Have you ever wondered how peak performers are able to master success?
For the last twenty years, Todd Herman has been helping the world's top peak performers do just that.
While I was at the Traffic and Conversion Summit I had the opportunity to sit down with Todd and talk about his new best-selling book, The Alter Ego Effect: The Power of Secret Identities to Transform Your Life.
He shares the secrets of peak performers, deconstructs what the heroic alter ego is, and talks about how you can tap into your own alter ego.
If you are ready to take your performance to the next level, this is an interview that you don't want to miss!
Watch the video below:
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Peak performers have mastered the art of execution.
Todd Herman has mentored Olympic athletes, CEOs, public figures, performers, and leaders tap into their “alter egos.” He teaches people strategies and tools for how they can master their mental game so that they are able to compete with confidence and win at life.
The path to peak performance looks different for everyone. However, there is one thing that all peak performers have in common – they have mastered their craft by mastering their mindset. Studies of peak performance by K. Anders Ericcson have shown that it takes about 10, 000 hours of study, practice, and preparation to become an expert. This has now been shown across multiple fields of performance.
In my work, I have had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing a lot of peak performers.
A common theme I've noticed is that they thrive in life because they have committed to practicing daily mental habits of success. When times get tough, they refuse to give up. They bring their “A” game to everything that they do and strive to be the best that they can be. Here is a sneak peek of my interview with Todd Herman where we talk about how to create a heroic alter ego to transform your life.
Do you mind sharing your story and how you’ve been able to work with some of the world’s top performers?
I live in NYC now. However, I grew up on a farm and ranch in Western Canada. When I was younger I loved sports. I was always trying to keep up with my older brothers. Over the course of time, I excelled at a couple of different sports. I managed to get myself a college football scholarship and played football for a few years. I'm not a physically gifted person. I'm not 6″4 and 250 pounds. My greatest superpower was my mental game approach.
I played bigger than I was. After I finished playing I started coaching young athletes. These people started getting great results. Eventually, that transformed into a successful business. I developed the mental strength that I have today from a really bad experience that I had when I was 12 years old. I was sexually assaulted by two men over the course of a couple of days at a church camp. That experience ruined me. I had so much shame and guilt. When I was growing up I attempted suicide multiple times. I didn't share anything with anybody for over 31 years.
A year a half ago, I told my wife and good friend that I was sexually assaulted.
I was grabbing onto anything that would help me navigate my way through life. Over time, I created an alter ego. It helped me suspend my own disbelief about what I could do in order to get out of my narrative and step into a different self. This is what allowed me to continue doing the things that I wanted to do. There are a lot of people in this world who have experienced tough times in life which is why they've been able to relate to my story
A lot of people carry around layers of fear and trauma that hold them back. While they may know that it doesn't serve them, they don't know how to release themselves from it. If you hold onto a disempowering narrative it is impossible to move forward in life. However, when you start using your creative imagination, you give yourself permission to tap into the person who you really are.
This is the moment at which you are able to shift yourself out of a disempowering narrative. You are inside the bottle of your own life. Because of this, it can be really hard to read the label. By playing with different identities, you can shapeshift and start getting the things that you want. It's important to know that this doesn't mean that you are inauthentic or deceptive. Shapeshifting is all about you untapping the aspects of yourself that are already present.
Sometimes we have a tough time seeing ourselves do something.
However, we are still able to see other people do it. There is actually a powerful frame that you have found that you can use to perform at a higher level. The reason why I've been so successful working with people to transform their levels of performance is that I don't invent new things. I'm simply trying to find an existing phenomenon that lives inside of the psychology of how humans are built. Once I accomplish this, I strive to leverage it.
I've helped pro athletes, executives, and leaders all around the world develop alter egos. There isn't a continent that I haven't touched. I ask people if they are willing to accept a new idea of what they can or cannot do. If they are willing, I can work with them. If not, they stay trapped where you are. It's impossible for you to act and create a result if it wasn't already inside of you.
There is a great quote that I share in my book from Cary Grant. He said, “I pretended to be somebody that I wanted to be and I became that person, or he became me, but we met at some point.”
Our only superpower as human beings is the creative imagination.
It's the one thing that truly separates us from other beings on the planet. We have the power to create new selves all of the time. I'm not trying to fix broken people. This is a terrible paradigm for helping people. I treat people as whole beings. My job is to peel away all of the stuff that no longer serves you so that you are free to become the person you've always wanted to be.
How can people activate their heroic alter ego?
The first place to start is the context. You are always building an identity for a field of play. This is the healthiest thing that you can do. What I'm about to say will confront some people's beliefs about what it means to be a whole self. For the longest time, the world of psychology held the belief that people with optimal mental health were those who had a single self that they identified with. The reality is that we have a single body. However, my body carries many selves.
The multiple self-theory is now the fastest growing area of study n psychology. It is now understood that the people who have and identify with multiple identities, based on context (ie. me as a business person, friend, husband, etc.) are the people who have good mental health.
I work with high-achievers and high-performers all day long.
I bring out my challenger personality when I'm working with clients and trying to break old paradigms and push them forward in life. However, the last thing that my children want is a challenger personality when I get home. How do you think that works for people when you bring that self home? It creates a ton of problems. Your wife or husband isn't going to like it. They want fun and playful Dad. I know that those qualities live inside of me. If I don't, I instantly defy what it means to be a human being.
In the 20 years that you’ve worked with peak performers, what are some key beliefs that you’ve observed?
The alter ego helps us show up in full form. One of the top soccer players in the world has been a client of mine. He has a fundamental frame of mind that he's offended by the people who show up on the field. He believes that they shouldn't be sharing the grass with him, so to speak. He's not saying this in the press conference. However, he believes this to be true.
Because of this belief, his line of thinking is, “I am going to destroy you on the field.”
When you think about this mindset in the context of performance, it definitely helps him perform at a peak level. He has a fantastic ability to live in context. On the pitch, it worked for him. However, when that attitude spread outside of the field into his personal life, it didn't work so well. I helped him evolve that identity into being more than just who he was on the field.
Entrepreneurs fall prey to this as well. They only describe themselves as entrepreneurs. Is that all of your identity? I'm an entrepreneur, but I'm also a Dad, a lover, and a husband. There are so many people that I get to be.
How do peak performers develop an unwavering belief in themselves and their abilities?
I've come across a lot of people who could easily be the best in the world at their craft. However, there is some sort of block that they have that holds them back. All they are doing is chopping down their own tree and diminishing their confidence. Peak performers constantly up level the people around them. They understand that having great quality people in their lives is only going to help serve them in moving forward.
The dumbest decision that I made was wanting to climb the mountain of success on my own.
I wanted to plant that flag at the top and show everyone else that I could do it. It was stupid, slow and arrogant of me. It wasn't until I got into mentorship at a young age that I got it. I realized that it was so much easier and more enjoyable. I could pick up the phone and call someone who has already done what I want to do.
Harvey Dorfman was my mentor. He's known as the Yoda of baseball. One of the greatest mental game coaches ever. He wrote the Bible of the industry. I tucked myself under his wing for 33 days. He started passing me pro clients almost immediately. It would have taken me a lot longer to create that kind of success. Even more, I got to see him work with some of the biggest pros of all time. All of a sudden, I started seeing what their big issues were. It wasn't even the stuff on the field. Rather, it was 80% of their mental game.
You want to surround yourself with great people.
When I was leaving the farm my Mom said to me, “Whatever you want to do, just find whoever is the best at it and learn from them.” I've always had that mindset. It's how I choose the vendors, suppliers, and partners that we work with. Having amazing mentors and allies is very important.
However, you've also got to do the internal work to grow and become more.
The root of this concept was first penned by Marcus Tullius Cicero, who was a great Roman philosopher and statesman. In 44 B.C., he wrote a letter to a friend and said, “The alter ego is the other eye or trusted friend.” The alter ego becomes the ally that helps you go and do!
Can you share your thoughts on the importance of goal-setting?
Everyone knows why goal-setting is important. Over the course of 90 days, in the context of one area, you should only have one goal. This is what will allow you to organize so much of your focus, time, and resources. The enemy to performance is more. Working on 8 different projects or starting 3 different businesses is impossible. This will never get you to where you want to go. It's about subtraction, deletion, and removal. Move towards one goal. This will help you make a decision around your other projects.
Can you tell people more about your 90 Day Year program?
The 90 Day Year program is what I use with athletes to help them scale up their skills fast. I focus on the one skill that, if we worked on this, is going to bring your performance up by a magnitude of many degrees. Most athletes work at multiple skills at once. This ends up slowing you down, whereas focusing on one skill is powerful. When I started getting asked to work in the corporate world, I saw how many things people were working on.
I realized that I needed to help these people strip things away.
Inside our program, we start with a diagnostic that runs through the 5 main pillars of business – marketing/sales, products, operations/technology, finance, and people/leadership. Every business has these pillars. We ask people questions about each pillar. The powerful part of this process is that you start to diagnose for yourself what is the most important thing for you to be working on in your business.
The moment it becomes your idea, you will own it. However, if I'm telling you to do it, you may argue against it. Peak performance is about developing a plan of action from where you are standing right now. This allows us to plot a path forward, for you. Success is all about sequencing – doing the right thing at the right time.
What inspired you to write your new book?
I've been working with the concept of the alter ego for 16 years now. It was always my secret sauce. It's what I've been known for in the elite sports industry. I told a mutual friend of ours, Tucker Max about my idea. He said that I was an idiot if I didn't write a book. I'm dyslexic which is one of the big reasons why I never wanted to write. It took me a few years to unpack it and put it together but I'm happy I did. I ended up signing with Harper Collins. My editor is a superstar and he pulled a great book out of me.
Are you ready to create a heroic alter ego to transform your life?
There’s only one person in the way of you unleashing your true potential in life, and that person is you. Get out of your own way so that you can become a peak performer in every area of your life. The hero inside of you is waiting to be unleashed. Now is the time to step into your power and become the best version of yourself.
In the words of Todd himself, “Our ability to truly tap into our creative imagination so that we can do the things that we most want to do, or experiment with different parts of our self, is truly unique to us and an alter ego helps to untap that.”
Are you ready to activate your heroic alter ego?