Mike O'Connell

The Backstage Upgrade: Aligning your Private Life and Public Persona


The Backstage Upgrade: Aligning your Private Life and Public Persona

We live in an image conscious society and therefore, many of us put in a lot of effort to make sure everything that is on display (our public life) looks great. However, we do not make a similar effort to upgrade what others do not see; the behind the scenes private life.
Many leaders have a shiny public persona. They (seemingly) got it all together; Beautiful spouses and kids, an enviable lifestyle with material trappings, a thriving business or ministry, a shiny career, and a large following.
Many have written excellent books, conducted ground-breaking research or worked with a huge number of people through their products and services.
However, for many of these leaders, not everything is as it seems.
The difficult truth is; You cannot keep your public and private life separate. Compartmentalisation is not truly achievable.
You may be able to keep your private dealings private for a time, however, more often than not, this is not sustainable. This is especially true if your private life is not in alignment with your carefully cultivated public persona.
How often do we hear of secret love children, saucy affairs, sexual (and other harassment) claims, bullying, financial impropriety, and other non stellar dealings?

Understanding your public and private life

What you are in public is your reputation; how people think of you or what people think you are. Who you are in your private lives, is your character. This is the REAL you.
In Matthew 12:34, Jesus states that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
We see this reiterated in Luke 6:45: A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
This means that we can only speak and do publicly what we feel, believe, and practice privately in our hearts.
How can we align our private lives to authentically flow out to our public lives?
In this article, we will explore a few actionable ways in which we can align our private values, goals, purpose and actions with our public personas. We call it: A backstage upgrade.

How to get a backstage upgrade

Identify your values

What are the important things to you beyond the basic needs of life? Is it your career, family, honesty, kindness?
Identifying our values helps us to live within them. You cannot live by what you don’t know.
Our values are what we stand for. Values help to direct our behavior, monitor our daily habits and guide us back when we lose our way.
Action: Write down what you feel are the most important things to you. Whether this is raising kind kids, spending time with your spouse, staying fit, and anything else you can think of. Group them into categories such as personal, family, other categories as you see fit. This will help you identify what is most important to you.


Set boundaries for yourself that you are comfortable with when it comes to public and private interactions, such as how much information you share publicly or who can access your private matters.
Develop boundaries between public and private life, including deciding when to make public activities public and when to keep them more personal.
Respecting your own privacy and honoring the limits of public interaction can help you remain in alignment with your values and purpose.
Action: Engage in public activities that are meaningful to you, such as volunteering or public speaking. This will help you stay connected to your values and purpose, even when engaging in public activities.


Allocating time to both public and private activities is important. Make sure to create a regular schedule that allows you to give each purposeful activity the attention it needs without burning out.
Make time for things that are important to you.
Schedule breaks throughout the day to help maintain balance between your public and private life. This could be as simple as making time for prayer, calling your spouse, reading a book, or taking a walk.
Make sure that public and private life don't conflict with each other by setting aside time for personal reflection and evaluation. This will allow you to assess the impact of public life on your private life and ensure that both are in alignment with your values and purpose.
Action: Make public events meaningful by being mindful of how you are spending time and energy in public life. Focus on activities that reflect your values and purpose, while also developing relationships with people who share the same core beliefs and principles as you.

Get support

No one can do it alone. You need people in your corner to help you along in your quest to align your public and private life.
Surround yourself with people who support your public and private goals.
  1. Your home life
They say “charity begins at home”. We cannot extend outwards what we are not cultivating within our homes.
How are you communicating and implementing your values within your home? Getting everyone on board helps you to pull in the same direction. When everyone knows what is expected of them, then it is easier to play their part.
However, do not force your goals and values on your family. When you authentically live in alignment privately and publicly, you set an example for everyone else to do the same.
Action: Sit down with your spouse and create a vision for your family. Get your kids on board. Let them know what you are working towards and how they can assist.
  1. Your work life
Your work life presents a good opportunity to shine in your private values. If honesty and kindness is important to you in your private life, bring in and emphasize the same qualities to your team. As a team leader, you have an opportunity to set the tone and shape the culture.
Additionally, be mindful of the messages you are sending out through public activities such as social media, public speaking or writing posts that reflect the values you practice in private and want to emphasize in your public life.
Action: Clearly communicate what you expect from your team and then intentionally embody those values and actions. Do not preach water and drink wine.

Be kind & gentle to yourself

Aligning your public life and private life takes a lot of effort. You will come up short on occasion. You may even fail at it often.
Keep going.
When you feel overwhelmed by all the tasks ahead, take a deep breath and remember that taking care of yourself is just as important as any other task you have. Prioritize self-care practices such as journaling and exercise to stay in balance.
Take time to reflect on public and private successes and failures so you can learn and grow.
Action: Stay mindful of how your public life affects private life by paying attention to how public activities influence thoughts or emotions when returning home. Did you have a stressful day at the office? Are you bringing the stress home in an unhealthy manner?

Final thoughts on aligning your public and private life

We all have areas in our lives where we are not fully in alignment. We may have our public image already polished but perhaps we have yet to learn how to make time for our kids, or we are constantly missing out on important private events that our loved ones are participating in.
We hope our action points can get you going on your way to more alignment.
I am available to work with leaders, executives and teams to assist them get in alignment and perform better in all areas of your life. I teach how to create and implement a vision for your family and how to let your authentic private self shine so it can light up your public life. Get in touch with me on mike@mikeoconnell.com