Interview with Christian Cox, former College Football Star and NFL Athlete



I first met Christian Cox a couple years ago.  At the time, he lived just around the corner from me.  His build is very similar to mine: 6’3” 250 lbs, broad shoulders, and very athletic… ha ha… I wish I could be included in that description.  It was obvious to me that Christian played some kind of sport but I did not know which one.  I was serving a two-year LDS mission during Christian’s football rise at the University of Utah and subsequent free agent signing with the New England Patriots.  LDS missionaries are encouraged to leave many aspects of their former life behind while serving their mission.  This allows them to dedicated their time to God and their beliefs. As a result, I was unaware of his success on the football field.

I got to know the “person” before I got to know the “athlete.”  I gained a respect for his personality, kindness, and dedication to God and family.  Besides having biceps that seemed to rip out of his shirt sleeves, Christian was very approachable.  Months after I met Christian, I learned about his football success and was equally impressed.  Christian has been blessed to have accomplished his life goal in his 20s, to play in the NFL.  Currently, Christian is a husband, father of two, and working for a Utah tech firm.  While he experiences this time of transition from football to other things in life, I have no doubt that Christian is poised for greatness and will positively affect many people’s lives in the future.

My interview with Christian led to some fascinating insights.  Christian is not a Lebron James-type, freak athlete whose athletic ability is superior to 99.9% of human beings.  Don’t get me wrong, Christian is athletic; but he had to work extremely hard to accomplish what he did.  He had to show up every single day and give it his all.  I love this about him because it is much easier to relate to.  Most people are not blessed with elite, natural talent, but we all have the capacity to work hard.  I hope you enjoy learning from Christian as much as I did.  Enjoy!

Habit #1:  Always Be A Winner

I ask everyone I interview about their habits of success.  Everyone’s responses are interesting and useful, but Christian’s first response is my favorite so far.  Christian has a habit of “winning.”  By no means is this a prideful comment and that is why it is interesting.  As Christian reflects back on his football career, it is full of championships, victories, and awards.  So, how can someone create the habit of “winning?”  First and foremost is your mentality.  Winners expect to win.  When they lose, they are bothered a lot, and they figure out how to win next time.  Winners never stop fighting, working, trying, learning, etc.  They get up when they fall.  Winners have an intense inner-drive that motivates them to do the things that everyone else is not willing to do.

In my opinion, there are three general categories of people.  Born winners, learned winners, and everyone else.  Born winners have an innate drive and desire to win at everything they do.  Learned winners may not have that innate drive but they have learned it.  Their drive can be just as strong as born winners.  Everyone else, they just don’t care as much about winning.  They are satisfied with being mediocre and average.  The important thing to understand is, I am not suggesting that everyone should be a winner.  Creating or not creating this habit is completely up to you.  If you want to be a winner, if you want to be ultra-successful, then develop the habit of “winning.”  If not, don’t worry about.  There are significant costs to being a winner.  The path is not easy but can be rewarding.

Habit #2:  Go The Extra Mile

When you tell Christian to achieve level 10, he will achieve level 11.  Often, people who don’t go the extra mile are annoyed by people who do go the extra mile.  Do not let that hold you back.  There will always be “haters.”  Don’t hate them back, pay them no heed, and work hard.  Remember when I mentioned that “winning” has significant costs?  This is one of them.  Going the extra mile is difficult.  It requires you to forego the easier things of life.  Nevertheless, going the extra mile provides more opportunities for breakthroughs.  Breakthroughs lead to success.  Lots of breakthroughs lead to lots of success.

Habit #3:  Relish The Grind

Another question that I ask everyone is how they manage life when times are tough.  Adversity is the great sifter.  When times get tough, people who are dedicated and determined rise to the top while everyone else gives up.  Thinking about and starting to achieve your goals is exciting, but how do you respond when you are sore, experience constant rejection, can’t pass that test, etc?  Christian’s solution is to relish the hard times, never give up, and remember why you are doing what you are doing.  How can one “relish the grind”?  Clint Betts’ insight about expecting times to always be tough helps us understand how.  When life is difficult don’t run and hide.  Expect it and bring it on.  Know that tough times, if endured well, will bring growth and progress.  I don’t think relishing the grind requires you to jump up and down when a friend is diagnosed with cancer or when you fail an extremely important professional exam.  But I do believe that relishing the grind requires you to stay in control and ask, “What am I going to learn from this?  How can this make me a better person?”

I want to touch on one aspect of Christian’s response:  remember why you are doing what you are doing.  I mentioned this in this week’s podcast but I want to touch on it again.  In a recent conversation with my wife, she pointed out that goals don’t inspire her.  That statement caused me to think.  How can someone make serious progress in life without setting and achieving goals?  I was confounded until I realized something:  goals don’t inspire me either.  For example, I have a goal to provide for my family, get out of debt, and be financially prepared for the future.  Accomplishing this goal requires me to work more than full-time.  It requires me to reach out to other people, study, write, learn, overcome weaknesses and mistakes, etc.  Sunday night I went to bed around 10pm.  Monday morning my alarm went off at 4am.  I was tired and not excited that my alarm was sounding off.  At that moment, I needed inspiration.  So, what inspired me?  My vision!  Thinking about owning a house that we love and cars that are reliable.  Thinking about going on a awesome family vacation and exploring the world.  That is what motivated me to get up.  Goals are specific plans for how to accomplish a vision.  Goals, in and of themselves, may not be inspiring.  That is why you need a vision.  If you don’t have a clear, compelling vision, where is your inspiration going to come from?  “Where there is no vision, the people perish” Proverbs 29:18.  Goals don’t inspire; vision inspires.

I want to thank Christian for the time that he spent with me.

Have a great weekend!