The 40% Rule Is What Navy SEALS Use To Strengthen Mental Toughness


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Tiffany Lashai Curtis25
May 27, 2024 at 6:16PM UTC
As women, it is far too common to get in the habit of trying to do it all. And although we have told ourselves that we can tackle anything and everything, sometimes there are situations where it feels easier to quit than to persevere.
This is when mental toughness comes in handy, no matter the obstacle; be it an 8-hour workday or a roadblock to achieving a long-term goal. Achieving mental toughness, willpower, or endurance is no easy feat. So how can you strengthen your mental toughness? It starts with pushing yourself harder, by realizing that you are always more capable than you think.

Our thought patterns don't always line up with our realities. 

When you are in the middle of a task that seems too hard to finish, tell yourself that you can finish. And when your life feels like a succession of "no's," mental toughness will allow you to find a way to say "yes" to yourself. Jesse Itzler learned this lesson in perseverance when he invited Navy SEAL David Goggins to live with his family for a month, to teach him the secret to achieving mental and physical fitness.
Itzler, who is the co-founder of Marquis Jet, a co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks and husband to Spanx creator Sarah Blakely, told the story of how he met Hoggins in a 2015 Big Think video.
He recounts the 100-mile run in San Diego that he ran, during which time he met the 260-pound "SEAL" and said that "during the race, I kept an eye on him and around mile 70 — he weighed probably 260 pounds, which is quite large for an ultra runner — he had broken all the small bones in both of his feet and had kidney damage and he finished the race.”
Naturally, Itzler's wealth and platform allowed him to reach out to Goggins and hire him to help shake up what he felt was a monotonous life.

During the month that Goggins lived with Itzler and his family, he taught him the 40 percent rule.

“He would say that when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done. And he had a motto: If it doesn’t suck we don’t do it. And that was his way of forcing us to get uncomfortable to figure out what our baseline was and what our comfort level was and just turning it upside-down," said Itzler.
Itzler trained his mind to follow the 40 percent rule from Goggin's first day with him, in which he completed 100 pull-ups past the point of his mental and physical exhaustion, as Goggins urged him to push himself beyond what he thought he could do.
Goggins suffered from limited endurance because of an atrial septum defect, while being a record-holder athlete and a Navy SEAL. Yet, he trained his mind and other people to push themselves to give more than just 40 percent. And so can you.
Tiffany Curtis is a Philly-based freelance writer, podcaster, and sex positivist whose work focuses on empowerment for women of color, race and culture, and sex positivity. She has written for sites like BlavityRefinery29, and Hello Giggles.

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