Deep down we all want to believe this is true, especially on our worst days. But our culture wages war against this thought, grinding down our hearts through a war of attrition. Every. Single. Day. 

Character. Integrity. Abiding in Christ. We know these are crucial, but they can get passed over in our fast, success-driven, navel-gazing culture. We can’t measure them, so they drift away in our daily routines. Many leaders step into leadership coaching with our team to reorient from chasing the WHAT to cultivating the WHO. And it’s an honor to come along on that journey with them. 

A common analogy for leaders is the front stage and the backstage. The front stage positions us where others see our lives. We’re influencing, shaping, even performing in these spaces. But the more important, and often neglected, interior life is unfolding backstage. Our family and close friends get to see this reflection of us. It’s a beautiful thing when the front stage and back stage are congruent, and it’s a dangerous thing when they don’t. 

Scripture is clear that who we are matters more than what we do (but, of course, what we do should begin to align with who we are). Ephesians says we are God’s workmanship (think poem, song, painting) before we have work to do. Jesus describes a healthy tree that bears healthy fruit because it has healthy roots. Our identity as daughters and sons is more important than our impact as leaders. 

Who before what. 

Workmanship before works.

Roots before fruits.

Identity before impact.

This is the thread woven into everything we do at Stay Forth. This is why we care about leaders getting healthy first, then reaching more impact. We see the opposite all too often. I bet this resonates with you, maybe it even feels like fresh water to your soul. We even help coaching clients hone their identity goals, not just their impact goals. These are things like being people of prayer, emotionally-available parents, caring spouses, servant-hearted friends and growing disciples. These rarely make it onto our list of annual goals or get talked about in our annual reviews, but they are crucial to everything we do. 

If we get the order reversed and try to do things for God so He will be pleased with us we end up trying to perform for God in order to earn his love. The beautiful reality is we already have his love. We work from our identity, not for it. 

So, what are some practical ways to cultivate who I am?

Make space for more healthy inputs than outputs in your life (people, content, silence)

Regularly gather with people who are unimpressed with you (no need for performing with them)

Do the tough, deep inward work (counseling, spiritual direction and coaching)

Slow down your pace daily and sabbath weekly (enabling gratitude and reflection)

 Intentionally self reflect (like the Big Picture questions in the Right Side up Journal)

Resources to consult

We have created a tool called the Growth Game Plan that allows you to create identity goals (WHO goals) and impact goals (WHAT goals) as a diagram of roots and fruits. Email us at and we’ll send this to you for free. 

Questions to ask 

What identity goals (WHO goals) do I need to cultivate? 

What steps must I take to move toward this identity goals? 

alan briggs

alan briggs

Director of Culture and Coaching

Alan is a mountain guide for the leadership journey. He loves outdoor adventures, but the greatest adventure of his being a father and husband. Alan is crazy about helping hungry leaders conquer overwhelm and navigate with courage. He serves leaders and organizations around the country through coaching, speaking, consulting, designing experiences, hosting mastermind groups, writing his own books and ghostwriting for others. He co-hosts Right Side up Leadership Podcast and regularly writes for Outreach and Field Notes .