The Alter Ego Effect - Todd Herman

The Alter Ego Effect - Todd Herman

Video Book Summary

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Book Summary Notes

The Alter Ego Effect

“When you see how the Alter Ego fits into the human condition, the different roles we play in life, and the Fields of Play we stand on, it gives you the freedom to unlock a creative force."

"When you see how an Alter Ego helps us battle the natural challenges we all face with greater optimism, it can unlock a more playful and empowering approach to overcoming fear.

"And when you see it’s a natural part of being human, has been used by tens of thousands of people to achieve goals both big or small, and is the most ‘real you’ you could be–it will unlock the capabilities you didn’t know were there."

"Before I go any further, I need to make a quick disclaimer, because I don’t want to mislead you with that last paragraph."

"This isn’t a motivation rah-rah book filled with cotton-candy ideas plucked from other cotton-candy self-help books that riddle the bookshelf and e-readers. This isn’t a book with an ‘easy button’ buried inside it. There is no treasure map to a pile of gold coins."

"This book is for real people doing hard things. This isn’t a book to remove the challenges of life. It’s to take the part of you that shows up when you least expect it, and show you how to get it to show up when you most need it.”

Comic Books

  • Who doesn't love comic book Super Heros? 
  • The idea of having super powers and an Alter Ego is enticing..  

Remember when you were a kid and you would imagine yourself doing that?  Nothing was impossible. This book is kind of giving us permission to be that kid again. But it's not just saying be imaginative and live your life through play.

Really it's showing us this that we really are this super hero. We already have the capabilities or if not we can easily learn them.

But the book is called the Alter Ego EFFECT!

Basically how using that childhood imagination can product real effects to help us achieve more in life.

I love it..  What a concept!  Wish I thought of it myself.

But I didn't!  This is just a summary of some points I pulled out..  Go get the book!  Seriously..  It's good.


“I’ve always been fascinated by comics, comic book heroes, and the worlds they live in. The origin stories, the villains, and the epic battles always found a way to draw me into their worlds."

"As a kid, I loved the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. Today people might laugh at those 1980s productions compared to the epic rebirth of superhero movies happening now, but back in the day, they were awesome."

"Now, here’s a riddle for you: Everyone knows that Superman and Clark Kent are the same. But which one is the alter ego?"

"I’ve asked this question for the past fifteen years, countless times in front of audiences around the world, and 90 percent of the audience immediately yell out, ‘SUPERMAN!’"

"It sounds right. Because when you think of ‘alter egos,’ you think of superpowers, heroism, and epic battles. All the qualities of a superhero like Superman."

"Except–it’s wrong."

"The alter ego isn’t Superman; it’s Clark Kent. Superman is the real person. He created the alter ego, mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, as a useful persona to go unnoticed day-to-day on earth and blend in to help him achieve a crucial goal: understanding humans."

"Superman would flip between his alter ego and the S on his chest at precisely the moments when he needed each persona the most.”

Alter Ego

This passage was a big breakthrough for me..  But at first it might seem simple!

  • Maybe you're thinking 'oh I didn't realize' but yeah Clark Kent is the Alter Ego..  
  • But likely you haven't understood what that means (at least to me).. 

Clark Kent being the Alter Ego is like you..  And everything you're doing to keep yourself safe by playing at a level lower than what you are capable of!

  • Clark Kent is fumbling, anxious and un-eventful because that's what Superman created him to be..  So he wouldn't stand out!  So he would be safe..  
  • How have you done that to yourself?

Are you really this Clark Kent character you've created?  Or have you just spent so much time in Character you forgot that you're really superman..  And that Clark Kent is the Alter Ego?

  • Here's a hint..  You're Superman!  You've always been Superman..  
  • But sometimes that Clark Kent was useful..  Keeping you within societies norms!
  • Not now..  Now we need Superman..  Because now we're going to change your life!

The Bat Signal

“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."

Calling Batman

How awesome is that study?  Simply by impersonating a Superhero the researchers were able to measure real differences in kids..  

To me this seems to link well to the marshmallow test..  Which has been demonstrated to have serious implications for success later in life!

  • What if they gave the kids who didn't have the self discipline to wait for something an alter ego?  Would Batman wait and get two marshmallows?
  • I bet he would.. 

What would cultivating this Alter Ego for these kids mean in the long term?  What would it mean for you right now?

Batman Doesn't Get Frustrated

See in the study one kid said 'Batman never get's frustrated'..  I think that's a cool look into how we can use the Alter Ego effect on ourselves!

When you get into a situation..  Think about how your Inner Superhero would respond!  Instead of reacting the way you normally would.. 

  • Stuck in traffic?  Would your inner Batman get frustrated..  Or find a way to hone his skills!
  • Big meeting coming up?  Would Superwoman let her response to that be anxiety or excitement..  As in The Five Second Rule

Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about rehearsing events before they happen..  Imagining them going your way and training your mind to succeed! 

Wouldn't marrying these two concepts be powerful?

• Maybe even exponentially as powerful because the mind really does like to think in photos!

• This isn't scientific at all I just made it up..  But worth a try!

Imagine yourself as your Super Hero in your situation..  

• How would they react?

• What would they think?

• What emotions would they feel?


“In other words, our emotions drive our actions. It’s almost impossible for you to take action towards something you’re indifferent too."

"Beyond just taking action, the emotional resonance you feel toward what you want, toward why you’re creating this Alter Ego, is also your motivation. The word motivation comes from the Latin word motivus which means ‘moving cause.’"

"As a mental strength coach, there’s one thing I can’t coach people on. That’s motivation. I won’t touch it. It’s one of the few things that no one can coach you to want or create for you. It’s the X–factor. I can’t make an athlete get up at 4 a.m. to run drills and wind sprints. I can’t make an entrepreneur want to start and grow a business or to stick with it when they hit the rough patches. I can’t make someone want their goal bad enough that they’re driven to overcome any and every obstacle, no matter how tough or how high the cost."

"In his best selling book, How We Decide, Jonah Lehrer makes the case that rationality depends on emotion. Feeling, not intellect, drives motivation. Lehrer points out, ‘Emotion and motivation share the same Latin root movere which means ‘to move.’ The world is full of things, and it is our feelings that help us choose among them.’"

"You have to find that motivation within, and very often that motivation comes from feeling so emotionally connected to what we want that nothing else matters. It’s the core purpose of our being. We have to go on this quest. We have to enter our Extraordinary World, no matter the cost, no matter the odds, no matter the outcome.”

'From Within'

As Todd says here 'motivation' that comes from external sources isn't really motivation..  

  • Videos, quotes and coaches can all 'motivate' by giving you a speech but what does it really accomplish?
  • When it's 4 am in the morning and you have to get up..  By yourself!  Where is that speech?

Instead we must find out 'moving cause' something that gives us so much emotion that it's going to drive action!

  • I call that your 'vision' in my self coaching course..  and it's literally the first thing we do!
  • Creating your compelling future is what we use to pull us through all of the other stuff!  
  • Attaching serious emotion to what you could accomplish if you really took responsibility for your life is a great motivation!

The Superhero story fit's here well too..  Every Superhero has one main cause they are moving towards right?  

  • Generally an ideal they uphold that they want to bring to the world!  (This is just one of the types of visions you can have you don't need to have this one)
  • But think right now..  
  • What's your compelling future?

Given that you really were a Superhero what would you want to accomplish?

Who would you want to help or protect?

What cause would grab you so emotionally that you just had to move towards it?


“The Extraordinary World is extraordinary because we tackle life head-on, we challenge it, and we don’t let distractions slow us down."

"It also allows you to suspend disbelief about your capabilities, because you’re taking an Alter Ego onto the Field of Play. ... Plus, it turns out there’s research to back up the power of intentionally bringing predefined Superpowers to your world."

"Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson are two of the most widely cited researchers of happiness and well-being. Over the period of a decade, they studied almost one hundred cultures around the globe. The team tested 150,000 people to determine how people that were coping with adversity and the challenges of life operated. They found that the people who identified their core characteristics or Superpowers and deliberately and intentionally focused on Activating those Superpowers were more resilient and fulfilled.”

Decide on Your Powers

Now Batman, Superwoman and Dora The Explorer are all perfect for their environments..

  • But unless you're in Gotham fighting bad dudes a utility belt and fighting skills might not be all that important for you!
  • (Although they might be cool just to have). 

But there are likely superpowers that would serve you in your everyday life..

  • What would those be?  Here are some examples. 
  • Confidence
  • Focus
  • Persistance

Tell Yourself Them All The Time

Now if you've decided on the Superpowers you want some self talk around them might be helpful..  

  • Because at first maybe you don't truly believe them..  
  • They might be just things that would be 'nice to have'

But as Dr. Shad Helmstetter tells us in his teachings..

  • 'The brain simply believes what you tell it most of the time'
  • So if you tell yourself that you are this Superhero and you have these Superpowers..  More and more your brain will believe it!
  • After a while you'll start exhibiting these powers unconsciously!  It's pretty powerful.

Hero's Journey

“There’s a point in the Hero’s Journey where the Hero has to ‘Cross the Threshold.’ It’s the moment they leave their Ordinary World and set out on a new adventure."

"In Star Wars, it’s when Luke Skywalker goes with Obi-Wan Kenobi to Mos Eisley and leaves his family farm. In The Lord of the Rings, it’s when Frodo leaves the Shire and embarks on the quest to destroy the ring. In the 2017 Wonder Woman, it’s when Diana leaves the hidden island of Themyscira to help save humanity."

"In each case, there’s an adventure, quest, or mission to be undertaken. Sometimes it’s made by choice, and sometimes it’s been chosen for them, whether by circumstance or a deep desire to fulfill some destiny. ... Now, [for whatever reason you picked up this book] the next step is to ‘cross the threshold’ and begin."

"At the end of your life, you won’t remember the thoughts or intentions you had. You’ll remember the actions you took. You’ll judge yourself by how you showed up, by what you did, what you said, how you acted, and whether you performed in a way you knew you could in any of the stages of life."

"Just like any coach, when you hear the buzzer sound, I want you to look back and say, ‘I left nothing behind. I gave it my all. I did everything I wanted to do, and more important, I showed up as my Heroic Self with all my capabilities, skills, and intentions. And it toppled dominoes, which changed my life in extraordinary, unpredictable ways. And because I did this, I lived a full life.’ ..."

"My final challenge for you is to create your Alter Ego, cross the threshold, and reveal your Superpowers to the world. Your mission begins now . . .”

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