A Mindset That Overcomes Physical Limits
Michael surprised everyone with his love of sports and active life, despite a disabling condition. “My parents saw that I was going to try everything.” At 16, a coach offered him an opportunity to coach tennis that made perfect sense. “It was an easy choice for me to take that road.”
Michael McDonnell has gone from managing cystic fibrosis and diabetes to using the lessons learned to run several businesses. He now helps people with their mindset and strategies to leave their job and run their own businesses full-time.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“When I was younger, I think my health challenges impacted my parents more than me. I didn’t really know any different. They saw that I was going to try everything. When I was diagnosed, cystic fibrosis was not something everybody knew about, and there was not a lot of research going on. My doctors said exercise helps. So, I started doing martial arts in primary school, playing football and racing a lot during recess and breaks. I had a very active childhood. Because of my condition, I do not think people realized I would actually enjoy being so active, and I actually did do a lot, even with my condition.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“I started coaching when I was 16. I had been playing different sports since I was six or seven. I moved toward basketball, then tennis. Eventually, my coach asked me, ‘Do you want to be a coach? You’re reasonably good. You’re not old enough yet to have enough experience to be a really good tennis coach. But that’s something you can learn, something you can get better at.’ It was an opportunity that matched up with what I had been doing all my life. It also benefited me in terms of my health—playing tennis three or four times a week, keeping myself fit, mobile and agile.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“I am able to see that people have complex problems and I can be empathetic to people and understand their situations. Then I’m able to help them come up with a solution that’s potentially simpler than they thought. My ability to do that has come from the clarity of my thinking and the way that I think. I realize that I can see things from a different perspective than most people. Because I am different in some ways, it allows me to be different in ways that actually benefit other people.”
Steps to Success from Michael McDonnell
1. Find people who like and accept you for who you are.
2. Before taking a big leap, plan a way you can pull yourself back if it’s not working out. Mentally, give yourself a rope.
3. See how the things that make you different can give you a unique point of view. Your differences can work to your advantage.
4. Make plans that are viable, realistic and doable through the clarity of your thinking.
5. If a challenge seems impossible, let yourself see your way through the challenge first, then find ways to experiment with a variety of approaches.
Connecting With Michael McDonnell
Facebook: The Lion’s Den with Mike
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Careers: Mindfulness Coach, Sports Coach