s endured pain, didn’t give up, and achieved something A W E S O M E.

As he puts it: “That’s one reason I invented the Cookie Jar. We must create a system that constantly reminds us who we are when we are at our best, because life is not going to pick us up when we fall. There will be forks in the road, knives in your back, mountains to climb, and we are only capable of living up to the image we create for ourselves.”

Skipping the discussion on the metabolic consequences of consuming too much sugar and flour in highly-processed cookies (as we discuss in Optimal Weight/Metabolism 101), let’s call our “cookies” “HERO BARS.”

And… Let’s make some HERO BARS right now.

Think of ONE moment in your life in which you had the courage to act in the presence of fear. You showed up as your absolute best when you needed to the most.

Got it? Awesome.

That’s a HERO BAR.

Create a box of them.

Never forget who you are at your best. Have that box of Hero Bars ready at hand as you battle the dragons on your Heroic quest.

P.S. Now that we’ve explored some ideas on how to play the ultimate game well by forging antifragile confidence, optimizing our Big 3, making today a great day while mastering ourselves and dominating our fundamentals, it’s time to chat about how to activate our superpower. That’s our next and final objective.

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