David Goggins, retired U.S. Navy SEAL, former U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party member and author of the newly published Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind And Defy The Odds, delivered an awe-inspiring keynote presentation on Tuesday at the PPAI Expo 2019’s opening general session on resilience and self-determination that culminated in a standing ovation.

“Never underestimate what you’re capable of in life,” Goggins says. “Motivation comes and goes. I just want to paint a picture of how little you need to succeed.”

Goggins’ Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind And Defy The Odds, courageously discloses his journey from victim to victor. Looking at the man who stands confidently at over six-feet tall with a muscular build and a strong presence, it’s difficult to imagine him in the thick of his challenges. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, Goggins’ early childhood was fraught with uncomfortable circumstances as the son of an abusive father and who was raised by a single mother juggling three jobs. “Paradise was the name of the road, but it was nothing like paradise,” Goggins says of his first childhood home. When he started attending school, Goggins suffered from a learning disability—he stuttered as a result of caustic stress and, after temporarily moving with his mother to a rural town in Indiana, he experienced segregation from not being accepted as an African-American student living in a largely white-populated town.

Whenever life started looking upwards for Goggins, he was hit with even more challenges. When he was in high school, he developed a relationship with his soon-to-be stepfather and later found him murdered on the floor of his mother’s garage. Desperate to triumph past his situation, Goggins joined the military, studying intensely to pass the entry exam, despite only reading at a fourth-grade level. He was accepted, and throughout active duty, faced many health concerns, including injuries caused by rigorous training, fluctuating weight gain and a diagnosis of sickle cell anemia. But despite what he endured, Goggins achieved his goals. To date, he remains the only member of the United States Armed Forces to have completed Navy SEAL training, including two Hell Weeks, as well as having graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School, where he was named an Enlisted Honor Man, and from Air Force Tactical Air Controller training.

Intent not to allow his past to determine his future, Goggins continued to push himself even further by entering a series of ultra-triathlons—races that exceeded 100 miles, nonstop—to benefit the families of fellow military personnel who had been lost during Goggins’ service. He has since raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and in 2010 alone, he ran a 135-mile marathon and raised more than $250,000 for the cause. Goggins has since completed more than 60 ultra-triathlons and is the former Guinness World Record Holder for completing 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours.

“I became a practitioner of life; a practitioner of toughness,” he says.

Goggins’ transparency underscored the message that a little motivation, effort and self-confidence can bring anyone closer to their goals. He explained strategies such as the accountability mirror; a tactic that Goggins used during his transformation. “I started putting Post-it® notes on my mirror,” he says. The notes would serve as constant, ever-growing reminders of his goals and would force him to confront his own image in the mirror while seeing his goals, side-by-side.

Goggins also discussed the concept of the 40-percent rule; his idea that when you feel defeated, you have only used 40 percent of your capabilities and you still have 60 percent left in reserve. It’s a strategy he continues to use when running races, like the Infinitus 88K, a 12-hour race that consisted of 88 kilometers, where Goggins won first place in 2016, and the Music City Ultra 50K in 2016, where Goggins also took first place. Goggins also notes the cookie jar, another image he uses as a reminder of inner strength. “We forget all of the bad things we’ve endured,” he says. “The cookie jar is just that. It’s a reminder of all the things we have endured in our lives.”

Goggins left his audience with a thought-provoking question, prior to opening the floor for a Q&A session. “If you were on your deathbed and you gave someone a book of your life, would it help them for the better?”