Grit and grind attitude is what separates those that are willing to put in the hard work and commitment from those who are not. A former walk-on to Indiana University’s football team, Collin Taylor tells us what it takes to become a professional athlete. A firm believer of taking advantage of every opportunity given, he breaks down his routine that inevitably bred success in his career. As he gives his take on the essence of the game changer mentality, discover his passion in getting kids into the success path at an early age, and making sure that they commit and do whatever it is they need to do.
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Putting In Hard Work And Commitment with Collin Taylor
I have a professional athlete with me, Collin Taylor. He is a former walk-on at the University of Indiana football team. He became a three-year letter winner before graduating with a Sports Broadcasting degree. He started playing arena football professionally in about 2010. Since then, he’s totaled up over 500 catches, over 6,000 yards and 126 touchdowns. He has played in cities all over the US as well as China and now in Albany, New York as a professional arena football player. Please welcome, Collin Taylor. Welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate the intro. You got me thinking about those years. It’s so long ago, playing in college. In 2005, I graduated from high school. It’s been quite the journey since then. I appreciate you bringing those things up. I’m happy to be here.
I’m glad to have you on the show. You’re a professional athlete. You’re doing something that I admire. I had a dream to become a professional athlete when I was a young boy. I was playing football. I got injured. You’ve heard my story. It’s fascinating to talk to you. I’m living vicariously through you at the moment. Tell me as a professional athlete, you have a lot of people out there that want to play on that level. Give us some idea of what it takes to become a professional athlete.
Let me start by saying this. I think about this a lot. I have no business being here. I shouldn’t have a professional sports background. I shouldn’t have a professional sports career. I grew up playing sports and loving playing sports. I wasn’t ever one of those guys who you would look at and say, “This guy has got the future. This guy is going to do this.” If you would’ve told me a decade ago or when I walked on at Indiana University, not a lot of big schools wanted me to play football for them. I was a tiny kid coming out of high school. I was let’s say 6′ and 170 pounds coming out of high school. I was one of the top ten receivers in Indiana, but I wasn’t by any means the best or the top two or top three.
It was something like you mentioned, you wanted to do it. I know, as kids, we grow up and a lot of us want to do it. We see it on TV, and we think it looks awesome. It seems like a cool job, to go out on weekends, play football and all that. I always wanted to do that. I feel like I have no business being here because I didn’t ever think it was a part of the plan. I’ve been able to ever since then take advantage of every opportunity that I’ve been given and I’ve been able to optimize my situation any chance I’ve been given.
I walked on in Indiana. I tried out for the football team with 90 other guys. They picked six of us. I happened to be one of them that they liked. If they didn’t like me then, that would have stopped the whole journey, but they liked me. I got on and started working. You know how college football works, you work your way through scout team and you get redshirted and you start playing special teams. The guys in front of you unfortunately sometimes get injured and you get an opportunity. I played receiver for a while. We had one of our defensive backs get hurt. They asked me to switch to defensive back. I made the transition in four days. I ended up starting against Iowa on ESPN in 2009. The first drive of the game, I had an interception. The second drive of the game, I had another interception. The third drive of the game, I had a forceful. Who knows why did that happen? It was optimizing and taking advantage of opportunities. I got the opportunity to try out for a professional arena football team years ago. I had a good try out again.
I took advantage of the opportunity I was given. Several years later, I was one of the top wide receivers in the league. Statistically, you list those statistics. One or two guys currently playing now who have stats like that. I’m not saying that to talk myself up. I’m saying that it took a lot of perseverance and a lot of hard work and taking advantage of the opportunities that I’ve been given to be able to get here. I understand how blessed I am to be in this opportunity and to be in this space that I’m at now. I make sure every single day to continue to do what I’ve done for the last decade, both on and off the field, to be able to put myself in the best situation to perform and continue playing the sport that I love professionally and for a career. I have no reason being here. I have no business being here.
Let’s talk about that because obviously, you’re here. I don’t want to leave that to chance. There’s something about taking advantage of opportunities. A lot of people would classify that as luck. I don’t believe in luck. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” It sounds like to me, you weren’t lucky. You were prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that were presented.
One thing that I learned growing up, my parents ingrained this in my sister and me. She’s four years older than me. I’ve idolized her my whole life. I basically followed her. Everything she did, I’ve tried to match. She was a four-letter winner at Indiana University. I wanted to go following her footsteps, play sports in Indiana and do all that. They ingrained in me, hard work. My dad worked a couple of jobs growing up. He wasn’t home a ton because he was busy working. As a walk-on in Indiana, they weren’t paying for my school. My dad had multiple jobs to be able to pay for me to go to school to be able to play football there. My whole life growing up, I watched my sister work hard. I watched my mom work hard. My dad worked hard and that was ingrained in me. I was and still am obsessed with hard work. It was one of those things that I know that things don’t come easy. They do for some people, they didn’t always for me. We talk about taking advantage of these opportunities. I did everything I could do up to the point to be able to shine when I got my chance.Set your mind on something and dedicate yourself to it over and over again. Click To Tweet
You talk about how you did a lot of hard work. Let’s get into the nitty and gritty of that. What are some of the hard work you’ve done?
It starts with getting up early. You have this morning routine. You basically optimize the morning. It’s one of those things where let’s say somebody sleeps until 8:00. They get moving with their day. They start their day at 9:00 and all that stuff. I figured if my competition is getting up at 8:00 and doing what they need to do. If I get up at 7:00, I will have that hour to work that they don’t get that opportunity to work. If I get up at 6:00, it’s even more. If I get up at 5:00, it’s even more. What we would do growing up, you’d go home, you’d watch Sports Center, you’d watch TRL, you’d watch these TV shows as well.
I wouldn’t do that. I would get home and then I would put my cleats on and I’d go out back. I would run routes in the backyard. My parents would tell a story in eighth grade I wanted to dunk. It was one of those things like I wanted to dunk a basketball. I thought it’d be so cool. I got this jump program. I remember it was sixteen weeks long. It was four or five days a week. As soon as I got it, I started working at it. It would be morning. It would be at night. It would be cold outside. I would be down in the basement jumping around. I’d be shaking the house because I was jumping and doing all this stuff you need to do for the program.
I was so dedicated and wanting to be able to do this. I knew the work I was putting in that other people weren’t willing to do. All the physical attributes that you have that you see these athletes have. Growing up, I didn’t have any of those. I was tiny, skinny and short. I had to do something like setting my mind on something and dedicate myself to it over and over again. They still tell those stories. They get home from work and I’d be down in the basement watching reruns of some of my favorite athletes in VHS tapes and I recorded their games. It would be Allen Iverson in basketball. I’d be doing his move.
I’d be practicing his crossover. I would be Warrick Dunn the running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I would record him. I would work on his cuts and I’d set up cones. This was sixth, seventh, eighth grade and to me it was fun. I also knew there was something because I would do it for a while. I would play at school and I would be quicker. I would be better. I would do these things that I was practicing. I would be faster than the other guys who I was going against in. I was doing this jump program. I started jumping higher than these guys, who I was going against. I remember thinking that that’s got to have something to do with what I’m doing when I’m not on the field.
That’s when I thought, “It’s not what I’m doing for the one hour that I’m out here on the basketball court, I’m out here on the football field or I’m out here on the track. It’s what I was doing when I was getting up early for school because that was the only time I could get my jump program in or I could get my pushups and sit-ups in.” It was being very consistent and working harder than I thought the next guy was working. That still is something that I tried to ingrain into my niece and nephew. My nephew is nine years old. Every time I’d go back and see him, I toss the football around and tell him like, “If you work on these little things and do this, you’ll be better than all your friends at school. You’ll be better.” I know they’ve got great parents who are doing the same thing. I’m just trying to help. It’s everything that people don’t see. It’s everything that you do when everybody else is out doing whatever they’re doing. What you do defines your character and defines the person who you’re going to be and who you’re going to become.
You bring up some thoughts from the past as well as some emotion there. In my ninth grade year, I played an entire season. I got hurt during my tenth-grade year but I remember preparing before football. My mom and dad, we didn’t have a whole lot. I was like you, a lot of the film and all that stuff, recording stuff, professional football games and things like that. It’s the same thing here. I remember my dad had this old barn that he kept back the lawn mower and things like that. I took over that thing. I went up there. When I was thirteen or so, they bought me a weight bench. I went into that barn and I rearranged everything in there. It was pushed towards the back and I had all my weight equipment in that room, in that barn.
When I had any free time, I wasn’t the type of guy to watch TV or anything like that, I would go out there in that barn. I would spend countless hours working on my body. It didn’t help that my uncle was a bodybuilder. I learned a lot from him. I spent a lot of time there working on my body and preparing for football. You talk about running those routes and using cones. I had a younger sister. She’s about five years younger. She had this little playset. It was like a table. It had four or five real small little chairs for a little girl to sit. I would use those chairs from that playset and a couple of other little toys. I would line those things up and I would create the A gap, the B gap.
I would create this whole thing. I would have playbooks that I’ve got from playing football. That’s how we remember those plays. I would go through in my mind, “This is where I’m supposed to go when the quarterback calls this play, if we’re doing a sweep, this is what’s supposed to happen.” I imagine that if I was in a real setting, these two guys, they’re going to pull. You can’t hit the hole. I’ve got to wait for them to get out in front of me then I’ll make my move and things like that. I was thirteen or twelve years old and I was doing this in my backyard and I was out there every day after school. In the summertime, I went through that process twice a day. I would work out twice a day.
This is including after-school practice. During the summer, you have the camp and all of that other stuff. This was in addition to all of that. The reason why I bring it up because what you were saying brought up those emotions. It’s that work ethic and that desire to be great, that desire to do something special, to chase your dream. When you’re in that space, you have that burning desire to do whatever is necessary in order to accomplish what you want to accomplish. I wanted to share that because you brought that up for me. I totally get the work that’s required to be great.
I’ll tell you what’s interesting to me too. We were two like-minded people. We did this growing up. We wanted to be successful. We wanted to be great, whatever it was that we were going to do when we grow up. I have this conversation pretty often. I’m in the strength and conditioning field when I’m not playing football in my off-seasons. My question is what is it that gives you as a twelve-year-old kid the drive and desire to take these chairs, to see these chairs, to set them up and say, “This is the A gap. This is what I’m going to do because I saw this guy do it. I have this playbook.” What does it take for me to get a sheet of paper and think, “I need to work on this?” I was ten, eleven years old and I’d write this stuff down and do this for five, six, seven hours at a time. What separates us from the kids who get home from school, sit down, microwave their lunch and sit, watch TV, don’t playouts and get on a video game? What is it that separates the two?
I would love to be able to find out what that is, whether it’s your environment, whether it’s the people you look up to or whatever it is. I’d like to find that and be able to get that mindset into younger kids and start them doing that younger like when we did it. I think about all this with my niece and nephew. How do I get them to be the kids who want to get home and shoot the basketball 100 times? My niece is into gymnastics. She gets home. I’m not saying she does sit down and watch TV because I know she doesn’t. How do we get her to want to do backhand springs for the next three hours outside before the sun goes down? It’s ten-year-olds and eleven-year-olds. It’s not like they’re grownups and you can say, “This will lead to happiness. This will lead to success. This will lead to more money. This will lead to freedom.” They don’t care about that stuff. They want to have a good time.
If you’re asking me, it is the game-changer mentality. What made me start doing those things is I had an uncle. He’s still living. He was a professional bodybuilder. He played high school football down in Hoke County in North Carolina. He went to college. He played a couple of seasons in college ball. I remember sharing with him, “I want to go pro.” That’s what I told him. I said, “I love football. I love the whole idea of contact sports and everything. I want to go pro.” He said, “Yeah?” I said, “I want to go pro.” He said, “If you want to go pro, you’ve got to think about this. It’s the best of the best when you go to the pro. In order to go pro, you’ve got to first get through college. When you get to college, the college includes all of the great high school football players. For you to be one of those players, you have to be really good.”
There are people that are good in high school, but they get to college, they try out and they find out they’re not good enough because there are other guys that are better. He said, “In order for you to do that, you’ve got to outwork your competition because there are other people competing for that spot. You take a look at all the people that want to go pro and the percentage of those people that go pro is a very small percentage. You can break that down to high school. You take all the high school kids that want to go to college and play on a scholarship or play in general.” It’s a large population, but only a small percentage of them get to play.
There’s going to be an even smaller percentage of them that goes pro. You’ve got to be special. You’ve got to have a talent and be able to play at a level that you get selected because most people won’t get selected. He said, “If you think you can do that, you’re going to have to meet all these requirements like athletic ability, all of this stuff. The only way you do that is you’ve got to start working on that right now. You’ve got to start thinking about being professional. You’re thirteen years old. If you want to go pro, you need to start thinking about what it is you need to do right now to go pro. You’ve got to start preparing for that right now.” If that didn’t light a fire underneath me, that lit me up. I appreciated that talk because I know there were other people out there that probably wanted to go pro. They didn’t get that tall. I felt I had an advantage, at least at that time did, because I was so young. I find out now these kids are starting at peewee. If you’re playing pee-wee ball, your chances are even lower.
That was the game-changing moment. That shifted my mentality towards being a professional football player. I started putting in the work at that point in time. I wanted to learn everything. I wanted to learn drills. I wanted to learn the plays. I wanted to be a running back. I love Emmitt Smith, Warrick Dunn, Earnest Byner and all those boys. I love those guys. I started looking at their tapes. I started reading autobiographies and finding out what kind of people were these people, what were their workout regimens, how much did they study film? I started applying it at that age. I started doing those things because that talk made me want to start doing things to ensure that when it was time for me to be evaluated with everyone else, I would be set.
You responded obviously well to this conversation. I had a similar conversation when I was younger and I respond in a certain way. It’s hard to say no to people, “You have to do this. You’ve got to work hard consistently for the next ten years.” There’s going to be a group of people who say, “Absolutely not. I’ll do it now and I’ll maybe do it tomorrow. After that, I’m done.” There’s a finite small group that’ll say, “Ten years, no problem. I’ll do it for twelve years. I will work as hard as I can to try to accomplish my goal and do whatever it takes to get there.” That is the game-changing mentality.
I have this conversation with kids when I do strength conditioning in these colleges. I have conversations with them in college. We’ll go back and I’ll work with the youth kids. The youth football players eight to eighteen and I’ll be talking to them. I’ll give them a similar conversation, a similar speech that I imagine your uncle gave you. We won’t know now how they respond to it. They might show up the next day and the next day they stopped responding and they stopped coming back. It’s like, “We lost that one.” Let’s say you give the talk to 30 athletes. You’ll have one or two of them who will keep coming back and keep working. They get some resistance. Maybe they have an unfortunate injury or something like that.Consistent effort will breed success. Click To Tweet
They come back and continue to work through that. You’ll have a couple of the guys who will have resistance and stop. It was great that you had that opportunity, but you also took advantage of that conversation. You said, “I’m going to do whatever it takes.” There are a lot of people who are not willing to do what it takes to succeed. That’s unfortunate. That’s why I’m interested. I’m interested in getting to those kids at an early age and making sure that they commit and they do whatever it is they need to do.
Part of that conversation is hoping you understand that the work is something that you can’t bypass. You’ve got to accept that reality for what it is. I’ve seen a lot of coaches where they won’t even work with certain people if you don’t have that burning desire. You don’t have that fire. If you don’t have the fire, if you don’t want it bad enough, if that desire is not in you, then it’s hard. You’ve heard the saying you can lead a horse to the well, but you can’t make the horse drink. I can coach you. I can give you information, but if you’re not willing to apply it, you’re not willing to put in the work, there’s only so far you’re going to be able to go.
There’s only so much success you’re going to be able to achieve because you can’t bypass the work. If you think about a mountain, if you want what’s on the top of that mountain, you’ve got to climb the mountain. There’s no way around it. You can figure out how you want to climb it. Maybe there’s another route you want to take that seems less challenging. At the end of the day, you’ve got to climb that mountain. I’m not trying to talk people down or anything like that but there’s this level of entitlement among kids and I’m with you. I want to tackle that too because back in our days, there was more of a value on hard work. Now it seems like, especially with the advancement of technology where I want to leverage, I don’t have to work as hard to get what I want and it doesn’t work.
We made several advances with internet, email and all of these things. When it comes to certain things, especially when it comes to birthing your idea, birthing your dream, a lot of that is work that has to be because there’s a lot of self-development when it comes to the birthing your dream. We understand that the work is making us better and that’s what it’s all about. The work allowed you to be a great athlete. The work allowed you to become a great person to work. It allowed these opportunities to present themselves to you and you to be able to take advantage of them. When you don’t do that, you lessen your opportunity, you lessen your possibility. Even in the good book, I don’t want to go religious on anyone, but the good book says that a man that doesn’t work should starve to death.
How can you expect to receive anything good if you don’t put in the work? I don’t think anyone should die. I’m not saying that. The message that I get out of that is if you want something, something that edifies you, something that can change your life, something worth having, it’s going to require a certain level of effort. It’s going to require a certain level of work and to me, that’s the common thread amongst all successful people, whether it’s athletes, business professionals, entrepreneurs or whatever. They will all tell you, “It’s effort and work at the end of the day.”
I couldn’t agree more and that comes right back to how I started the podcast. I have no business being in this position. The only reason I’m here is that I had good people guiding me. I had a great family to follow and consistent effort and consistent hard work. That is it. If you take one thing away, that’s what people need to understand. Hard work brings success. It’s not Monday through Friday. It’s seven days a week. It is 365 days a year and consistent effort will breed success. You will get whatever you want in this life as long as you’re willing to work for it. Unfortunately, not everybody is, but everybody willing to work for it will be successful in whatever it is they’re looking to get into and succeed in.
I want to share something with you as well. I don’t mean to be living in my accident. I talk about my accident. It’s a great story and I like to use it to show people what’s possible whenever you put the work in. The doctor said that I would never walk again. There was some level of recovery after my injury. I was paralyzed from the neck down initially. I got some recovery back in my shoulders about midway my chest. That was about it. I would ask them like, “Is this it? Should I expect more return in my functionality and ability?” They said, “No. As a matter of fact, in two years, we expect minimal. After five years, we don’t expect anything at all.” At least that’s from statistics of people that have experienced this type of injury. That’s what they would experience in terms of return. I couldn’t accept that. I told myself, “I’m going to work hard at this as I did with my dream of playing football. I gave 100% in everything. I’m going to apply that same mindset and that same effort towards this.”
One of two things is going to happen. I’m either going to reach some level of success that I can be somewhat satisfied with some level of functionality, some level of independence that’s going to be miraculous and beyond what the doctors have ever experienced or I’m going to die trying. It’s as simple as that. I began working. Two years went by and I got some level of return, but it wasn’t something that I was satisfied. I was still in a wheelchair. I couldn’t push the wheelchair. I would get in that wheelchair every single day and I’d attempt to push it. Finally, I got to a point I went to college, I graduated from high school. I attempted to walk across the stage. I got about halfway and I had to stop. That was a major breakthrough for me. I had been working towards that. I went on to college. I went to college in a push wheelchair and that was a breakthrough because in high school, I couldn’t push a wheelchair. It was a large campus and it didn’t matter to me.
I said, “If I have to leave for class an hour early in order to make it there on time because I’m slower, then that’s what I’m going to do.” I did that. I did three years in college. I got out of college and I kept working. I finally got a job and all of those things. After work, I would come home and the first thing I’d do is I’d hit the gym or I’d get on those crutches and I’d have somebody to walk with me, make sure I don’t fall and bust my head wide open. I would keep walking by. I had accomplished this. Five years went by, ten years went by, but I still hadn’t accomplished this goal. I said, “I’ll probably keep on going.” Fifteen years went by, I was like, “I don’t care.” I’m still going to keep going. I’m going to keep doing it. I don’t care if it takes me the rest of my life.
Finally, after eighteen years I was able to say, “I’m not going to walk around on these crutches and I’m not going to have a wheelchair behind me. I’m not even going to have a wheelchair in my car. I’m going to do this independently.” I did that. When I looked back at that, I attribute all of that to all of those years of continuing to take a bite out of this elephant, to keep cracking at this tree with the ax, to keep pushing, to keep putting in the effort to make something happen. Call it what you want. If I wouldn’t have done that, if I would’ve stopped at year ten, everybody would have been okay with that.
I wouldn’t have got any pushback at all from anyone after ten years if I say, “I’m going to hang it up. I’m going to live my life. This is what it’s going to be.” No one would have pushed back after fifteen years. Whenever you want something in life and this is what’s missing from the kids. I like telling that story because I want them to hear this because I’m able to walk now. I can walk around and that feels good. What feels better than that is knowing that in my heart, I made it because I didn’t give up. If I would have given up, I would have that thought in my mind and know in my heart that I gave up. I wouldn’t have ever been able to experience this dream, this goal. For kids, I want them to get that.
If you want something bad enough, is it worth you working for it for the rest of your life? That’s the question. Does it mean that much to you? I feel like people say they want certain things they want to accomplish certain things. They want to experience certain things, but they don’t want to experience it. They want someone to hand it to them. Are you willing to do what it takes as an individual even if it takes you for the rest of your life? I got to the point where I’m willing to die for it. I was talking to my dad about this business that I’m in right now. I told him I want to be one of the top speakers in the country.
That’s my goal. I want to be the top speaker of the country. It’s hard right now because I’m a young entrepreneur, this business is young. I told him, “It doesn’t matter. I’m willing to die for this if it kills me. I’m going to do whatever it takes. That’s where I’m at mentally. There’s no quitting. There’s no giving up. There’s no not putting in the effort on any given day of what it takes to make this happen. When you get to that point, that’s what I feel that you’re unstoppable. You’re certainly going to reach some high level of success because of that attitude and that tenacity. It’s going to cause you to grow and become a person that you didn’t think that you could become. That grind and that grit that you have, that’s what separates those that are willing to put it in and those that are not.
Do you think how easy it would have been in day ten, year ten or year twelve to stop, to quit? It would’ve been so easy. Nobody would’ve thought negatively of you. People would’ve said, “We knew this was going to happen eventually. You tried hard for two years. You tried hard for five years. You tried hard for ten years. Nobody would’ve given you any resistance. It would have been all good. It would’ve been so easy to stop. It’s easy to quit. I had a conversation with my family in my junior year of college. It was one of the few times, maybe there was one other time where I thought, “This is not for me.” Where I was at mentally with the whole sport of football, college and being around people who weren’t college athletes and seeing how much fun they were having, seeing how easy things were for them, knowing how hard I was working and getting up at 4:30 in the morning every day and doing all this stuff.
I sat down with my parents and my sister and I said, “I’m out. I can’t do this anymore.” I get emotional thinking about it because it was an emotional time for me. My sister looked at me, she said, “No, you’re not. You’re not done.” I remember thinking, “You’re not the one getting up early. You’re not the one putting yourself through this. You’re not the one who hears what these coaches are telling you, seeing what your friends are doing on weekends, knowing that you’re not the one doing that. Who are you to tell me that I can’t do this or that I can’t quit playing football?” She said, “No, you’re not done.” She was coming from a place of love where she said, “I know you’ve got it in you. You just have to get through this.” They left. I said, “It doesn’t matter what they say,” because I was in a place where it didn’t matter what anybody told me, even the people closest to me. I was done, I was over it. I wasn’t going to have success in this, so I might as well move on and do something else.
I had a couple more conversations with them and I said, “I’ll give it one more spring season.” One more summer training and more summer camp and I kept pushing. I remember sitting there and I was thinking that I want to be done. I don’t want to play this anymore. I remember thinking how easy it would be to quit and how everybody would be happy. “CT’s got the weekends free. Let’s go do what everybody else does in college. Let’s go do this. Let’s go out and have a good time. Let’s go drink on Saturday morning. Let’s do all this stuff.” I remember thinking about how I would feel going to football games knowing that I quit this. My friends are out there playing. I’m watching these games on ESPN knowing that I quit, that I didn’t give everything I had and I thought, “I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I would have done that.”
That was one of those moments. That was the conversation with your uncle. That was the time fifteen years in where you thought, “I want to stop. I want to give up. I can’t do this,” and you somehow push through that resistance. That was that moment for me. I think about that a lot when I’m having tough times here. In this business, in the sport, let’s say I have a player who comes in and who plays well. They decided to play him and put him in positions over me. I think, “I deserve this. I should be in this position.” Those conversations, I think about those times where I thought, “If I stop, it’d be way easier. If I let this guy come in and take my job, people will be happy.” “Congratulations, you had a good career. You played well.”
I thought, “I’m not done yet. I don’t care what this guy is doing.” It also works in the business world, not only in sports, but this guy is coming in to try to take my job. I’ve worked way harder than this guy. I know I’ve put in the time and I know I’ve got what it takes. It doesn’t matter how long it takes for me to get my position and to get my role back, but I’m going to take it back over. Consistently I can see different times in my career. In 2012, 2014, I remember exactly where I was on these teams. I remember these conversations I had with coaches, “We’re going to go with the other guy.” I remember thinking how easy it would be to say, “Let me step back, let me play this new role I’ve been given. I remember thinking about how upset I would be at myself if I let that happen.Unfortunately, we don't see a lot of good, genuine human beings these days because it's easy to not be. Click To Tweet
Instead, I say, “I’m not going to let that happen. I’m going to work harder than this guy. I’m going to prove to these coaches that I can do it and I’m going to succeed.” Consistently eight years of that, I’ve been able to continue to put myself back in the position where I’ve been the leading receiver and I’ve been the go-to guy and things like that. It’s not because nobody ever told me that I couldn’t do it. It’s not because I had people patting me on my back the whole time. “You’re good. You’re fine. Keep going, keep pushing.” It’s because I decided that’s not how it’s going to go out. Nobody’s going to tell me what I can and can’t do. I’m going to prove to these people and I’m going to prove it to myself. I’m going to prove it to my family. I want people to look up to me and say, “He got through it, I can get through it. I want my nephew to watch me on the field and think, “My uncle is living out his dream that he had when he was my age. If he can do it, I can do it. I can do anything I set my mind to because he has done it.” You’re an inspiration to people. I try to be that same inspiration.
As you were saying that story, which is an incredible story, there are two things that come up from me, two questions. I teach this in one of my training when I’m doing team building training for corporations and entrepreneurs. It comes back to values. Even with young kids, like kids start developing their values. A lot of times their values are based on the values of their parent’s, people that they were brought up with, people that they’re around. They start developing these values. These values are sometimes subconscious. They’re not at the forefront of your conscious all the time. What people don’t know about values though is that they drive your behavior.
If you think about your behavior, that thing that gets you up at 4:30 in the morning and makes you go to the gym, a lot of times it does take some conscious effort. That spark, that fire is like an unconscious thing. It’s just there. It shows up. I believe that has something to do with your values. I was reading a book, it says that 90% of your behavior is controlled by your value system. That leads me to two questions, which these questions as I evaluated my success and being able to overcome something devastating and traumatic injury were two things.
The first thing is what matters more to me than the resistance that I was facing. What matters more? I will ask entrepreneurs, “What matters more than your profits. If you don’t make a profit, what’s going to drive you beyond your profit?” What matters more to me if I didn’t walk again? The second question is what do I stand for? For me, what matters most, this is my value, it was not quitting. What I stood for was figuring things out with my mind. My physical body was challenged, but I still had my mind. It let me know that I can still think. I could still figure things out. I can still get things accomplished. I just had to think of another way of doing it.
Even when it comes to success, even when it comes to going pro, I wanted to go pro. I thought in my mind, “You can go pro in other areas. You can be a professional person or you can get a professional job. It’s not football. You are in a traumatic situation where your whole life is threatened. What would be a level of success that you could say you’re happy with?” I took that back to my values. When it comes to young kids, teenagers, they can start challenging some of the values that they have and asking themselves, what do you want to stand for? Do you want to stand for a person that eats ice cream, watch movies and TV all day, and hangs out and doesn’t produce anything? Right now in your life, in your teenage years, these are some of your best years. You have the energy. You don’t have all the responsibility as an adult.
Your parents are taking care of you. You can start honing in and identifying what it is that you want to accomplish in your life and you can start applying it right now. That’s going to put you light years ahead of people that don’t have that same value system or not putting in that type of work. You have to ask yourself, who are you as a person? What do you stand for even now? You don’t have to wait until you’re an adult to take a stand for something. What do you stand for right now? What do you want to stand for ten years from now, twenty years from now? In order to make that stand, who do you have to be right now? What do you have to stand for right now? When you start asking yourself those types of questions, that gets on the inside of who you are. That can bring a lot of change or at least it did for me. Maybe that’s the approach when it comes to kids. It’s tackling their values because that’s what’s driving their behavior.
That makes me think of these conversations that I have with younger athletes. The question I ask a lot is, “Are you driven or are you motivated?” If you ask the right athletes, they have the right answer. You see now all the time, kids will be motivated because they think they’re motivated by money. They’re motivated by success. They’re motivated by Instagram followers. They’re motivated by a number of likes on tweets. They’re motivated and as soon as those extrinsic things run out, as soon as they don’t get there, as soon as they don’t get the money right away, as soon as they don’t get the followers, as soon as they don’t get the girl right away, they fall off and you never hear from them again.
Driven people, driven athletes are the ones who are intrinsically motivated. It’s not things. It’s not the lights. It’s not the money. They want to better themselves. They want to be a better person. They have values that will lead them to be better people. That’s a conversation that I try to have as often as I can with people. Are you driven or are you motivated? What do you want? What are you trying to accomplish? “I want to be a pro football player because they have money and they have nice cars.” You’re never going to get there. I wanted to be a professional football player because I want to do inspire people in my position, who grew up tiny and scrawny and not with everything given to them. I wanted to show him like, “You can do this too.” That’s what drives me and that’s what has driven me my whole career.
I know I keep bringing it up. I want to be an inspiration to my niece and nephew. I want them to look up to me and say, “I can do this.” As I said, I can do this because he did it. That is what is driving me. That’s what wakes me up in the morning. That’s what gets me out of bed or when that alarm goes off, I could hit snooze. If I thought, “I’m not going to be able to get the paycheck for what I’m going to do this morning for another couple months, couple of years. I’m going to hit the snooze and sleep until 7:00 instead of getting up at 5:00.” That’s very easy to do. If you’re motivated, then that’s probably what you’re going to do. “I’ll have an extra coffee. I’ll have an extra energy drink. I’ll make up for those two hours that I slept.”
If you’re driven, you’re going to pop out of bed, you’re going to make your bed, you’re going to brush your teeth, put your clothes on and get moving in the direction that you need to go to be successful. We’ve got to make sure we’re having the conversation with these people that make sure they know the difference between being driven and being motivated. If you’re motivated and you need to get on YouTube and watch the Rocky IV training montage every time before you go to the gym because that’s what you needed to get yourself going, then you’re never going to have any success. If you can get up and pull it from inside, pull it from those values and know that you have a goal to achieve. You’re going to have to keep chopping wood, keep hammering at whatever it is you’re getting to, then we’re getting into a position where you’re going to be able to see some success from the hard work.
Where can people connect with you if they wanted to learn more about you or get more inspiration from you, how can they get in touch with you?
I’m pretty active on both Twitter and Instagram. My Instagram handle is @TheRealCT. Twitter is @Collin_Taylor. I’m active on both of those because I do love talking with the arena football fans on Twitter and on Instagram. A lot of them use those social media outlets to be able to do that. I try to respond to everybody and try to have conversations with everybody and help as many people as I can. I can be reached at both of those.
I want to thank you for coming on the show. This has been inspirational as well as down-home, good conversation with you. I appreciate you. Congratulations to all of your success as a professional football player. Thank you for looking back, wanting to reach back as a player to help other kids that inspire to do the same thing. Being that example, we need more role models and people that are willing to take a stand and demonstrate what it takes to be a professional athlete and a good person. There’s not enough of that in the world. I want to thank you for being that, for myself and for the audience and for other people that you are touching and inspiring. Thank you for doing that.
Thank you so much. That’s all I try to do. I have a great family who has instilled good values in me. I try to make them proud every day and continue to be able to help people. Anybody willing to work hard, I want to be able to help. I’m just like you. I’m trying to be an inspiration and try to get people moving down the right path. Unfortunately, we don’t see a lot of good, genuine human beings these days because it’s very easy to not be. I appreciate you recognizing that and I appreciate you saying that.
Thank you. There you have it. It’s another successful episode with Collin Taylor, a professional athlete in arena football. A major takeaway is to ask yourself, “Are you driven or are you motivated?” It’s a very good question. Until next time, stay blessed.
- Collin Taylor
- Instagram – @TheRealCT
- Twitter – @Collin_Taylor
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About Collin Taylor
Collin is a former walk-on to Indiana University’s football team. He became a 3-year letter winner before graduating with a Sports Broadcasting degree.
Collin began playing arena football professionally in 2010, and since then has totaled over 500 catches, over 6000 yards, and 126 TDs. Collin has played in cities all over the US, as well as China, and currently in Albany, NY for his second season. Collin spends the off-season as a college strength and conditioning coach.
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