THIS past week, I have been introduced to the weird and wonderful world of Mr David Goggins, the ex-Navy SEAL, former United States Air Force Tactical Air Control member and now ultramarathon runner, ultra- distance cyclist, triathlete, motivational speaker and author.
His self-help memoir, ‘Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds’, is the current book I have lifted from the shelf this lockdown. Regular readers will appreciate I am no fan of the self-help genre and have absolutely no time for the self-professed motivational speakers. If the performance coach’s name is anything other than Ms Wendy Rhoades from Axe Cap – I’m not interested.
Goggins, in his book, laments that humans only tap into 40 percent of our capabilities. His constant narrative is to ‘stay hard’ and continue to push your mind and body beyond breaking point. Reading his book, it is sometimes difficult not to laugh at this cartoon character of a man who, despite his constant judging of others and explanations as to where everyone else is going wrong in their lives, rarely mentions the fact that he decided not to redo his US Air Force Pararescue training after being advised by his commander that after a week out in hospital, he had to start again. Mr ‘Stay Hard’ and ‘Never Quit’, decided the easier option was to abandon the training completely, rather than go back to the start.
As is typical of the world of motivational speakers and life coaches, they are very keen to tell everyone else where they are going wrong with their lives, while never casting that critical eye towards themselves.
Even within Ireland, social media has spawned a number of these self-help gurus, performance and life coaches, who, while in their mid-30s and still living at home with their parents, appear on social media feeds telling their followers how they can have it all and how 4.30am runs are the key to a new life beyond their wildest dreams.
I can see it now: “If you follow these three simple steps, you too can hire a private jet for five minutes so that you can get your photo taken beside a bag topped with £20 notes.” The world is truly a strange place.
Forgetting about the self-help gurus and the motivational speakers, this is a very tough time for all normal people who are just missing their friends and family, who are missing social interaction.
People don’t want to drive a new Lamborghini every day; they simply want to give their parents a hug, kick a ball with their nephew and have a pint with a friend.
I admit I am missing the camaraderie that comes with playing team sports. If I had the choice of never winning another medal again but I got to play for years to come, I would take it.
I miss the GAA field, having the craic with my friends on the team, kicking points (and wides), swinging hurls and taking a few pints with the boys on a Sunday after the game.
I miss the runs, the hard training sessions, the buzz come championship time, the feeling of giving your best with your friends at your side, win, lose or draw.
The GAA keeps me connected to the community I grew up in. This never-ending lockdown and lack of GAA has reinforced how much the club and my home village means to me.
I don’t need a motivational or life coach to tell me that I miss my friends. I don’t need a self-help guru to tell me that the craic in the changing rooms after a big win is priceless.
What I have learned this lockdown, having faced my own challenges and changes, is that true happiness cannot be measured by the size of the house you live in or the car you drive. True happiness comes from those who you surround yourself with: your friends, your family, seeing children grow and being there to face the good and bad times together.
David Goggins may want to ‘stay hard’ and may want to dictate to you about where your life is going wrong and what you need to do to fix it, but if this pandemic has taught me anything it is that our efforts would be better spent being a good brother, sister, mother, father and friend, as being there for others is more important than any inflated egos or riches of this world. In the months ahead, let’s all make an effort to stay selfless.