The Pomp Letter
The Pomp Letter
Never Finished (This Will Improve Your Life)

Never Finished (This Will Improve Your Life)

Pomp's notes on Never Finished by David Goggins

To investors,

I have been reading one book per week this year. This past week’s book was Never Finished by David Goggins. Highly recommend reading it. If you are interested in the individual highlights that I made in the physical book, you can read those here. Hope you enjoy these notes every Monday morning.

Book’s main argument:

David Goggins is a former Navy SEAL who has a personal goal to become the hardest motherf***er in the world. That may seem like an ambitious, nearly unattainable, goal, but Goggins is a special human being. From 200 mile runs to setting the pull up world record, Goggins is a man on a mission. This book stitches together his personal experience and various insights, along with an entertaining style, that gives you something to apply to your daily life. The book is part motivation, part self-reflection, and part reality check.

There is graphic language used throughout so consider this fair warning.

5 Big Ideas:

💡 Idea #1 — Your mind is a powerful force. You may have heard that you need to believe in yourself, but Goggins believes that you need to truly do the work to be able to put that idea to work. He writes:

Belief is a gritty, potent, primordial force.

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.

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. 

Goggins is quick to call out that his potential was only obvious after years of hard work. That is an idea that successful people usually realize later in life, but those who are merely dreaming fail to understand.

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. 

💡 Idea #2 — Born losers is a phrase that Goggins uses to highlight how many people are born with the deck stacked against them. You can’t change your starting point, but you have the power to change your direction and trajectory. He writes:

Sure, I’m a winner now, but I was born a loser.

I was a shell of a man at that point, with no self-esteem or self-respect. I was still haunted by the same old demons that had tailed me from birth, and the harsh reality was that I lacked everything I needed to become the man I wanted to be. 

When you’re born a loser, your goal is to survive, not thrive. 

Goggins likes to think of himself as a cockroach — an animal that won’t give up and is hard to kill. He uses that mentality to constantly seek improvement, regardless of his circumstances.

Born losers are the ultimate cockroaches. We do what we have to, and that attitude often enables some pretty severe character defects.

Roger that. It ain’t your fucking fault that you were dealt a bad hand, but…it is your responsibility. How long will you allow your past to hold you back before you finally take control of your future?

💡 Idea #3 — You can achieve your goals once you become comfortable knowing that it is okay to be different, or it is the right move to change what you’re doing on a daily basis. Many of your friends or family will try to hold you back — don’t let them. Goggins writes:

You cannot be afraid to disappoint people. You have to live the life you want to live. Sometimes, that means being the motherfucker who can put a middle finger up to everyone in the room and be totally comfortable with that.

Remember that no one will care about your problems as much as you.

Your problems and your past aren’t on anybody else’s agenda. Not really. You may have a few people in your inner circle who care about what you’re going through, but for the most part, no one gives a shit because they’re dealing with their own issues and focused on their own lives.

Know who is in your foxhole and be sure that you want them there. They can be a great help…or cause incredible pain. Goggins writes:

In military speak, the foxhole is a fighting position. In life, it’s your inner circle. These are the people you surround yourself with. They know your history and are aware of your future goals and past limitations. But because it’s a fighting position, a foxhole can just as easily become your grave. Therefore, it is crucial that you be careful about who you invite in. Whether you are at war, competing in a game, or striving in life, you never want someone in your foxhole who lacks faith or will try to steer you away from your full potential by giving you permission to pack it in or wave the white flag when shit looks bleak. 

I learned that when you change, not everyone in your life will be on board.

💡 Idea #4 — David Goggins thinks of himself as a savage and uses the term to bestow praise on people he thinks deserve it. This can be counter-intuitive to people, so it is important to realize that becoming a savage is a badge of honor in Goggins’ circle. He explains:

Some people might be put off by the term, but to me, calling someone a “savage” is the highest compliment. A savage is an individual who defies odds, who has a will that cannot be tamed, and who, when knocked down, will always get back up!

You can become a savage by intentionally changing your mindset. Use a Mental Lab to make the changes before your physical actions start to express the change. The use of alter-ego, whether in public or private, can be a helpful framework to turn the savage on or off.

Through all my countless trials, tumbles, and failures, I cultivated an alter-ego—a savage who refused to quit under almost any circumstance. 

Recreate yourself in your own Mental Lab.

In my mind, David Goggins wasn’t the savage motherfucker who accomplished all the hard shit. It was Goggins who did that.

Goggins was powered by the dark side of my soul that refused to be denied, and he had one goal: to become the hardest motherfucker to ever live!

I was the unconditional competitor, a full-time savage.

When you are a full-time savage, it’s a lifestyle.

💡 Idea #5 — There is an intensity that is needed to be great at something. This level of obsession will make many people uncomfortable and it is unnecessary for most things…unless you want to be great at what you do. Then, and usually only then, the intensity is necessary. Goggins writes:

We all have that ferocity—that dog—inside us. 

If you want to maximize minimal potential and become great in any field, you must embrace your savage side and become imbalanced, at least for a period of time.

There are no days off, and there is no downtime when you are obsessed with being great. That is what it takes to be the baddest motherfucker ever at what you do.

The true savage doesn’t let praise distract them from their goal. They also understand that society must have savages focused on being great at their craft, but we also need many other roles that do not require the savage’s focus, intensity, or obsession.

But praise—whether it comes from your supervisors, your family, or anyone else—has a downside. It can soothe the inner savage and keep you from feeling the need to grind.

The world needs doctors, lawyers, and teachers, but we also need savages to prove that we are all capable of so much more.

If you choose the savage life, you will become an inspiration to others. Goggins writes:

There has got to be someone willing to be an outlier. A savage who sees those walls and barriers that are constantly trying to close us off and divide us up and then breaks them down again by showing everyone what is possible. There’s got to be someone who demonstrates greatness and makes everyone around them think differently.

The smooth road to success is of no use to savages like me. That may sound ideal, but it won’t test us. It doesn’t demand belief, so it will never make us great.

Memorable quotes:

  1. Belief is a gritty, potent, primordial force.

  2. Sure, I’m a winner now, but I was born a loser.

  3. Denial is self-protecting, but it’s also self-limiting.

  4. My root problems were not and never had been physical. They were all mental.

  5. You don’t need six-pack abs when your mind is steel-plated.

  6. When you are a full-time savage, it’s a lifestyle.

  7. Mental toughness and resilience fade if they aren’t used consistently.

  8. Many dreams die while suffering.

  9. Never quit when your pain and insecurity are at their peak.

  10. We all have that ferocity—that dog—inside us.

  11. Destruction always breeds creation.

  12. Life is not G-rated. We must prepare kids for the world as it is.

  13. Discipline is the great equalizer.

  14. Small minds and weak people kill big dreams.

  15. The only thing more infectious than a good attitude is a bad one.

  16. Self-leaders rarely rest.

  17. There are no prerequisites to becoming great.

  18. The valiant motherfucker is the person who faces long odds yet continues to try.

Pomp’s Takeaways:

David Goggins is a special individual. If you have ever heard him on a podcast, read his first book, or seen social media clips of him running, you already know this. For those that have never encountered Goggins, you’ll just have to trust me that he is the real deal.

My first big takeaway from the book was how open and honest it was. Goggins talks at length about his horrible childhood, including breaking down the pros and cons of his mother, father, grandparents, and siblings. This level of authenticity can only come from someone who is very comfortable being themselves. It also serves as a good reminder that your problems could always be worse.

My second big takeaway was how frequently Goggins would subject himself to physical pain in the form of ultra-marathons, long bike rides, or other ridiculous tasks, but with an express purpose of hardening his mind. Our society has become complacent with a lack of mental toughness. It is hard to train that level of resilience and fortitude. Physical pain through competition is one time-tested path that continues to work today.

My third big takeaway was the idea of David Goggins’ alter-ego. He highlights the difference between David Goggins and Goggins. Similarly, Kobe Bryant used to talk about his alter-ego Black Mamba. This mental trick can help someone transform their actions by making them comfortable with attempting things that may otherwise scare them, or seem insane.

My fourth big takeaway was “they don’t make many of them like Goggins anymore.” I consider myself a fairly tough guy who has been through different difficulties in life. But I, like so many of you, find comfort in the easy life from time-to-time. A simple comparison from my life would be 21-year-old me deployed in Iraq vs 34-year-old me who spends most his time behind a computer. You don’t have to seek out the most difficult life every day, all day long, but this book is a great reminder that we could all benefit from doing hard things every once in awhile.

My final takeaway is that David Goggins is not attempting the impossible and documenting it on social media because it makes him feel good or he needs the likes. Instead, he is using the documentation process to inspire others to become the best versions of themselves. Goggins ends the book with the following:

I never needed to be the hardest motherfucker in the world. That became a goal because I knew it would bring out my best self. Which is what this fucked-up world needs from 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.

That is a powerful view of the world. We can each improve our lives. We can do extraordinary things. Sometimes it starts with us simply believing it is possible. David Goggins changed his life — what would it take you to change yours?

As I mentioned, this past week’s book was Never Finished by David Goggins. Highly recommend reading it. If you are interested in the individual highlights that I made in the physical book, you can read those here. Hope you enjoy these notes every Monday. Feel free to leave a comment - I read all of them.


Note: Make sure you are subscribed to receive these personal notes each Monday morning.

Announcement: I am hosting a conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center on March 4, 2023. Anyone can attend for free. The goal is to bring together people from different walks of life to debate important ideas that impact our society on a daily basis. The speakers are many of the most popular guests from the podcast over the last few years, along with a few surprises. If you’re interested in attending, you can read about the event details here:


You are receiving The Pomp Letter because you either signed up or you attended one of the events that I spoke at. Feel free to unsubscribe if you aren’t finding this valuable. Nothing in this email is intended to serve as financial advice. Do your own research.

The Pomp Letter
The Pomp Letter
Pomp's daily newsletter analyzing the business, finance, and technology industries. Join 255,000 subscribers by signing up below.