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One of the people I recently coached was someone who was struggling with his job and moving up the organizational ladder. He was having trouble with the way he was able to be successful and move ahead, and was not being rewarded by those who had the power to promote him.

One of the important concepts that I explained to him was the difference between what you do and who you are. What you do in your life is very results-oriented and will ultimately determine the results that you get. On the other hand, who you are is determined by what you think.

Most of us spend much more time on deciding what job we want than on who we want to be. Tune in to learn about the importance of realizing the distinction between who we are and what we do and how focusing on who you are can ultimately determine your level of success and happiness.

What you will discover

  • The difference between what you do and who you are.
  • The importance of figuring out who you want to be rather than what you want to do.
  • Why you should be mind-focused and not just results-focused.
  • 13 things mentally-strong people don’t do.

Featured on the show

Episode Transcript

Welcome to The Life Coach School Podcast, where it's all about real clients, real problems, and real coaching. Now your host, Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo.

Hello! Hello! Hello! Did you miss me? It's been a whole week. I missed you terribly. We have sold out our March training. I am so excited for this training. I cannot believe how many kick ass, amazing women we have coming to this training. It's going to be a life changing experience. I know for the people that are coming it's going to be life changing, and I know for me it's going to be life changing. I love to change it up, and to experience these sorts of things with like-minded people, and I cannot wait.

If you're interested in doing a life coach weight coach training with me, our next one's in June. So come on over to the site,, and check it. We would love to have you come to Cali and hang with us.

All right, today we are going to talk about the concept of what you do versus who you are. Now, the reason we're doing this is because I recently coached someone on my public coaching call, which happens every other week. If you haven't checked that out, come on now! Come on over to, and register for our public coaching call. It's absolutely free. You can get coached. You can listen to coaching. We have a good time over there.

Anyway, one of the people that I coached was someone struggling with his job, and trying to find a way to move ahead in the organization, and was struggling with the way that he was able to be successful and move ahead, was not being rewarded by the people that had the power to promote him. His personality and how he was approaching things were getting him the numbered results that he wanted, but he wasn't able to get the promotions.

We talked a lot about his behavior, and how he was showing up at work, and who he was. One of the things that I explained to him, that's a really important concept, is the difference between what you do and who you are. It's a concept that I really understood in a way, in like a really deep way, I would say about twelve years ago.

I read a book called, Now What, by a woman named Laura Berman Fortgang, and she talks about changing direction in your life. I don't remember most of the book because I read it a long time ago, but I do remember one distinction that she made for me, that blew my mind. The distinction she made was, "What is the difference between what you do for a living and who you get to be?"

I think the person that first introduced me to this concept was Marianne Williamson, because she was working with a lot of people who were wanting to be like her. They were wanting to be speakers, and they were wanting to have a following. She was basically saying, "It is not about how many people are in your audience, and who knows your name, but about who you are to yourself."

I think those two teachers, Laura and Marianne, taught kind of in a similar way. That concept, to me, really blew my mind. I started thinking about careers in that way. I started thinking about, no matter what job I do, I get to show up as me. I get to be me. I get to act like me, however that is. Success isn't something that I'm going to be given from a job; it's something that I am. I am successful. It doesn't matter which job you put me in, I will be there, and I will be successful.

It clicked in a way that has served me for the rest of my life. Because not only has that been true in all the jobs and situations that I've been in, I'm a successful person so I'm successful in my jobs. The jobs don't determine that. But I've also taken that into many other areas in my life. I can decide this is the kind of person that I am, so these are the experiences that I'm going to have as this person. Not as where I am in terms of the place, or where I am in terms of the people, but who I am.

I used to teach, a lot, this to my clients because they would say, "Well, I don't want to go to the party because the party's not going to be fun." It's like, but the party doesn't have to be fun, you just have to be fun. Right? It doesn't matter where you are. Where you go. You get to create the funness, and you get to decide wherever you are, you're going to have a good time.

This concept, and I've talked about this throughout the podcast, but the way to really differentiate it here is important. Because when you think about your career, and you think about why you're in your career, and this was something that I was talking about to my client, and the methods he was using to get ahead, I was asking him is that who you want to be in your life? Is that who you want to be seen as, as a person? Or are you willing to do whatever it takes to be successful, thinking that that's what you do, and that's separate from who you are. When you integrate those, then you get to take the best part of who you are everywhere. That's why you don't have to leave a job in order to be who you are. You don't have to have a big audience, or a big following, or be famous, to be who you are. You're just going to be you regardless. Nothing out there determines who you are.

It's a concept that I want to teach to you all, especially those of you who are trying to figure out who you are still. Can we all raise our hand? Who are we? We're trying to find ourselves, and find our purpose, out there somewhere. We're trying to look into our boss' eyes, or we're trying to look into our lover's eyes, or our kid's eyes, to find out who we are. We're looking at their opinions and what they think, and then we get to decide who we are. Instead of being who we are, deciding who we are, and taking that to wherever we happen to go.

The way that I like to think about it is what you do in your life is very results-oriented. Right? The career that you have, and the things that you do on a daily basis, your actions, that's going to determine the results that you get. But who you are is determined by what you think. Now, ultimately what you think will determine your actions. But if you're taking actions from a negative place that may not be coming from the person that you want to be.

For example, if the result you want is to get a promotion, and the action that you're taking is pushing yourself, and working really long hours, and not really taking care of yourself, you may get the result you want, but you may not be being true to who you really are. Does that make sense? You can still have the results of being successful, but you have to identify yourself as successful, not the result as determining that for you.

Think about that in terms of your relationships. Instead of asking yourself, "What do I want my relationship to be like? What do I want my marriage to be like? What do I want my future husband, or my future boyfriend to be like?" Ask yourself, "Who do I want to be in the relationship? Who do I want to be in all of my relationships?"

Really think about that. What kind of person do you want to be, regardless of what the other person does? Who do you want to be in your career, regardless of what job you have? How do you want to show up? How do you want to act? Who do you want to be in your friendships? Who do you want to be in your family life? Who do you want to be in your body, regardless of what body you have, and the body you've been given, the characteristics of your body? Who do you want to be within that body?

That question, that distinction between who you are and what you do can change everything. Because if you focus on who you are, it ultimately will determine what you do. Right? Ultimately in your life. But if you're looking outside of you, at what you do, to figure out who you are, you're going to struggle constantly because you're going to be only results focused instead of mind focused.

Now, there's this book that I picked it up in the airport. I was going to see my coach a couple of months ago, and in the airport, I saw the name of this book. It was 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do. It kind of brought this up for me. Right? Is the fact that they don't do it determining who they are? Or is who they are determining what they don't do?

I want you to think about this first one, and I'm going to go through all of them. The name of the book, and it's written by Amy Morin, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success. Of course I had to pick that up. Anything that says, "Train your brain," I'm in!

The book is good, but I think the best parts of the book are the thirteen things. I want to go over the thirteen things, and then I want to talk about your identity and the way that you want to be in the world versus just thinking about what you want to do. Okay? Who you want to be versus what you want to do.

First thing is, they don't waste time feeling sorry for themselves. Woooo! They don't waste time feeling sorry for themselves. What kind of person is the kind of person that doesn't feel sorry for themselves? Right? What does that mean? They don't waste energy or time feeling sorry for themselves.

I love this one because, honestly, what is the upside of feeling sorry for yourself? What do you gain by feeling sorry for yourself? All you do is take all your power away because by having to think thoughts of, "Oh, poor me, poor me, poor me" you're basically taking away your own power. Your own creative energy to solve your problems. Right? You're thinking that your life should be different than it is, so you're arguing with reality. Okay? If you're the kind of person that doesn't feel sorry for themselves, it doesn't matter what happens, you don't ever have to feel self pity. I think that's a magical thing.

Okay, the next one. They don't give away their power. Right? We've talked a lot about this on this podcast. By blaming other people, we give away our power. By expecting other people to make us feel better, we give away our power. By letting someone else make decisions for us, we give away our power.

The third one, they don't shy away from change. All right. We just talked about this in episode 47. Right? We talked about that change requires effort. It requires brain power and brain effort, and that's why most people don't like change. But if you have a handle on your brain, and you're able to manage your emotional life, you won't shy away from change, especially the change that helps evolve you into the next best version of yourself.

Number four, they don't focus on things they can't control. Now, one of the things I've been teaching you all along, throughout this whole process, is that the only things you can't control is circumstances. Most things are thoughts, right? Most things aren't circumstances. Most things are thoughts. You don't focus on the things you can't control, which are circumstances, but you can focus on your thoughts, and change those.

Five, they don't worry about pleasing everyone. Oh, it's so good, right? They don't worry about pleasing everyone, because usually when you're spending your energy pleasing everybody else, you don't please yourself. You don't take care of yourself, and you don't follow your own guidance, because you're so busy trying to please everyone else.

As you know, I call people pleasers liars. People try and please everybody else. Right? They try and take care of everybody else, so those people will feel a certain way about them. They basically lie about things they want to do, or don't do, and they end up feeling resentful, in hopes that those other people will like them. Okay? That's why I call it liars, and I'm really kind of strong about it, because I think it's important to recognize that it is a manipulation. You're not being authentic, and you're out of integrity, when you tell someone that you will take care of them, and that you're happy to do something for them, when you really genuinely don't want to.

Number six, they don't fear taking calculated risks. Okay. They're not afraid. I think about myself as this kind of person, right? The worst thing that can happen is a feeling. I'm willing, if it's a well thought out risk, I'm willing to take that chance because the worst that can happen is a feeling. I'm willing to evolve myself by trying new things, and taking risks, and challenging myself.

Number seven, they don't dwell on the past. Now this one's very similar to, they don't worry about things they can't change, right? They don't dwell on the past, and they don't think about it in a way that causes them to feel negative emotion. Remember what we talked about. When you think about the past, you're not literally thinking about the past. You're thinking a current thought about something that happened in the past, but it's a current thinking. You're telling a story. A current, present story, about your past. You're not really going to old thoughts. You're creating new ones to tell the story. If you're creating new thoughts that are telling stories that are causing you pain, that is not serving you in your life. Dwelling on the past, and arguing with the past, does not serve you.

Number eight, they don't make the same mistakes over, and over, and over again. Okay? They learn from their mistakes. I think the reason why mentally tough people don't keep making the same mistakes, over and over again, is because they're paying attention. How many times do I tell you that? Like, awareness, and attention, and noticing your patterns, and noticing your thoughts, and noticing what happens, and why it happens, and looking at the cause behind everything. That's going to take you out of that auto pilot. That's going to take you out of the continuous repetition of making the same mistakes over, and over, and over again.

Number nine, they don't resent other people's success. Oh, that's so good! Right? Because they don't make other people's success about them. They don't make it mean anything negative about them. When they think about other people's success, it inspires them, because it brings up abundance and feelings of excitement. When you see someone getting an opportunity that maybe you didn't get, do you use that as a way to feel bad about yourself? Or do you use that as a way to inspire you to be more than you are?

I love the idea that I don't really get jealous. I love the idea that I don't really resent other people's success. It's the kind of person I am. Right? Not just something I do, but the kind of person I am. What kind of person are you? Are you able to look at someone else winning the lottery, and be super happy for them? Or do you come from a scarcity mentality and think, "Wow that means there's less for me?"

Number ten, they don't give up after the first failure. I love that, the first failure. Most of us aren't even willing to fail once, but mentally tough people, mentally strong people, don't give up after the first failure, and maybe not even the second, and maybe not even the fifth failure. Right? We keep, keep at it. I am a person that is not deterred by failure. Is that the kind of person that you want to be?

Number eleven, they don't fear alone time. Now, I've told you guys this a lot. Most people that tell me they don't like to be alone, what they're really saying is they don't like to be alone with their own thoughts. Or they get bored. Right? Because they don't like their own company. Someone that is mentally aware, that is taking care of their mind, is taking care of their brain, and being creative with their thinking, is probably really going to enjoy their own company, because they will enjoy their own mind, and the opportunity to pay attention to it, and to think. They're not looking outside of themselves to be filled up. All they have to do is look within.

Number twelve, they don't feel the world owes them anything. I love this one. I get, you know, so many times I find myself slipping into some kind of entitlement. Or watching my clients slip into some kind of entitlement, like, "I'm owed something" from the world or from somebody else. I think that's one of the worst feelings in the world, because you're giving away all your power to someone else, to give them what they owe you. Right? But also, it leaves you in a space of feeling like you're not able to take care of whatever it is you're wanting to be owed.

It's interesting, Chris and I, my husband and I, we made a decision a long time ago never to lend anyone money. You know, if we want to give someone money, we give it and that's it. We don't ever want people to owe us anything, because we don't want to feel that scarcity, that depletion. We want always to feel abundant, and not owed to. I think that's a really important one to think about. Do you feel like people owe you, and is that the kind of person you want to be?

The last one is, they don't expect immediate results. Oh, that's so hard. I want all my results to be immediate. I want to do something and then I want the result to be there. But, and I think as you get older, I think it's really easier to recognize that consistency produces long term results, instead of that immediate gratification. But I do think we're also trained that want immediate gratification by so much of the marketing that's out there, that promises that quick fix. We want that quick fix. We want that quick hit of pleasure. We want our results to be immediate. We don't want to have to fail multiple times, and we certainly don't want to have to feel negative emotion. But are you someone that can work consistently towards the result that you most want?

All of these components, I think, are made up of who you want to be, and who you are. If you are this type of person, with all of these characteristics, and I'm not saying you have to have all of them, it's just curious to me, if you have all of them, can you see how when you go into any situation, it doesn't matter what the job is, the relationship it is, the situation, the number of people, the group. You are going to be who you are, and you are not defined by what you do. Certainly not what you do for a living. I mean, I think so many times people will ask us what we do, and then define us, or try and define us, by our career. But really, the way that we need to define ourselves is by who we are. Yes, that may determine our career, but it doesn't have to. We can still be who we are at our core, no matter where we are.

Ultimately what we have to do is decide who we are. Most of us spend much more time deciding what job we want versus who we want to be. I want you to think about this difference for you. I want you to think about, how do you define yourself? Do any of these characteristics apply to you? Would you consider yourself a mentally strong person? Is that how you would define yourself? Or are you getting tripped up trying to define yourself by something external, something outside of you? By how much money you make? By something that you're doing in the world? Can you notice how when you focus on who you are versus what you do, you get so much more empowerment? You get so much more control over who you are, and how to determine what you're going to do based on who you are.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments. You go to Tell me, do you think there's a distinction between what you do, and who you are, and why. I will see you there, and I will also talk to you all next week. Until then, bye, bye.

Thank you for listening to The Life Coach School podcast. It would be incredibly awesome if you would take a moment to write a quick review on ITunes. For any questions, comments, or coaching issues you would like to hear on the show, please visit us at

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