1-Line Summary: The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman talks about activating our heroic selves and using our super-abilities to boost our performance while playing any game of life.
The Alter Ego Effect Summary [PDF]
Ever wished to be a superhero?
Well, the good news is: you can.
Yes. This fantasy of yours is going to become true.
You have a heroic self that has immense potential.
In this book, the author has discussed how we all can activate our superpowers by realizing our alter-ego.
And in this book summary, I’m going to discuss the key ideas or lessons from this book.
So without further ado…
Let’s dive right in!
Lesson #1: Unleash the power of your secret identity — the superhero within you.
So according to the author, we all have a secret identity, which the author calls “Alter Ego.”
That is not different than you.
It’s your best possible self.
We all have a second version of ourselves.
If you have watched Spiderman, you know how he has two versions of himself.
One that he uses in his normal life: Peter Parker.
And then there is another version he uses to fight the villains.
Yes, the Spiderman version.
Are they both different persons?
Of course, not. We all know that they are the same person.
It doesn’t matter if it’s Peter Parker or Spiderman, they are the same.
Similarly, we all have a superhero within us.
Don’t believe it? It’s fine.
Keep reading. It’ll make sense after you finish reading this summary.
So yeah, we all have a superhero within us.
The big question is:
Why we don’t find it? And what are our superpowers?
Your heroic self is nothing, but the best side of yourself.
Our daily lives are boring. There is nothing much really.
So we don’t think very highly of ourselves. And if we do once in a while, it’s not based on reality.
This all superhero stuff might sound childish.
But somewhere deep within you is a great source of power.
Now, power may come in any form. It may be creative power. Or it may be pure mental strength.
It differs from person to person.
The point is:
If we dig deeper and find our greatest strengths, we can defeat our problems.
So yeah, there are no crazy OP villains in real life.
But our unique strengths and abilities make us all a superhero who can defeat the villains (problems) in real life.
Lesson #2: Your alter-ego is your truest And most beautiful Self.
The author recommends that you should create an alter-ego for yourself.
What is this “alter-ego”? And do we even need one?
First of all, an alter-ego is not something separate from your original self.
You are not going to become a different person after putting on a mask.
This is real life after all. And not a superhero.
So it makes much more sense to be realistic.
The idea here is to find your truest self that has its unique strengths.
Keep in mind that this is not your usual self.
Frankly speaking, our normal Self is boring.
Simply look at your life.
Do you feel that you are giving your best?
Do you really believe that you are using your 100% potential?
If you are living your best life, then you don’t need an alter ego.
But for most people, they are living with only 10% abilities.
They still need to unlock their full potential.
And alter-ego helps us to reach our full potential.
Put in simple words:
Your alter-ego is your best possible self that you can use to give your best while performing anything.
Lesson #3: To use your alter ego, you need to build it from scratch.
The problem is:
If you don’t know what your alter-ego looks like and what are its superpowers, you won’t be able to use it.
The author has discovered a great approach.
You have to build your alter-ego from scratch. And in such a way that it resembles your best possible Self.
In other words, you will have to dig deeper.
You will have to learn about your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, your mission, your vision, etc.
Think of it like this:
You are given a golden opportunity to design your own superhero.
You don’t like Batman’s costume? No problem. Change it however you want.
You don’t like Spiderman’s voice? No problem. Change it.
It’s your imagination.
You have the power to create it.
It’s your superhero. It’s your truest self.
There is no point if you don’t like your superhero.
So you better make sure that you build one that resonates with you.
Now, you might be getting lots of doubts in your mind.
“What powers should I choose?”
“I can’t fly. So what’s the point of giving this ability to my superhero?”
That’s the whole point of creating an alter-ego.
There are many things you can’t do because of your conditioning of the mind.
But your superhero is not like you. He can do wonders using his amazing abilities.
When you are imagining yourself doing great stuff, you are unlocking your true abilities.
So just for the sake of it, name your superhero and give him all the powers you don’t have.
Name it. Color it. Give him powers that you find cool.
Realistically speaking, you won’t be able to fly no matter how much you imagine.
But here is the trick:
Find your biggest weakness.
You fear public speaking? No problem.
Imagine your superhero giving a flawless speech in Wembley stadium in front of a huge crowd with zero fear in his mind.
You fear heights? Not a big deal.
Imagine your superhero soaring high in the sky and reaching the stars.
Remember, they are your fears. Not your hero’s.
Your superhero can do things that you are afraid to do.
That’s your alter-ego.
Lesson #4: Every superhero is different. And so are your unique talents.
Okay so now you have build your superhero.
Please note that I’m using “alter-ego” and “superhero” interchangeably. So don’t get confused.
Just know that every superhero has his unique strengths.
Not all superheroes are the same.
You can’t expect Spiderman to throw energy beams from eyes like Superman.
Which one of them is the best?
Well, that depends on the situation.
If you have to destroy the enemy, Superman is the best for the job.
If you have to save stop the enemy in its tracks, Spiderman’s web would do the job.
So you need different talents in different situations.
No man is an island, right?
Why are we discussing this?
That’s because it’s important to know that you don’t expect your alter-ego to perform excellently in every situation.
In fact, if you do so, there will not be any point.
Spiderman doesn’t have all the powers in the world.
And so do the Wonder Woman.
They possess different abilities.
Ever thought about why we call them superheroes?
What really makes them Super?
They have become who they are because they mastered their unique abilities.
Of course, it was not easy for them.
Remember the scene where Spiderman fell from the roof while testing his webs?
That was funny, right?
That’s the key.
Find your strengths. And try to master them.
Your alter-ego is that version of you that has overcome your limiting assumptions that you can’t achieve so and so.
Your alter-ego is that part of you that has the potential to achieve wonders.
I recommend that you create a couple of different alter-egos for every common problem.
For instance, if you often find yourself struggling to be consistent, then deliberately create an alter-ego that has no problems with consistency.
And then whenever you struggle to be consistent, simply activate that particular alter-ego using the ninja technique. (Discussed later)
Lesson #5: Every hero has a mission.
What makes heroes so appealing?
They are all fighting for something they strongly believe in.
In other words, they all have a mission, which they believe must be fulfilled — no matter what the cost.
And we enjoy that story.
Also, it immediately creates a bond between us and the hero.
Now think about why don’t we like Villians.
They are fighting too, aren’t they? They too have their sophisticated ideals and twisted morals.
They too believe in stuff that they want to achieve — no matter.
Why do we hate them so much?
The answer is:
They are all selfish.
Yes, they are trying to destroy everything for selfish reasons.
Their mission is to satisfy their own selfish desires.
Their actions don’t benefit any other person.
What can we learn from this insight?
For a mission to be appealing, it has to be selfless.
There should be a greater cause behind every mission.
Now apply this same thing to the Hero that you created in your imagination earlier.
What mission does he have — that’s bigger than the hero himself?
Is it to help people become better in their lives? Or is it to protect people from villains, the people who greedily want to satisfy their own desires and nothing else?
It could be anything. Just make sure it’s big.
Why are we creating a mission?
That’s because you would want your alter-ego to solve a bigger life problem.
The problem should be based on reality.
Otherwise, you won’t be able to admire that hero.
And then there won’t be any benefit of doing this exercise of creating an alter-ego.
Lesson #6: Your alter ego is your secret identity. Don’t expose it to everyone!
Note the word “secret” here.
Your alter-ego is a secret identity that you have created for yourself.
If you tell other people about it, they will only make fun of you.
Nobody believes in superheroes when it comes to real life.
There is a high risk that you will lose trust in your superhero, which represents your 100% potential.
Even if we forget about this stuff, most people would discourage us.
There are very few people who help other people bring out their best possible Self.
Most people will only pull you down instead of pulling up.
Another reason you don’t want other people to know about this is:
Your superhero is not available 24*7.
You have to activate your heroic self intentionally using a special ninja technique.
Okay, it’s not a ninja technique. But it’s something that you can do to call your heroic self.
Now the fun begins…
Lesson 7: Use a totem or an artifact to activate your alter-ego to tackle tough challenges.
So far we have discussed bringing forth the superhero inside us.
Now it’s time for some action.
How do we call it?
Don’t worry. Let’s talk about it.
Think about how usually superheroes turn their “superhero mode” on.
They all seem to use a special technique.
Some say “Ding-Ding.”
While others tear apart their shirt.
Ya. Some put on their cool masks or costumes.
Some whistle. (Okay, just kidding.)
Yes, there are others too who speak secret words.
I know… there are many others who don’t bother with these techniques at all. They are too lazy to make a technique.
Anyway, the author recommends that you use a Totem or artifact that’s always available to you.
This way, you won’t have to search for it in case of an emergency.
And it’s also fun to do that, isn’t it?
It makes you feel as if you are actually a superhero when all you are doing is calling your inner strengths.
The author has discussed so many things to keep in mind while selecting your Totem.
Here are a few tips:
- It should be simple and small.
- It should be easily available to you all the time.
- Don’t tell other people about your secret.
- Don’t lend it to your friends.
- Strongly believe in it.
- Try to feel a strong bond with it.
There must be some kind of emotional connection between you and your artifact.
So be careful before you choose anything to be your key to unleashing your superhero.
The reason why you need an artifact or totem is that it gives you a feeling of being a superhero.
Otherwise, how would you know if your superhero mode is on or off?
When you need your powers, feel free to activate them.
And yeah, please don’t go around your school or office wearing superhero masks. It should be simple like wearing a watch, or glasses, or a hat, or a ring.
You don’t have to become a weirdo in front of friends while activating your superpowers.
Remember that it’s a secret identity.
Other people must not know about it.
So go… Be a hero!
The Alter Ego Effect Quotes
Here are some of my favorite notable quotes from this book by Todd Herman:
We are judged in our lives by what we do, not by what we think or intend to do. ~Todd Herman
For there to be light, there has to be dark. For there to be up, there has to be down. For there to be the Hero, there has to be the Enemy. It’s all about balance. ~Todd Herman
You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love. ~Todd Herman’s Father
The Alter Ego Effect Review
I loved the new concept of building an alter-ego.
This is something different than what you usually expect in self-help books.
The author urges the reader to use his power of imagination and unleash our true potential using alter-ego.
Frankly speaking, most people won’t do this thing.
It seems like a lot of work.
And no matter how much you read this book, there is always confusion:
“Will this work?”
Yes, such doubts also popped up inside my mind.
Although the book and the concept discussed are quite good, there are many flaws.
For example, we all have assumptions about what the Heroes and Villains look like.
There is a grey area.
For many people, Villains are no less than Heroes.
The people we think of as heroes are not really heroes.
If you get stuck in a situation, Spiderman won’t come to rescue you. It sounds good in movies though.
That’s just a fantasy.
Real heroes are people who give their lives to create something meaningful in this world.
I think that author should have focused first on defining who and what exactly is a Hero.
Even if you perfectly build an alter-ego, it’s difficult to fool your mind for a long time.
There will always be a clash of identities between The Real You and The Alter-Ego.
Deep down you want to be just you.
My opinion is:
Instead of building an alter-ego, one should first understand who it is that we call “I.”
Exactly who needs an alter-ego.
Most people don’t know themselves. Put simply, they have wrong beliefs about themselves.
So it doesn’t matter how they build their alter-ego, it will come from a wrong understanding.
In real life, there are no heroes and villains.
We all have tendencies to be both.
After all, these concepts are given to us by the movies.
This alter-ego thingy might be helpful in the short term.
But if you want a permanent solution, learn about spirituality. That’s the only permanent solution that I know so far.
Anyway, you can always experiment.
If what the author teaches works for you, then feel free to build your secret identity.
Still, there is no denying that the concept is cool.
I’d like to give this book a rating: 8.5/10.
Who would I recommend this book?
I’d recommend this book to:
- Athletes who want to improve their performance in the field.
- Businessmen who are struggling to perform.
- Coaches who teach about performance.
- Psychologists who want to research about the alter-ego effect.
Anyone who is interested in improving his performance by overcoming self-doubts and limiting assumptions should read this book at least once.
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Until next time.