EPISODE 58 — Todd Herman — The Alter Ego Effect: The Power of Secret Identities to Transform Your Life
Todd Herman is the founder of Upcoach and Herman Global Ventures, a best-selling author, and creator of the award-winning “90 Day Year” program for leadership and skills development. In over two decades of experience as a coach for elite athletes, executives, and entrepreneurs, he has developed a multitude of mental strategies to achieve peak performance, which he has used to help thousands of people.
In this episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast, Todd discusses what is perhaps his most notable mental strategy — the Alter Ego Effect. Tune in as Todd explains the limiting narratives we construct about ourselves, and how we can overcome them. He’ll answer questions like:
- How can you employ the concept of the Alter Ego to achieve your goals?
- What’s the one thing you can’t coach?
- What are the Four Core Motivators?
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2:28 – Your Alter Ego is your heroic self. “The Alter Ego Effect is this amazing phenomenon that runs counter to what most people think when it comes to developing yourself. When you employ an Alter Ego, you actually end up finding out more about who you are. People get so caught up in their own narrative about who they are and where they come from, but those things end up trapping them. Human beings have all sorts of untapped qualities and abilities, but because of this narrative, we end up acting through the exact same person over and over again telling ourselves what we think we can and cannot do. And the Alter Ego is the thing that allows these abilities to come out of you more freely so that you can truly lead the life that you most want.”
4:59 – An Alter Ego is a natural identity. “In 2003, I discovered this common link between the top performers whom I was working with. They were all using this idea adopting a persona when they’d go onto the field. And that’s when I started realizing that this is an actual mechanism that people use to perform at the level that they most desire. So I started building out the model on how to actually use it. One great example is Kobe Bryant. He didn’t come into the league as the “Black Mamba”. He was going through an extraordinarily challenging time where he felt like he was losing his edge, and he was inspired by a scene in the movie Kill Bill with a black mamba snake. He liked the idea of being like one on the court, something with zero emotion. And then he went and learned everything that there is to know about a black mamba snake, because we have this emotional brain that attaches story and meaning to things. When you get to know something better, it’s so much easier to activate the abilities. And these alter egos don’t just reserve themselves for athletes. They run the gamut across leaders, public figures, salespeople, you name it. Once you learn how to shape your identity and play that way, you’re unstoppable. Knowing how to adjust your identity is the ultimate trump card in the world of transformation.”
9:03 – You’ve got a friend in you. “The term ‘alter ego’ was first coined by Cicero, the greatest Roman statesman and philosopher to ever live. He was the first one to actually write ‘alter ego’, which means ‘the other eye’, or ‘trusted friend within’. And that’s important because, when you improve the quality of the people you have around you, you improve yourself. And it sure is an unfair advantage when you get to rely on friends who can solve a problem for you, right? I don’t have these friends around me 24/7, but I do live with the six inches between my ears. It’s the voice within. And so that idea that you have a trusted ally between your ears is a very practical way to use your brain. We’re very visual beings, and an alter ego becomes a mental model of an image that you can hold in your mind for what you’re trying to move towards. If you don’t use this thing as a toolbox, you’re just operating way slower than the people at the top.”
13:33 – Imagine yourself in the extraordinary. “The most honest place on the planet is your pillow. The pillow never lies. When people put their head on that pillow at night and reflect on their day, that’s when they’ll beat themselves up. You’ve got some beliefs about yourself and what you can do or can’t do, some habits that aren’t supporting you, or some groups that are somehow stifling you in some way, and all of this ends up creating a ‘trapped self’. Conversely, the extraordinary world is not bubblegum, gumdrops, and daisies. It’s often the same situations and circumstances, but it’s extraordinary because it’s an inside-out approach where you decide how you want to show up. And when you do that, you end up feeling heroic. That’s why it’s the trapped self versus the heroic self. The alter ego is the way to pull that heroic self up into the extraordinary world because it uses creative imagination. Nothing else on this planet has the creative imagination that we do. We can create heavens from hell and hells from heaven and creative imagination is this amazing backdoor to the world of peak performance.”
18:53 – Growth stems from struggles, scrapes, and scars. “Motivation is a very misunderstood term. It’s not a feeling; in its root form, it means ‘mode of action’, which is the tool that you use to get your ass moving. You can’t coach someone on ‘desire’, which is what other people mean when they talk about motivation. You either want it or you don’t. The only path to success is to get the scrapes and earn the scars. When you reflect back on 2020 and look at some of the struggles that you had to go through, some people just sit in the struggle. That’s where they stop. Then some people move from struggle and get the scrapes. But then some people even stop there. You need to move through the scrapes so the scar can actually heal. You’ve got to come through and you’ve got to want it. The value that you’re earning from this gives you broader shoulders, which means you can carry a heavier load. Then you get to do bigger and better things.”
30:11 – Kids need a balance of learning from challenges. “When it comes to kids playing sports, it’s not a zero sum game of winning and losing. The game at their level is developmental. It’s growth. The hallmark of whether or not they’re being motivated is if they want to come back and play the game again. That’s a great measure of whether or not they’re being properly coached. Kids are massively motivated by learning and growth. It’s not about whether or not the kids are winning, but if they are advancing and getting better. For example, the way that Kobe Bryant parented his kids was just bringing his daughter onto the basketball court and playing with her. He was developmentally advancing her skill set but not destroying her. We can take some of our values and attitudes and carry them over into other roles in our lives but they can become toxic in another situation.”
32:19 – Dress the part. “The final set of steps in this process is employing a totem, or an artifact. This could be a uniform, because we as human beings add a narrative to the things that we wear and what other people wear. This is a natural thing that human beings do, because we did it all as kids, when we pretended to be Superman or Batman, or played house or teacher, and it’s just our way of developing skills. And yet we stopped doing it because we start looking at people ahead of us, at bad models of people who haven’t actually figured it out. And so it’s a creative imagination tool.”
EPISODE RESOURCES & REFERENCES
The Alter Ego Effect (book)
Black mamba (snake)
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood
Mamba Mentality by Kobe Bryant
Kellogg School of Management
The Stroop Color and Word Test (SCWT)
Martin Luther King Jr.