Saturday Selection – An Interview With Shane Michael Taylor

By Jodi Chapman

I am beyond excited to introduce you to Shane Michael Taylor! We met in June at a conference for like-minded people who are ready to share their positive messages with the world. Shane is an amazing person, and I am such a fan – I know that after reading this interview (and listening to his book), you will be a fan, too!

Shane isn’t even 30 years old yet and has already achieved so much in his life – both on a physical level and on a spiritual level. Some of his external accomplishments include receiving two college degrees, owning a production company, producing an album, writing a country music album and having many talented artists perform on it, and writing a memoir. And yet, while it is amazing for anyone to have achieved all of these things – especially at such a young age – they all pale in comparison to Shane’s character and his spiritual wisdom. He is a teacher – and he teaches by example. He realizes the extreme power that our thoughts have on our lives, and he makes sure to keep his positive. He knows how important it is to surround yourself with positive people, so he makes sure that he does this. He knows that anyone who has a dream can reach it and make it come true. He has stretched himself beyond what even he thought was possible, and in doing so, he is inspiring so many of us to do the same.

All of the wonderful things that Shane has achieved in his life would be amazing accomplishments in themselves. What makes them beyond amazing, though, is that he has reached these dreams while living in a body that doesn’t function like most of ours. He was born with a severe case of cerebral palsy, which is a neurological disorder that causes your brain and body to not always be on the same page. Because of this disability, he has had to push himself beyond what even he thought was possible and get creative in how he does things – such as typing with his nose. He doesn’t let his physical disability get in the way of his dreams, and he isn’t defined by this disability. This is such a great lesson for all of us.

Shane’s audiobook, Living This Rodeo, has just been released, and I hope you all listen to it immediately. It’s a memoir of his life thus far, and I guarantee you will be inspired by his words and want to live your best life after hearing it. While listening to it, I felt like I was there with him – feeling elation when he reached a dream and also being brought to tears when sadness and grief entered his life.

Shane is a true testament to the human spirit and the power of our minds – we truly can do anything we believe we can do. Shane is proof of that.

I am amazed at how much you have achieved in your life by consciously overriding your limiting beliefs and pushing yourself to live the life of your dreams. Can you talk a little bit about your process? (For example, do you say affirmations, be aware of and replace your negative thoughts, surround yourself with positive people who serve as models and mentors, etc.?)

Thanks.  It all starts with believing.  We all have a purpose for living, and we all also have a unique set of challenges.  In spite of that, we all have the ability overcome these challenges using the power of the mind.  I try to think positively and surround myself with like-minded people who are positive as well. I find that focusing on the end goal helps me get through the challenges and hard times that I encounter. But most of all, I never stop believing that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to. If I don’t believe it’s possible, then it’s not one of my goals.  I mean, I don’t try to move mountains or become the next American Idol (chuckles).  I can’t sing due to my speech impairment—I’m not God… But as I say in my speaking engagements, dreams are accommodating and accessible to everyone—there’s not much that I think is too farfetched or impossible to achieve.   The key is to believe it is possible.

Where do you think your drive comes from to be the best you that you can be?

I think I’m driven by the desire to connect with people and help them relate to emotions that I have experienced so that they can relate and maybe be inspired. Because I have a severe speech impairment, communicating with others has always been one of my biggest challenges, but music has a leveled playing field.  Being a country music artist/songwriter and author, the ability to relate to the listener and facilitate a particular emotion in them is a real privilege.  I take that privilege very seriously.  If they are going to invest their hard-earned money and the time of day to listen to my music or book, I owe it to them to ensure they get the best experience possible.

Were you born with it or can you pinpoint a life experience that made you stop and change the way you lived your life?


There were two major turning points in my life, one high point—when I discovered the power of music, one dark low point of an attempted suicide. I knew that I had to be a part of music since the age of 12 when I first heard the song “Standing Outside the Fire” by Garth Brooks as I was riding a horse at the conclusion of a horseback riding program. Since then, I have been driven to get into music and write the best songs I possibly can.  But, as I disclose in the book, a few years ago, I allowed self-destructive thoughts and the toxic beliefs of others take over my life and almost ended it all.  Thankfully, I realized that I had nothing to lose by giving life another try and vowed to follow my dream in full force and help others who may be going through similar experiences.

Have you ever met Garth Brooks? I think that it would be a perfect full-circle moment for you to have him sing one of your songs. Is this something that you are pursuing?

I have not yet had the opportunity to meet Garth yet, although I am trying to get him a copy of my book since he’s in it and is the main reason that I have this career. And yes, it would be pretty amazing for him to sing one of my songs! I believe that can totally happen at some point in the future.

I know that Jack Canfield is one of your mentors – he’s such an amazing man. What is one thing that you have learned from his teachings?

The one thing that I have learned from Jack is to take action. I was first introduced to Jack and his Success Principles when I was in college. I was a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, and he was a guest speaker discussing his success principles in detail. At the time, I was only two months away from graduating. I had always wanted to try living independently in the dorm, but I would always chicken out. Right after hearing his speech, I decided that I needed to leave my comfort zone and commit to living on campus since it was the most ideal environment to try to live independently, away from my parents and family for the first time. So, I decided to return to school for another year and earn a second degree in Sound Recording. It was one of the best things that I have ever done because once I was successfully living on campus, my confidence went up. That was a big milestone for me because I proved that I could survive and live a functional life without the physical support of my family.

After hearing your book, I find myself wanting to push myself and stretch even more to live the life of my dreams. Who makes you want to stretch even more? What about them makes you want to keep pushing out of your comfort zone and soar toward your dreams?

It’s just a natural progression for me. I have not yet achieved most of my goals and dreams; I’m just starting out.  But I see life as a never-ending journey toward greater fulfillment of our life purpose.  I recently heard Jason Aldean describe it very well on a radio interview.  He said something along the lines of “the more success you have, the more confident you are and vice-versa”  I totally agree because the more confident you are, the more willingness you have to stretch the boundaries and grow, which leads to more success.  So it’s a continuous cycle.

As far as who pushes me, I don’t think it’s one single person, although my mom was a huge inspiration for me and often encouraged me to try things that I didn’t think I was capable of. That was a major part of my upbringing, which I think led to me wanting to keep pushing the envelope and discovering what I’m truly capable of.  Now she’s watching from up above; and knowing that alone inspires me to be all I can and live out my life purpose to the fullest.

I’m so sorry about your mom’s passing. She sounded like such a wonderfully loving person who was your biggest supporter. I know she is watching you from above and filled with so much admiration and love for all that you are achieving.

Yes, she was a great, great woman with a kind and generous heart.  I feel so blessed to be her child.  She taught me so much about life in general, how to exist in the world and be a decent human being.  There was nothing that made her more happy than when she was helping someone, whether it was her family, or just talking to a complete stranger.

What are you most grateful for about the time you were able to share with her?

I’m most grateful for the courage that she instilled in me since I was a baby. She had a pretty sharp sense of humor and often would use it to kick my butt in a loving way—never letting me use my disability as an excuse for why I couldn’t get something done. I think it was because of this and the fact that she brought me up the same way as my brother that it became natural for me not to allow my disability to limit what I believed was possible.

I’m also grateful that she was able to see the start of my success in the real world after college as I got to prove myself in the music industry by producing an album for a rock band.  She saw me in action while my brother had just landed a job as an insurance underwriter straight out of college.  I know that seeing the two of us functioning successfully in the world made here a proud mamma.

Wow, and obviously you have not strayed from this “can-do” mindset that she has instilled in you.  You recently spent time in Nashville to work on your debut album as a country artist and songwriter—how did it feel to have your lyrics put to music and recorded onto an album? I can’t imagine how full my heart would be to have this happen.

It felt surreal.   I’ve been writing songs since my early teens.  So being able to hear my lyrics and songs come to life was a tremendous victory, and to have them put onto an album has fulfilled a dream that was beyond my comprehension and belief of what was possible for me and my music career. I often joke about how I can’t even talk on key never mind sing, and the thought of being an artist and having my own album was just a crazy fantasy that I never talked about, but one of my friends and mentors in Nashville helped me realize that I don’t need to be a vocalist and sing in order to make an album and have a career as an artist.

Do you have a release date for your debut album?

There is no release date as of yet, but I think it will be out in the early part of next year.  It’s going to be titled I Will Stand.  We are just in the beginning phases of shooting a music video of a song called “Warrior Cowboy,” which will be the lead single off the album.  There is also a bonus track single at the end of the audio book called “Livin’ This Rodeo,” which is where the title of my book came from.

Aside from music, what is one thing that makes your heart full and your soul sing?

Human contact. Because of my situation, I’m constantly surrounded by people so I’m blessed to have quality relationships with those who support me in my daily life. It’s a real gift to be able to share the journey of challenges and victories with those who have made doing so possible. I may not have the traditional band and crew behind me, but it is my team of assistants that  really help make this a reality and I love them to death.  They are family to me.

Thank you for teaching me more about cerebral palsy. You dispelled so many misunderstandings about what it’s like to live with this disability in your book. I think that so many people (myself included) are in the dark about this disability, and your shedding light on it is so helpful. If you could share one wish that you would like everyone to know about your disability, what would it be?

My disability is merely a set of physical challenges that are different than most people. All of us have a unique set of challenges in life that can be overcome, and I’m no different.

What is on your horizon – short term and long term? Do you keep a vision board? Do you plan out your future or just follow your soul’s desires?

I do not have a vision board but I do have a clear vision of where I want to go in life and I do not really plan my future; I just know where I want to go, trust my gut, and listen to divine inspiration. I recently went to Nashville for two months to cut my forthcoming album. I always wanted to go to Nashville some day, but in late winter of last year there was one day that I was really having a tough time and I couldn’t sleep and all of a sudden I heard a familiar voice that said, “Go to Nashville, my son…  It’ll be ok.”  From that point, everything fell into place with the preparation of making this album. A few of my long-term goals include having my songs cut by major label artists and eventually having my own Broadway production about my experiences that incorporates my songs—that would be cool!

I really related to the part of your story where you shared about your limiting beliefs with believing that you would be in a loving relationship one day. Thank you for being so honest and authentic – it makes what you are saying that much more inspiring, and it encouraged me to look at my own limiting beliefs and reframe what is truly possible for me. I believe that you will find your soulmate. Because you believe in visualizing this person and attracting her into your life, I believe it will happen. You’ve already done that in so many other areas of your life. Are you taking concrete steps to bring this person into your life?


It’s great to hear that you related to this experience, and it has helped you. Deciding to include some of my more personal experiences was tough, but I felt that if I could help just one person, it would be worth it. I am definitely more confident now that my career is getting off the ground and my mindset is totally different. I no longer have those limiting beliefs holding me back and have been on a few dates since writing the book.  The album does contain a love song I co-wrote called “Turn My Heart Around” that did attract a multi-platinum artist to cut the vocals for it- maybe that’s a good sign, I don’t know :-)

You’ve overcome so many obstacles and throughout it all have come out ahead – positive and pushing forward toward the next dream. I know that you have bad days just like the rest of us, but you continue to get back on track and focus on what IS working in your life versus what ISN’T. What advice would you give to someone who continually finds themselves pushing forward yet feeling like they are taking more steps back than moving ahead?


I would tell them to keep believing in themselves and never lose sight of what they’re going for. Sometimes what appears to be moving backwards is actually closer to our goals and dreams. As I discuss in the book, there may be some detours that are not meant for us to understand but get us closer to where we need to be at that particular point in time.

In your book, you discuss limiting your time with toxic people.  I am a huge believer in surrounding ourselves with loving, supportive people who are vibrating on the same positive frequency, so this section of your book really resonated with me. Can you give any tips for anyone who isn’t quite sure how to set boundaries with negative people?

First, I would say to avoid them whenever possible.  When it’s not possible, then it really helps to train ourselves to take these people and their comments with a grain of salt and humorously whenever possible. We know ourselves better than anyone else in the world, so when people are negative and say negative things to and about us, they only have merit if we allow them to.  I’d much rather be here talking with you than what my “nay-sayers” had in mind for my future—sitting in bed in some facility and watching cartoons all day (laughs).  They’re called toxic for a reason and I know firsthand how dangerous toxic folks are to our dreams – and to our lives.

When you take time to go within and listen to your higher self, what are some things it says to you?

I’m reminded to be grateful for everything and everyone in my life and that things have a way of working themselves out.

I am so grateful to be alive and able to contribute to society in an attempt to make the world a better place…  I’ve entered this world knocking on death’s door.  So I view every day as a blessing and try to make the most of my time here.   I’m most grateful to God for the gift of life and for guiding me on this journey.

I also sometimes hear my higher self say stuff that helps get me pumped up and gives the songwriter in me a much needed jolt of creative electricity.

Do you have a mantra that you live by?

I don’t know if it’s quite a mantra, but the phrase “I’ll keep hangin’ tough” pretty much sums up how I live my life. It’s actually a part of the bridge of my song “Livin’ This Rodeo”. I think of my life metaphorically as a rodeo, full of ups and downs, kind of like riding a bull. It’s easy to get bucked off and lose out in life if we get distracted, but if we continuously focus on winning in life, we cannot be thrown off course. That’s what the phrase means to me.

What book(s) are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading The Thank-You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk. I became a big fan after reading his previous book Crush It! I think that he pushed me over the edge in realizing that I can make a living doing what I love to do. I really admire his approach to life and business and hope that there’s a way that he could become President one day; he would make a damn good one!

From our Soulful Journals:

What have you given to the world? What would you still like to give?


I’m not sure how much I have already given to the world just yet, but I know that I’m here to entertain and inspire people to live to their fullest potential. As I mentioned, I feel that I’m just getting started.  I believe that I’m in a unique position to help encourage people overcome their roadblocks and challenges.

I also think that it is my duty to do everything in my power to support and raise awareness for the wounded heroes of this country.  I’ve had this disability since birth – so it always has been a part of my life.  But we have these men and women overseas who have been severely disabled fighting for our freedom.  It’s a sacrifice that even I can’t totally comprehend.  But I do understand that going from being completely able-bodied and in the best shape of your life to no longer having the ability to take care of yourself and having to rely on family, friends, and nurses to survive from day-to-day is a drastic lifestyle adjustment—and traumatic for them and their families.  Both from a physical and emotional standpoint.  It’s heart-wrenching thinking of what they are going through to protect the very thing that we’re here discussing—the ability to follow our dreams.  I believe that no matter where we stand on the political spectrum, we all have an obligation to thank and show our gratitude to the men and women who protect our freedom to live our dreams.

How is your life different now than you thought it would be?

I guess I never thought that life would be this wild, and I mean that in a good way. When we are young, I think that we view the future as something that’s linear—we expect things to happen smoothly and orderly; we, for good reason, are a bit naïve to the fact that life is full of ups and downs and twists, turns, and roadblocks that we’ve got to live through…

I mean, even though I knew from early on that music had to be in my future, if you told me that one day I’d be sitting here because of a book I wrote about my journey of overcoming the obstacles and becoming a country artist who is about to release an album, I would have laughed at you.  I was just a physically challenged kid who managed to learn to balance on a horse when the dream was born.  And it has been one heck of a ride ever since.

***

Thank you so much, Shane, for this heartfelt interview! Thank you, also, for being willing to “go there” so completely in your book – you pushed yourself and went to the raw emotion, which makes me admire you all the more. I am so inspired by your spirit, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for you. You are a true inspiration.

I highly recommend that you listen to Shane’s book, Living This Rodeo. It is available in physical CD format as well as an MP3 download. (It will also be available as an e-book in the near future.)

It’s truly one of the most amazing triumphs of the human spirit that I have ever heard. I guarantee you will feel moved and inspired to live your best life, too.

For more from author Jodi Chapman, please visit her blog Soul Speak.

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