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Cathy McKinnon: “We have to accept that things happen”

Accept — We have to accept that things happen. Life events happen, things don’t always go as planned, some things can’t be predicted. We don’t have to like that things happened the way they did but we can not progress forward if we are stuck on the fact that the event happened. Don’t spend all your time […]

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Accept — We have to accept that things happen. Life events happen, things don’t always go as planned, some things can’t be predicted. We don’t have to like that things happened the way they did but we can not progress forward if we are stuck on the fact that the event happened. Don’t spend all your time and energy fighting the why. Time and energy are precious commodities ensure you are using them wisely.


In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Cathy McKinnon.

Cathy McKinnon, 3x#1 International Best Selling Author , Transformation Coach, and Founder of Wellness Warrior Coaching.

As a Transformation Strategist, Cathy helps serves women who know deep down they are meant for more and they are ready to take the steps to start embodying that version of themselves. As a heart lead entrepreneur her coaching container walks along side these incredible women helping them gain clarity on the major facets of their life and start stepping into the gifts, confidence and magic they were born to share with the world!

Her coaching leaves women with confidence, growth, and healing so they can more effectively lead themselves, their families, their organizations …while thinking big.

This is the journey of gratitude and ambition!


Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

Thank you so much for having me, always an honor to share!! My “backstory” is a bit of a typical path, I went to college got my degree, dove into Corporate America, got married and then the desire to start a family. The prescribed path , right?

August 2008 changed everything not just for my career but for my life! That is when I first heard the word cancer and two weeks later was let go from my job. It was the beginning of a domino effect of events in life that lead me to where I am today.

In the last three years, my story has become beyond words. I’ve co-authored three books, spoke at virtual summits, been interviewed on Podcasts, traveled the world with my son, and got to help him bring his first book to life!

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

One piece of my career that many do not know is that I was told 3 times my job was being eliminated. I’ve had to shift gears and overcome the not knowing what was next. I’ve taken roles in areas of organizations that were outside of my wheelhouse where I not only gained knowledge on new areas of the business but demonstrated my adaptability and strategic mindset. I went to job interviews two weeks after cancer surgery, when I was not yet supposed to be driving and wearing a scarf to the interviews to hide the fresh markings from surgery. It was through those moments that created some of the greatest future experiences of my career. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with my career or my health, yet I knew I was going to play the cards as best I could

The greatest takeaway from each instance was that there was something greater coming, something that brought me more joy, brought me close to the life I truly wanted. It was creating stepping stones to gain knowledge, experiences and creating the most amazing network to propel me forward.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Wellness Warrior Coaching stands out because we are a heart led company, founded on servant leadership with fundamental roots in helping others through a holistic approach. A fundamental understanding that we align our clients with their gifts and magic that we all succeed. The ripple effect that occurs when people operate in their zone of genius is felt not only by those immediately around them but shifts the world one person at a time leaving a ripple effect of legacy.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I believe the greatest lessons learned are from those that maybe you wouldn’t expect. The most meaningful, deep lessons I learned were not from any boss, coach, or teacher but rather from my grandmother who taught me some incredible heartfelt life lessons. The core values she instilled are still the fundamental approach to my life and work today. We had a very special bond in that despite the generational differences we had similar ambition and views.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience doesn’t mean that you don’t get knocked down, it’s that you get back up afterwards. Resilience is thriving not just surviving.

Resilience is your ability to grow from adverse situations.

Resilient people have a unique blend of grit, strength, ambition, and growth mindset. These people want more, they push for more, they know there are infinite possibilities. Resilient people have the ability to adjust their path while never disregarding their goals and vision.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

Brene Brown has shared some of the most insightful things about resilience. Her teachings are so deep and so real. Her ability to recognize that truly deep down we are much more resilient than we give ourselves credit for.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

Honestly there has been more than one person in my life who has told me something was impossible or would not work. I’ve been told that as recently as last month. Reality is I find ways to bring my visions to life despite what others say. Maybe I switch lanes or paths however the purpose doesn’t change; the overall vision doesn’t change.

The one example that sticks out in my mind was when I was 17 years old and a family member told me that I would never go to college , never make something of myself, and I would be a nobody. I can still hear the words like it was yesterday. This spoke to the person’s fear of the unconventional path I wanted to take, they were not comfortable with change while I saw a path ahead of me filled with incredible experiences and opportunities!

Not everyone will understand our path, they do not have to as it is ours to pave.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

That is the basis of how my coaching business was built! I took the stones that were thrown at me, that were intended to break me and utilized them to build something to create change!

Things that were meant to destroy me or have me settling for mediocre fueled me to push for more, to go all in. I always knew there was more to life. It is just as I told the surgeon when he told me I needed immediate surgery to remove the cancer, “I’m not done yet”. I wasn’t done living then and I’m not done living now; pushing for more incredible moments.

In less than 10 years I had several medical setbacks including cancer along with a divorce. I took the opportunity to create a fresh start for my son and I. To say now we have the opportunity to create the life we want. I took the clean slate and said from today on we are going to do this our way- with smiles, with joy, with laughter- we are creating the life of our dreams.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

For me growing up in a house of boys, holding my own truly built a resiliency that I didn’t necessarily appreciate until later in life. There was no being the spoiled princess in my household, it was a get out there and play with your brothers. It was learning to be resourceful to get where I wanted to go. When I was hit with back to back events that could have knocked me over- losing my job, cancer, infertility, my position getting eliminated, divorce- I was able to tap into this skill set and calmly see the path that I knew I had to take.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

1.) Accept- we have to accept that things happen. Life events happen, things don’t always go as planned, some things can’t be predicted. We don’t have to like that things happened the way they did but we can not progress forward if we are stuck on the fact that the event happened. Don’t spend all your time and energy fighting the why. Time and energy are precious commodities ensure you are using them wisely.

I couldn’t have predicted that I would be let go from my job two weeks after my cancer diagnosis, I couldn’t understand how this fit into the master plan. However, it allowed me time to work through my treatments and ended up putting me on a career path where I had incredible experiences and created an amazing network around the globe.

2.) Trust- Trust your intuition and heart. Stop debating with your inner voice and lean in leading yourself. You know yourself, your vision and your abilities better than you give yourself credit for. The majority of decisions we make in life we have the opportunity to step back before responding. This culture that has us thinking everything needs an immediate response is just not true. Take a minute and tune in to your intuition.

In the most challenging times in my career, I’ve responded with a calmness. While of course the news of my role being eliminated while juggling being a single mom is not an ideal scenario; I knew that this was taking me on the path that was meant to be. I knew that the path that was being created would put me where I needed to be in a role that would be an example of how my skill set could help an organization grow.

3.) Stepback- Stepback and see the big picture, how does this fit into your why, your purpose. It can be challenging to see the big picture when you are bogged down in the details. While of course our initial reaction is an emotional one, when we can set aside the emotion and view it from the big picture you will be able to navigate more clearly.

4.) Pokerface- there are moments we have to play the heck out of the hand we have been dealt even if it’s not a winning hand. Walk in with the confidence as if you have the best hand at the table. Play the heck out of the cards. We don’t and won’t always have the answers however we can approach it with the mindset that what is meant to be will be.

It is not always about being the smartest in the room, its listening, its observing and its creating a winning strategy. I’ve often been told I’m not the most vocal in meetings however that does not mean that I do not see, hear, or understand. Leadership is energy, how you walk through the fire will determine the other side.

5.) Learn- Through it all, think about the person you are becoming, the lessons it is teaching you and how years from now you will speak of these experiences and times. How will you describe them to your children/grandchildren? How long after you are gone will they speak of how you lead yourself and others through challenging times?

I have learned so much from the storms that I have encountered. I’ve learned what I want and do not want in my life, what I stand for, the types of people I want in my life. When you gain a higher level understanding of your values, boundaries and the legacy you want to leave you embody that with gratitude and only look at the past as a place of reference. Maybe I have not taken a traditional path, however I have chosen to lead myself through the storms with my head held high. I walk with gratitude and ambition for this life and where I am going.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Being a good human! Helping and supporting each other! There is infinite abundance in the world, there is no reason not to help each other succeed! The greatest question you can ask daily is “ how can I serve today?” Hiding your gifts and magic from the world does no justice, together we can all make an impact! Lead with heart and support each other!

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I would have to go back to Brene Brown! Her wisdom and insight are so powerful in addressing the human factor in not only being brave but also allowing yourself grace to work through the emotions. We are not robots, we are humans and we have to allow ourselves and those around us to be human. Understanding and connecting on a deeper level will truly bring us all closer together to help us all rise.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

www.instagram.com/wellnesswarriorcoaching

www.facebook.com/wellnesswarriorcoaching

Clubhouse: cathymckinnon

www.linkedin.com/in/cathy-mckinnon

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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