Q: You have stages you’re already performing on and stages you might like to perform on, and my question is: Would you like to show up there as the heroic version of yourself?
-Todd Herman, The Alter Ego Effect
In the Alter Ego Effect, Todd Herman describes the science behind the power of “secret identities” to transform our lives. His perspective mirrors our call to journal and reflect daily on your Identities > Virtues > Behaviors for the Big 3 areas of your life (1. Energy, 2.Work/School, 3. Relationships/Teammates).
He shares that in his experience as a mental skills coach, the most effective strategy that leads to elite performance to be able to perform consistently is to develop an ‘alter ego’ that you can transform into to draw your powers and succeed. Herman writes, “Your Alter Ego is really about defining how you want to show up, defining the Superpowers, and borrowing the characteristics of an existing person, character, superhero, animal, or whatever to help Activate your Heroic Self.
This isn’t exactly a fake it until you make it technique. He continues, “This isn’t being fake. Pretending to know about particle physics when you don’t is fake. Using an Alter Ego to entertain a group of physics students when you have been a boring physics professor until now is just using the right tools for the job.”
So do you have an alter ego that you can call on to help you in each distinct area of your life?
To come with your identity, ask yourself:
What are triggers you can establish to cue yourself to “Flip the switch” and invite this identity to the party more often?
If you’re serious about becoming an elite performer, this process must become a priority! You must practice ‘flipping the switch’ and becoming your superhero identities. Every day. It will become 2nd nature! The tools to practice this are:
If you still need more convincing of the power of creating an Alter-Ego, consider the research:
“Well, the idea of using Alter Egos to create some distance between how you currently see yourself and how you’d like to perform is not only smart, it’s backed by research. A lot of my clients initially talk about how their Alter Egos protected them, only to later realize that their Alter Ego is actually who they always were and who they had always wanted to be.
This idea of creating distance between our identities is something that researchers are starting to validate. A recent University of Minnesota study of four- and six-year-old children found that to teach kids perseverance parents should teach children to pretend to be like Batman or another favorite character– because it creates psychological distance, the very thing my clients like Ian talk about, and what I’ve observed happens when people create alter egos.
The study split kids into three groups. The researchers put a toy in a locked glass box and gave the kids a ring of keys. The catch? No key work. The researchers wanted to see how to improve the children’s executive functioning skills and were interested in seeing how long they would try to unlock the box and what they would try. To help the kids, the researchers gave them what they called strategies. One strategy was to pretend to be Batman. The kids could even wear a cape! Dora the Explorer was a choice, too.
Researchers found that the kids who worked the longest were the ones who impersonated Batman or Dora, followed by children who just pretended, and, finally, the kids who remained in the first-person perspective. The kids impersonating Batman or Dora were flexible thinkers, they tried the most keys, and they were calmer. One four-year-old even said, ‘Batman never gets frustrated.’
The study shows us the power of identity–the power of how we see yourselves–and what happens when we, for a moment in time, can call forth a different self”.
I’m convinced! This results of this study corroborate Ellen Langer’s research in “Counterclockwise” where she proves that you can improve your vision by pretending you’re a pilot. Our mind are powerful. They are the most important tool we have. We must train them like we train our bodies if we want to take our performance to the next level.