If you could be any superhero, who would you be? Todd Herman would tell you to go ahead and be Wonder Woman.
Herman is a mental performance coach. For the past 16 years, he’s created alter egos for professional athletes, Olympians, entertainers, public leaders, and entrepreneurs. These alter egos allow his clients to step up to the plate calm and confident, ready to hit a grand slam. It’s not about becoming someone else, it’s about being the best version of yourself.
“The power of using alter egos and secret identities is that psychologically, it’s disassociative. You actually disassociate yourself from your own personal narrative and trauma and now you get to act through this different identity that you’ve created for yourself,” said Herman.
“And it’s not about being fake. It’s actually tapping into a psychological phenomenon that already exists.”
Lessons from Todd Herman:
1. You Already Possess a Superpower
Herman explains that there’s this universal narrative that latches on to all of us. It's the hero's journey. Admit it, you've considered how cool it would be to have a superpower. To fly? To read minds? Herman argues that humans do have a superpower and it’s our creative imagination.
“[Creative imagination] is truly the only thing that makes human beings unique on this planet. Love doesn’t. Caring for others doesn’t. I’m not saying those things aren’t powerful but they’re not what makes us unique. Other animals love and other animals care. But we are the only animal on this planet that can create a heaven from hell, and a hell from heaven. We are the only living thing that can create stories and narratives in our own head.”
The creative imagination is our most powerful possession, says Herman.
2. How To Create Your Own Alter Ego
First thing Herman does when he's working with a client is to ask what's frustrating them. He then pinpoints which of their roles are experiencing that frustration and flips the script with an alter ego. You can do this exercise with yourself.
"Our identities are always in context to the role that we play or the field of play that we're on. No one denies to me that they don't have multiple roles. I'm a dad, entrepreneur, and coach. So I always ask them first: what's frustrating you?" said Herman. In this example, it's a clients role as a professional baseball player that is experiencing frustration with how he's playing.
Herman then flips the script and asks the client: Well, how do you most want to be showing up as a baseball player? And don't answer the question through what you believe you can do, because now you've automatically limited yourself. Answer the question as your greatest superhero inspiration would. What would superman say?
The baseball player then answers: Well, I want to be stepping up to the plate supremely confident and very, very calm.
Herman digs deep to define those superhuman qualities his clients aspire to possess. Then, they create an alternative identity. When the baseball player steps up to the plate next time, he's Babe Ruth, ready to smack one into the grandstands.
Related: Mental Focus in 5 Easy Steps
3. Have Multiple Alter Egos
Don't feel restricted when you create your alter ego. Herman says it's healthy to create multiple identities for each role. You can have your work alter ego and your family alter ego. It's all about creating the best version of yourself in each of your life roles.
"Now you can start to build a custom-built life where you don't see yourself as one identity," said Herman. "That's actually extraordinarily unhealthy mentally if you have one identity. We all have multiple."
"I'm a challenger personality. I work with hard-charging, high-achieving people all day long. But when I go home, the last thing my three little ones want is that. They don't want a challenger dad. So my inspiration [at home] is Mr. Rogers. I bring a more gentle self to my kids. More playful and fun."
For more from Todd Herman, listen to the Spartan Up! podcast in its entirety.
CREDITS: Producer – Marion Abrams, Madmotion, llc. Hosts: Joe De Sena, Sefra Alexandra, Col. Nye, Johnny Waite & guest Lonnie Mayne Synopsis – Sefra Alexandra Production Assistant - Andrea Hagarty Guest: Todd Herman