The question a former Marine uses to start mental-toughness coaching is harder to answer than it sounds


Business Insider

November 3, 2016

Mental toughness training with Andrew D. Wittman starts off with a deceptively difficult question.

“Who are you?”

It’s deceptively difficult because we’re asked versions of this question all the time — as in, “What do you do?” at a networking event. And we usually answer with, “I’m a journalist,” or “I’m a lawyer,” or “I’m an entrepreneur.”

But Wittman, who is a former Marine, police officer, and federal agent, and current mental toughness coach, is looking for something different.

“Those are all roles you play,” he told Business Insider when we spoke by phone in October. “What happens when you stop?”

In other words, if tomorrow you quit your job or were laid off, who would you be?

What Wittman wants to hear from clients is who they are on the inside. What are their strengths and what do they aspire to?

So he helps them devise an identity statement that reads: “I am a _____, who does _____.”

In his book, “Ground Zero Leadership: CEO of You” (available on Wittman’s website, but not on Amazon), Wittman outlines four steps to crafting your own identity statement:

1. Who do I want to be?

2. What are the internals by which I want to define myself?

3. What strength do I need to highlight?

4. What virtue do I aspire to?

It usually takes clients about three weeks to come up with an identity statement that’s true to them. From then on, Wittman said, every other choice they make in their lives must line up with the character they’ve outlined.

His personal identity statement is: “I am a man of excellence, who always keeps his word.”

Wittman’s exercise sounds similar to crafting a personal mission statement, a strategy popularized in Stephen Covey’s bestselling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” A personal mission statement, Covey wrote, should focus on what you want to be and do as well as your most important values.

“I aspire to always keep my word,” Wittman writes in the book. “No matter what. Even if it costs me, time, money or pain. That’s who I am.”



This article was written by Business Insider from Business Insider and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

There are 3 comments

  • Kenneth Speller - 11/21/2016 18:56
    I've taken one of Dr. Andrew Wittman's classes. Working with Andrew is a life changing experience. I highly recommend his Self-leadership training class.

  • Stephen Chawke - 11/17/2016 12:35
    A really thought provoking article. Enjoyed thinking about this. It reminded me of a leadership course I was once on where we were invited to pick and keep a photo from a gallery of hundreds of images, to illustrate our newly created personal 'mission statement'. That felt like a possbile build on this, as a visual accompaniment to your summary sentence. (in my case I chose a bunch of bananas - as a reminder of my belief in growing together, warm environments, sources of energy...and occasional comedy.)

  • Graeme Oliver - 11/11/2016 13:07
    Having made three career transitions from the Military to Independent Education and more recently to the NHS, the question of "who I am" became a very real conundrum to answer, especially during the periods between jobs. All too easy to say when you are in a role but very difficult to explain when you are looking to move to a new organisation. We all seem to think that we are what we do or the title of the appointment we currently hold but this is only "a transient image" and really knowing who or rather what you are is worth thinking about before you are the situation where you need to provide the answer, be it informally at a networking event or more importantly during interview.

Great ! Thanks for your subscription !

You will soon receive the first Content Loop Newsletter