Bruce Wayne has Batman, Beyonce has Sacha Fierce, and the list of stars with an alter ego goes on and on .. Alternate personalities that make them stronger when they need to perform at their absolute peak. But if you aren't a pop star or have never been bitten by a radioactive spider, why would you even want an alter ego in the first place? The answer is below...
A couple of years ago now, I was lucky enough to be able to spend some time with Suzi Quatro. She had graciously agreed to be a guest on one of my podcasts, and we spent an hour or so together. During our chat, she mentioned how Elvis Presley had been one of the greatest influences on a young Suzi in terms of how she envisaged her future.
As the conversation went on, we got to talking about performance, and Suzi explained that she had two personalities. "Little Suzi", who was the day to day wife, mother and actress that her family and friends knew. And "Suzi Quatro" the leather-clad, Bass playing superstar that walked into the spotlight and played gigs in front of tens of thousands of people each night.
While that all sounds good for the likes of Suzi, and Bono and Eminem Right, why would YOU need one?? The answer is that having an alter ego can help you in many ways.
For me, super Producer Brian Eno (U2, David Bowie, Talking Heads etc), or sometimes it's songwriting genius, Iva Davies (Australian Rock Band Icehouse) are just two of my go to's. When I'm settling in to come up with some new sounds or effects on Pro Tools, throwing together wild combinations of plugins, or breaking conventions on how things would be done is all inspired by Super Producer Brian Eno.
When I'm writing scripts. The songwriting experimentations and influences of Iva Davies encourage me to be brave and try something new. Or attack the way I use my inspirations from a different angle.
Adopting an alter ego is an extreme form of ‘self-distancing’, which involves taking a step back from our immediate feelings to allow us to view a situation more dispassionately
But it's not all just about work. Here are just some of the benefits of having an alter ego that you can also use in your everyday life:
It can help you to step out of your comfort zone.
Having an alter ego can be very empowering.
You can channel your genius through your alter ego.
An alter ego can give you some distance from yourself.
Having an alter ego can make life more fun.
Let's see what that looks like..
Stepping out of your comfort zone..
It's pretty scary to try something new, in business or your personal life. One part of you says, "Hey, that'll be great! I'd be perfect at that". But that little voice in the back of your head says... "Why would you do that?, What if it doesn't work?, Who do you think you are? You'll never make that happen!". So we back down and return to what we know. Never to see how right we may have been in the first place, and certainly not reap the rewards of taking a risk in the first place.
But this is where your alter ego comes into their own. Where you say "That looks scary", your alter ego says "I got this, let me at it"! When you say "what if it doesn't work", your ALTER ego says "Hey. at least I'll have given it a shot".
Your alter ego gives you the opportunity to be brave, stretch your wings and try something new...
Your alter ego really helps you to get out of your own way. By channelling their powers, you empower yourself to take the steps necessary to break the mould.
Maybe as a kid, you were told: "girls shouldn’t be so aggressive". Or maybe you were told, "boys who take too many risks always get into trouble". Therefore, you buried those aspects of yourself so deep, you forgot they were there. But they are still there. And your alter ego can help you dig them out.
An alter ego that you have faith in, can bridge the gap between where you are now, and where you want to be.
Channelling Your Genius
This one is very personal for me. In fact, it's the reason that Brian Eno became one of my Alter Egos.
So many times when I was getting going in Radio Imaging, I would want to create something new, something different. A voice effect no one had heard before, an edit on some music that made people stop and say "Wow", but all too often I would start down the road of experimentation, and those internal demons would pipe up and say "Hey, you'll never get anybody to like that, it's lame, sounds too different, it's not what the guys down the road are doing". so I'd hit the erase button and just produce what I thought was expected of me.
One day I discovered a documentary on Brian Eno and was taken by his "I don't care what convention says" approach. From that day on, when the "experimental me" went to work, Brian Eno was in the room with me, inspiring me to take risks, and push the limits of what I believed would work.
We could all boost our emotional regulation, self-control and general poise by choosing to embody another persona à la Sasha Fierce (Beyonce)..
So how do you create your Own Alter Ego?
It's not as hard as you may think. Pick someone who inspires you. Someone who's qualities you admire and channel them into your own alter ego. It may not be just one person. As I mentioned before I have a couple of "go-to" egos, depending on what I'm doing. But for you, it may work to combine the qualities fo a few different people into one unique character who you give their own name and create a vision of what they look like in your head.
The point is, you need to come up with someone who has all the qualities you think you will need to do the job/make the change/be your best. It can be one, or many egos all rolled into one. But once you’ve chosen your alter ego, you need to be clear on how they move, the way they talk, their beliefs and how they think, so you can be true to their nature when you're trying to channel their energy into what you're doing.
Eventually, though, you’ll probably outgrow the need for an alter ego to embody the traits you want to have because you’ll have enough practise that it’ll just become you. But by then, there's bound to be some other personal trait which will benefit from someone else's persona...