Who is your all-time favorite superhero? If you can choose one superhero power and use it, what would it be? What do you like about that superhero? What is it about them that you love? Imagine your favorite superhero has a new movie out; you will definitely watch it. Even if we look into the biographies of our role models in real life, we can identify some of the qualities that we wish we have for us to be like them. We all love living the stories of success and outstanding achievements through the heroes we look up to, but more often than not, when it comes to our own lives, we fear failure and thus choose the road “well” traveled as it is safer and more secure.
Do you recall a situation where you wanted to do something, but the fear of failure or insecurity, or self-doubt overruled your decision and made you hesitant? You probably wished, secretly in your head without others hearing your thoughts, that you were less insecure, that you were stronger, wiser, or even being your own superhero or role model, whom you are sure would have handled the situation differently and took the challenge head-on. Well, one way or another, we all went through this, and to some, this was motivational enough to take action by adapting into the persona of this role model and acting as if you are them. This is called the Alter Ego effect, where your alternative persona comes out and takes charge. Sounds familiar? Think of Clark Kent, that goofy, clumsy reporter who can’t hold a pencil straight in his hand and stumbles on every other word he says. Yet, when he needed to save the world, he was a whole new persona, entering a phonebooth to change into the hero character, Kal-EI from the Planet Krypton. In this case, the actual character is Kal-El, and Clark uses Kal-EI as his alter ego persona to fit into the earthly world. Just in case, you know Kal-EI as Superman.
But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Clark is the real person, and Superman is the Alter Ego. Clark realized that to save the world and be the hero everyone looks up to; he needed to be someone else, other than Clark, he needed to be Superman. When you are in such a situation and need an alter ego, ask yourself, what would so and so [think of your role model] do in such a situation. Asking yourself this question will help you identify the suitable skill set needed for the job.
In reality, it is never straightforward, and we all have layers of who we are that we use differently depending on what we are doing or want to do and the “fields of play.” It’s more about what parts of ourselves we put forward and what parts we keep on the backburner. The character/persona we use with our families at home differs from the one we employ in the office in a more formal environment and vice versa. Sometimes, we find it hard to adapt to some of the characteristics from one environment to another, as we feel it’s too hard or will not work. I, for one, consider myself very objective at work and never take things personally, wherein my personal life, I used to not able to do that, and sometimes get affected personally much easier than at work. I have worked on myself and improved on this front, but I am still not as objective as the “me” at work.
In the book “The Alter Ego Effect,” the author talks about the idea of having an alter ego and how does that if managed well, can help you achieve your best results and tackle life challenges. However, it would be best if you started with the end in mind. Have your ambitions, goals, or expected target/outcome clearly set, and then work backward from there, laying down the plan for reaching your goals and what emotions, skills, beliefs, and characteristics you need to be equipped with for the occasion. Then be aware of the alter ego persona required to serve your plan.
The book also talks about some hidden forces that might work against your alter ego, preventing it from showing up, and you need to have strong self-awareness and realization to be ready to stop those forces.
- Lack of self-confidence
- Being too emotional
- Being insecure or doubting your abilities
- And the worst of all, the imposter syndrome, where deep inside you don’t believe in yourself and never take anything you do seriously, in which case you will not see any results
Having a clear mission in your life creates a strong sense of purpose, and that helps you find your perfect alter ego character for the occasion and use it the right way. The stronger your belief in your mission, the easier it is to adapt to the alter ego needed. The book talks about the famous Beyonce, a quiet and shy person in real life, but she had a strong belief in what she wanted to become, so she had to invent an alter ego persona to help her be the Beyonce we all know. Her alter ego character’s name was Sasha Fierce. In her own words, “I’ve created an alter ego: things I do when performing I would never do normally. I reveal things about myself that I wouldn’t do in an interview. I have out-of-body experiences [on stage]. If I cut my leg, if I fall, I don’t even feel it. I’m so fearless; I’m not aware of my face or my body.” Beyonce, Marie Claire interview, October 2008.
So who is your alter ego character? If you never thought about it, now it’s the time to do so. Define the character, using a superhero character, a role model from your life, an athlete, a public figure, whoever it is, define that persona in every detail and learn it well, as if you are playing their role on stage. It’s not the real you, it’s who you want to be on when you are game, and before you say it, no, you are not being a hypocrite or pretending to be someone you are not. You are adapting into a better version of yourself to get the job done, and if that means entering a phonebooth to wear a cape or adjusting the characteristics of your role model on stage to deliver, so be it. Rest assured that whatever persona you are putting out there is not coming from an external world; rather, it was there inside you all along, just waiting for the right moment to get up on stage.
So who is your Sasha Fierce?
- The Alter Ego Effect, by Todd Herman