Let Your Flaws Light a Fire

Noelle Ihli

Author David Goggins Shares How Imperfections Can Fuel
Growth and Success

In his bestselling book Can’t Hurt Me, David Goggins challenges readers to question conventional wisdom about success and self-mastery.

Conventional wisdom teaches that strengths build success—and that weaknesses and mistakes hinder it. But Goggins insists that your flaws can push you to greatness.

"Only when you identify and accept your weaknesses,” writes Goggins, “will you finally stop running from your past. Then those incidents can be used more efficiently as fuel to become better and grow stronger."

Wondering how your weaknesses could fuel your success? Read on!

Identify Your Weaknesses

Before you can harness the power of your weaknesses, you must identify them. Unfortunately, this process isn’t easy or quick and can be painful. But it’s well worth the work.

Goggins says, “Most of us sweep our failures and evil secrets under the rug, but when we run into problems, that rug gets lifted up and our darkness re-emerges, floods our soul, and influences the decisions which determine our character.”

Take a proactive look under the proverbial rug by setting aside some time to make a list.  Goggins recommends putting each weakness on a sticky note to create an “accountability mirror” you’ll look at daily. After you identify and reflect on your weaknesses, you can start to use them as tools for growth.  

Accept Your Weaknesses 

The purpose of identifying your imperfections isn’t to remind yourself of how much you’ve messed up. Instead, it’s to help you make peace with those flaws and mistakes. 

Goggins says, “Anyone who is of sound mind and body can sit down and think of twenty things in their life that could have gone differently… It’s up to you to go back through your past and make peace with yourself by facing those incidents and all of your negative influences.”

First, look your flaws square in the eye by reviewing your list or studying your accountability mirror. Then, as you acknowledge each item, remind yourself that two things are true: You are both flawed and capable of success. 

It takes courage and humility to stop running from your past and own your imperfections. These struggles and challenges are part of your story. By accepting them, you remove their power to hold you back. 

Use Your Flaws as Fuel

Goggins says, “Some people say triple down on your strengths. Yeah, that's good for some things. But if you want to get hard and get true mental toughness, you must triple down on your weaknesses.”

Once you’ve identified and accepted shortfalls in knowledge or character, it’s time to triple down on those weak areas and improve them. For example:


  • If you tend to give up on projects when you’re steps from the finish line, find someone you think of as a “finisher” and ask if they’ll mentor you. 
  • Does your lack of organization consistently create chaos during tax season? Block off time on your calendar at the end of every month to tend to your records.
  • If high-stress situations cause you to freeze, download a mindfulness app and commit to a short meditation session every day.

Think of your weaknesses as stepping stones that got you where you are today and will lead you to a brighter future. 

Which of Goggins’s quotes about flaws fueling success resonated the most with you? Share it with us on Twitter using #CantHurtMe

About the author

Noelle is a content creator, author, and editor. She lives in Idaho with her husband, two sons, and two cats. When she's not writing, she's either reading a good book or scaring herself with true-crime documentaries.

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