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  • Writer's pictureZach Lucas

Narrative and Nurture

Our Narrative is a powerful force. We are more than creatures simply on autopilot for survival. People have the potential to thrive--not just survive. Our Nature and Nurture play a role in our life development, but our destiny is not determined by them.

Read my article on Nature, Nurture & Narrative for an overview The Three N's. In this article we will see how our Narrative can guide us regardless of our past and present Nurturing experiences.

The "Three N's" Overview:

Nurture: Our upbringing; Nature: Our genetics; Narrative: Our choices.


David Goggins was born to an African American family in the mid-1970's. His father was well known and admired within their community, but at home he was terribly abusive to his wife and children. David witnessed and experienced abuse at many levels, leaving him feeling oppressed and isolated. This was "strike one" against David's nurturing environment--a dysfunctional family.

At the age of 8 David's mom escaped her husband's abuse by moving David and his brother to a community in Indiana. It was there David faced constant racism by his peers. Just twenty minutes from his home was the Ku Klux Klan headquarters, and the KKK's main leader had a student in his grade who constantly threatened him. This was "strike two" against David's nurturing environment--racism.

David's mom worked many jobs, so she was mostly absent from the home. After receiving death threats from some classmates David went to his high school principal, but was offered minimal help. This was "strike three" against David's nurturing environment--no adult advocacy.

Narrative Over Nurture

David, tired of letting his Nurturing environment dictate his life, first activated his Narrative during his mid-high school years, because he was on course to not graduate. Knowing he was the only one who could change this direction, he put in extra effort to pull up his grades to graduate.

His next Narrative experience was serving in the Air Force (States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party.) His Narrative weakened, however, after serving his term. During his civilian life he did not exercise, had a horrific diet, and eventually worked at a pest extermination company.

David, however, eventually grew sick and tired of coasting back to his old ways. One night, after spraying for cockroaches, he saw a TV documentary featuring the Navy SEALs. He was almost 100 pounds overweight, but a newer Narrative now ignited his soul. It was determined--I want to be a Navy SEAL!

Over the course of three months he lost close to 100 pounds, got into physical and cardiovascular shape, and was able to pass the entrance exam. BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) Training) is a 6-month training with Three Phases. David endured the first part of Phase One, which included the infamous Hell Week. Due to injury, however, he wasn't able to complete it--but that didn't keep David down. Upon recovery he went back, suffered another Hell week, and then all the Phases to become a SEAL.

Yet, his Narrative continued. After serving as a SEAL he went through Army Ranger training (which also had a Hell Week). During his military career David served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he is the only military member to be a Navy SEAL and Army Ranger.

And still, his Narrative continued. After retiring from the military he aimed for various achievements of endurance. As posted on his website, "David has competed in more than 70 endurance races, has placed 3rd at the Badwater 135 Death Valley--considered the world’s toughest foot race, and regularly placing in the top five in other ultramarathons. He also held the Guinness World Record for the most pull-ups done in 24 hours completing 4,030 in 17 hours."

Your Narrative & Nurture?

As you self-reflect on your Nurturing environment, is there any way you have allowed it to limit the voice of your Narrative? If so, it is not too late to let your Narrative take control. We can't control all the aspects of our Nature and Nurture--but we do have the power of our Narrative! Where is your Narrative leading you?

To learn about the complete story of David Goggins, see below.

Be aware that David uses strong language as he shares his story:

Book: Can't Hurt Me (Clean edition available)

Other articles in The Three N's of Life Development series:

Nature, Nurture & Narrative - Overview of the Three N's.

Narrative & Nature - How your Narrative can speaker louder than your Nature.

Dale's Story - Seeing While Blind - A Narrative of true 20/20 vision.

Zach Lucas is a Licensed Professional Counselor for the State of Oregon.

He also teaches dual credit high school Psychology classes in the Portland area.

Feel free to contact him at:


The information provided is for self-exploration only and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease.  Always consult with a licensed professional who specializes in the area you are seeking to understand and treat.  

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