Middleton Elite Coaching recently hosted a fabulous guest speaker Daniel Cloy, who shared his inspiring journey and challenged conventional views on adversity and resilience.  As someone with prosthetic limbs, Daniel defies the challenges he faces and emphasizes the importance of a positive mindset.  His story aligns with our goal of questioning common beliefs and exploring further possibilities. Facing childhood adversity, including peer cruelty, Daniel realized overcoming challenges is more about mental resilience than physical limitations. His ‘Cloy Concept‘ emphasizes a strong mindset, asserting that no challenge is insurmountable, and empowering people to shape a better future.


Daniel’s Story

I’m Daniel Cloy, originally from Birmingham, Alabama –  though I’ve spent most of my life in South Carolina. 

I decided to wear shorts today despite having prosthetic legs, and that’s a choice that I’ll get into a little later. Before that, let me introduce you to some aspects of my life. One question I encounter frequently is, “What happened to you?” And while my personal story begins there, it’s rooted in my parents’ journey.

My parents, two incredible and humble individuals, yearned for a child for several years. After enduring heartbreaking miscarriages, they were overjoyed to learn that they were expecting a baby boy. Their pregnancy was closely monitored, and the Birmingham Research Hospital assured them they were carrying a healthy child after each prenatal appointment.

However, on the day of my birth, everything changed. As I made my entrance into the world, the doctors discovered that I was missing both my legs and my left hand. The room buzzed with alarm as they quickly took me away. The shock and panic in my parents were palpable. My dad, a beacon of calm, asked about what had happened, and the doctor responded, “Your son was born missing his legs and left hand.

My dad’s response? A nonchalant, “Is that it?” He then took it upon himself to break the news to my mom, who had been anxiously awaiting information. Her response? “Is that it?” Their unwavering love and acceptance marked the beginning of my extraordinary journey.

They treated me like any other child, never letting my physical differences define my potential. They’d encourage me to get up and keep going when I stumbled. By the time I was 10 or 11 months old, I was learning to walk using my residual limbs. At 12 months, I received my first pair of prosthetic legs.

(All images courtesy of Daniel Cloy at www.thecloyconcept.com)

My journey was and continues to be shaped by the incredible support and resilience my parents instilled in me from the very beginning. Their unconditional love and belief in my potential allowed me to embrace the challenges of life with determination and a positive outlook.

Over the years, I’ve faced various hurdles and achieved significant milestones, which I look forward to sharing with you. My experiences have led me to share my perspective on perseverance, the power of a positive mindset, and more concepts I’ve developed along the way. My goal is to inspire others to challenge their perspectives and discover how to use adversity as a catalyst for personal growth and success.

Discovering Joy & Passion Through Adversity

To continue my story, I was learning to walk without legs, a feat I was determined to conquer. This stage of my life introduced me to the realms of physical therapy and occupational therapy, which became essential in nurturing my development and ensuring I was progressing at a pace akin to my peers.

During these early formative years, I was observed to favor my left hand – an observation that led to a curiosity about whether I might actually be naturally left-handed. In response, my occupational therapists were determined to strengthen my right arm. One particular exercise involved repetitively throwing a tennis ball, a practice that struck a chord with me and, evoked my father’s joy for baseball.

My father, a former college baseball pitcher, shared his passion for the sport with me. This love for baseball became a profound influence and source of motivation throughout my adolescent life. And, as you can probably imagine, I wanted to share that passion with him

Skipping ahead through my childhood and onto my burgeoning baseball career, I was driven by an unrelenting determination to excel on the field. I pursued my dreams with unyielding resolve setting my sights on the local nationally-ranked high school baseball program. This enviable accomplishment fueled my aspirations to join their ranks, and propelled me to train diligently. I mastered pitching with the same hand, a skill I honed with a steadfast commitment and relentless desire to do so.

My unwavering dedication to play with the best ultimately earned me a place on the team during my freshman year in high school. However, my journey was not without its share of challenges as I was plagued with injuries and setbacks. With a chance to prove myself in my senior year, I threw a complete game two-hitter shoutout making headlines the local newspapers.

To compete at such a high level required rigorous training, with a significant emphasis on lower body strength. Because pitching hinges heavily on the lower limbs, I began an extensive regimen, including demanding leg press exercises. I broke a high school weightlifting record, achieving a remarkable 1,200 pounds on a leg press. I also learned that my mindset and commitment to my goals would become a powerful tool in my arsenal, both on and off the field.

With my high school baseball career behind me, I set my sights on collegiate baseball. Although some met my enthusiasm with skepticism, I forged ahead, initially enrolling at Anderson University, where I walked on to the team. My journey, however, was beset with injuries. This setback necessitated my transfer to the College of Charleston, where I faced two consecutive years of narrowly missing the final cut by a single spot. Despite this, I consistently pitched for five weeks each time, without yielding a single hit.

The remarkable nature of these achievements did not go unnoticed, and I found myself featured on the cover of the school magazine. This recognition marked a pivotal juncture in my life, setting the stage for a new opportunity.

Read the full article here

New Opportunities

One phone call changed the course of my life, as it came from the casting director of “The Walking Dead,” a renowned television series. A chance to be part of the show as a zombie presented itself, though, initially, I was unfamiliar with the series and questioned the authenticity of the opportunity. I both contemplated and embraced this peculiar offer, making many appearances as a zombie on the show.

With a blossoming film career and my moment of fame on “The Walking Dead,” I made a life-altering decision to redirect my path, resolute in my pursuit of a meaningful and fulfilling journey. My time both on and off screen involved the use of prosthetics, and pursuing all of my passions would not have been possible without them. This led me to find meaningful work in the field of prosthetics, where I partnered with a local prosthetics company over a decade ago.

I engage with surgeons, hospitals, and rehabilitation teams, advocating for individuals facing amputation. I offer them counsel on the pros and cons and accompany them throughout the process. This work is both rewarding and challenging, requiring the delicate task of providing guidance to those on the cusp of life-altering decisions.

Because ambition runs in my veins, I expanded into real estate with the goal of positioning myself at the forefront of the field. I have become a prominent speaker, inspiring audiences across the nation with a mission to empower individuals by encouraging them to confront adversity with unwavering determination and resolute spirit. I share details about my dedication to my baseball career and the physical feats I achieved resonate with my audiences. The insurmountable odds I faced only fueled my determination to prove that a deck stacked against me was an opportunity to rise above and excel. 

Watch Daniel’s TEDx Talk

The Grit Required to Succeed

I know that real estate leaders are driven and successful as individuals. You hold the leadership position because of the way you push yourselves. If I could give a message that will help leaders move forward in focusing on their role as a leader, I would emphasize giving somebody purpose. 

If a team member is struggling to get through making outreach calls or some other lead-generation effort, it says one of two things:

1. They are struggling to find purpose, drive, and belief that they’re going to succeed.

2. We’re not down there on the front line with them and pushing them hard to get it done.

 I think my teammates pushed themselves harder because I was out there. They probably thought ‘If this guy is able to do it, then you better believe I have to make it.’ And so, in sales, I would look at it more as an opportunity.

I believe that true growth occurs when we confront challenges head-on. This is when the depths of our resilience and true potential are unveiled. There’s a vital lesson for real estate leaders and team members alike. The role of leadership extends beyond extracting productivity and performance; it encompasses nurturing an environment where individuals feel encouraged to succeed. My father is a great example. Rather than imposing his own dreams, my father fostered my growth by extending his support for my interests and belief that I could achieve my dreams while leaving me room for self-discovery. 

My hope is that my experiences offer valuable lessons for leaders in the real estate profession to inspire and motivate your team, and focus on fostering an environment that encourages and supports individuals in their pursuits. Belief in your team members, providing a sense of purpose, and guiding them through adversity are powerful tools for enabling collective success.

When I reflect on the challenges I faced growing up, it was often the absence of support, the silence when others should have spoken up, that made a profound impact. Believing in someone can have a ripple effect, significantly altering the course of a person’s life. The importance of taking that step to offer help, provide encouragement, or simply show compassion – even in a professional capacity, should not be underestimated.


The Challenges  Opportunities of Daily Life 

I’m often asked about the complexities of completing routine daily tasks. Providing a glimpse into my daily life often highlights my commitment to life’s demands. Tasks as simple as showering requires thoughtful navigation when you have prosthetic limbs. Despite my life’s challenges, I believe greatness is measured by the determination and effort we bring to the journey, rather than by the circumstances we’re dealt. I’ve learned that adaptability is an important part of the human capacity for resilience.

My daily routines may take more time and effort than those of others, and I approach them with a mindset that encourages continuous improvement. I have learned to embrace technology and appreciate its advancements. My reliance on technology, particularly my comprehensive digital calendar for time management, is significant. I use tools like calendars to enhance my productivity, set reminders, and ensure I manage my schedule in a way that allows me to make the most of each day. 

I believe in the importance of efficient time management because it is actually necessary for me to make the most of every minute. I believe we should all use our time wisely to pursue our goals and dreams relentlessly.


Support In Place of Judgement

We often take our health for granted, and it’s easy to overlook the struggles others may be facing. I love to remind people that we should never judge others based on appearances alone. My own experience with shallow judgments in middle school and high school has impassioned me to look beyond physical appearances. True connections are built on character, kindness, and understanding. The shallowness I encountered in my youth has driven me to appreciate the depth of meaningful relationships, particularly with my wife, Heather, with whom I share my life, a deep and lasting bond, and my home in downtown Greenville with our two beloved pups, a Great Dane named Zeus and a Lab mix named Samson.

can Heather’s willingness to look past my appearances and focus on the person within became a guiding principle in our relationship. And, it has been a reminder that kindness and understanding are essential in all interactions, as we often have no idea what others are going through

This is especially true in team dynamics and leadership. We should approach each other with empathy and offer a supportive environment where people can flourish. We never know the personal struggles our team members might be dealing with. We can often choose our attitude and outlook on life, though it is much easier to do in a supportive environment. I work with leaders to create spaces where people feel valued and can overcome their challenges. How we choose to approach life’s challenges and interact with others can make all the difference.


When Tough Doesn’t Feel Like Enough

The Cloy Concept of overcoming adversity, building mental toughness, and fostering growth can be applied in various aspects of life, not just in the gym or on the field. 

Whether it’s in business, leadership, or personal development, these principles hold true. First and foremost, the idea that nobody is as tough as they think they are is a humbling reminder. When you recognize that you can always push yourself further and grow, it opens up opportunities for personal and professional development. The mind often gives up long before the body is ready to. To inspire your team, lead by example. Show up and demonstrate that you’re willing to do the hard work alongside them. When you face adversity, whether it’s in the form of personal challenges or professional obstacles, share your experiences. Show them that it’s okay to have tough days, but it’s not okay to give up. Overcoming adversity isn’t about being invincible; it’s about persistently moving forward.

The key message is that there is always something positive to be gained from difficult situations, even when it may not be immediately apparent. I encourage introspection and a focus on controlling what can be controlled while appreciating every moment.

Focus on finding positivity in challenges so you can learn from every situation, no matter how difficult it may seem at the moment. It is important to maintain perspective, adapt, and push yourself during both adversity and favorable circumstances with gratitude and empathy for others


Final Thought

We want to extend our thanks to Daniel for sharing his unique journey and providing such a thoughtful perspective. Middleton Elite Coaching appreciates Daniel’s contribution in reminding us that challenges, when approached with the right attitude, can become opportunities. We value Daniel’s insights on recognizing the strength within and addressing life’s obstacles with determination and optimism. 

Learn more about Daniel here.