In 2003, Beyonce Knowles-Carter felt shy about performing sultry lyrics and dance routines on stage. She needed a tactic to overcome her nerves and stage fright. So she created an alter ego, Sasha Fierce, to bring out her more assertive side.
Beyonce is one of many top performers — along with other top artists, athletes, executives, speakers, investors, bankers, lawyers, negotiators, and more — who use alter egos as a tactic to overcome their insecurities and become better versions of themselves.
Today’s podcast guest, Todd Herman, is an expert at the practice of creating alter egos to improve your performance in any arena of life. He says that crafting an alter ego can help you become a better worker, leader, manager, investor, and even a better parent.
Todd joins us on today’s podcast to describe the “why” and “how” of creating an alter ego at work, at home, and in social settings.
Here are six takeaways from our conversation:
#1: Embracing an alter ego is natural.
When we’re children, we wear capes and pretend to be Superman and leap off the couch. When we reach adulthood, though, we forget that we used to imagine and embody other characters all the time.
Creative imagination is our superpower. It allows us to project ourselves into new personas, and shatter our own limiting beliefs about ourselves.
Reconnecting with our imagination can help us become unblocked, overcome fear, and get out of our own way.
“I” may not be able to perform this scary task, but Superman can. Sasha Fierce can. A jaguar or cheetah can.
#2: The alter ego effect is a tactic that helps you find role models and ask yourself, “what would that person do?”
But this tactic stretches beyond that. Rather than viewing a role model from the outside, the tactic of embodying an alter ego helps you find that aspect of that person within you.
Todd, for example, is a relatively new father. He says that when his young daughter throws a tantrum, he embraces his “inner Mr. Rogers.” Rather than fighting fire with fire, or responding with challenge and aggression, he imagines himself as Mr. Rogers and interacts with his daughter accordingly. He softens. He hugs instead of yells. Finding his “inner Mr. Rogers” allows him to bring out better qualities within himself.
#3: The bridge between thought and action is emotion.
And the stories we tell ourselves create a vivid emotional response.
Embracing an alter ego is a way to deeply internalize a story, and therefore feel powerful emotion around that story. When we feel that strong emotion, we act and react differently.
#4: You’ve already got what it takes.
The tactic of using an alter ego is not about being someone else; it’s about drawing out and amplifying the best parts of you.
#5: The alter ego is a private matter.
It’s not something you announce to others; in fact, the purpose is to remove judgments and insecurities that are triggered by others.
#6: If you’re looking for idea validation from others, don’t.
Stop asking the outside world to validate your dreams, goals and ideas. You might not get the validation you’re seeking, and doubt is contagious.
If you want to protect an idea, therefore, keep it to yourself until both the idea and your mental framework are strong enough to withstand the storm of doubts that are presented from the outside world.
Todd Herman and I discuss these ideas and more in today’s podcast episode. Enjoy!
- The Alter Ego Effect, by Todd Herman
- Afford Anything Facebook Community
- Episode #138 – How to Create an Authentic Life
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