alter ego effect

In the call towards greater levels of authenticity, have you considered your alter ego’s role? 

Who would that be? 

If you’re a leader in any capacity, and a follower of the Leadership and Loyalty Podcast, you’ve heard my guests and I talk about the power of authenticity a number of times. You’ve also heard us talk about the confusion around what it really means to be “authentic”. That’s why I’ve traveled the globe to speak about finding our own “Dragon-Fire”, sharing about becoming purpose-focused in order to fulfill your own deep greatness.

To succeed at any level you have no doubt had the “crab in a bucket” experience. This is where as much as you want something else, something beyond status quo, others may do their best to keep you where you are.  Unfortunately, this “deep greatness”, which is your most authentic self, is often something that society pushes back against because it can be perceived as a threat (even though it’s not). 

So, what if you thought of the greatest part of yourself as YOUR alter ego? Rather than assuming that your “other side” is something you need to be ashamed of and hide, what if you could finally embrace it and live fully in your own authentic greatness? 

I recently had a totally enlightening conversation with someone who fully understands what it means to create, embrace and fulfill their Alter Ego.  A little background: Todd Herman is an author, performance advisor, and an entrepreneur. For 22 years, his training company, Herman Performance Systems, has focused on helping achievers and ambitious people in sports & business achieve wildly outrageous goals while enjoying the process. Todd is originally from Alberta, Canada, where he grew up on a large farm and ranch and developed a healthy dislike of chicken coops. Todd’s company provides a suite of programs serving Olympic athletes, entrepreneurs, and leaders. Todd is also a recipient of the Inc. 500 fastest growing companies award. He’s been featured on the Today Show, Sky Business News, Inc Magazine and CBC National News. Todd lives in New York City with his wife and three young children and is currently the world’s worst ukulele player. He is the author of the bestselling book: The Alter Ego Effect: The Power of Secret Identities to Transform Your Life. More at

Authenticity = Vulnerability 

One of the most sidestepped and profound integrations of TRUE authenticity is that it has its roots in vulnerability. Too many people don’t understand that! We want to go out into the world and present our “best” selves…but that often means we are using bravado to present a fake version of who we are trying to be. (We’ve all seen the “busted” Instagram photos.)

That is NOT authenticity!

To show up and be authentic, you absolutely have to tap into the full strength and power of who you really are. And contrary to what you may have assumed about alter egos in the past…

That best version of you is actually your alter ego.

The reality is, your alter ego actually IS your better self. It’s not the mask, or bravado-filled self that we tend to put forward first. It is the true version of who we really are.

Todd shares that a huge part of his work is to peel back the veil and help people understand how others and themselves actually are. By revealing the truth, he can help people move into the space of owning their true self and entering their deeper greatness.

Another note about authenticity: 

Sometimes we use words as virtue signalling devices. We love to say we were being “authentic” as an excuse for anything we say or do…rather than pushing into our true selves and actually being vulnerable enough to be honestly authentic.

Q: Have you considered how you may have inadvertently used the idea of authenticity to keep hiding your true self?

It’s a question few have the courage to even consider asking themselves… but it’s incredibly powerful for those who do.

The Darkest Parts of the Soul

In my work with the best of the best, I speak about the power of becoming a Dragon Leader. As such we guide them in turning into, rather than away from their own “Dragon Fire”, because the evidence is that our greatness lies in walking into the darkest part of our own souls.

It is an absolutely necessary task for us to face the darkest parts of ourselves if we want to move forward. This is NOT a concept, this takes real courage!

We must embrace our inner darkness in order to confront it. When we confront our darkness, our dragon fire, we must do so with love and compassion. We cannot shame, blame, or hate ourselves for doing what we did in order to survive whatever we felt threatened by.

Rather than fighting against something that cannot be boxed up, killed off. We have to learn how to embrace and love even the darkest parts of ourselves.

(For an amazing conversation about the mantra my teacher gave me that changed my life, listen to the full episode!)

One way of I would encourage you to consider your “alter ego” is not as a mask you put on, but a mask you take off as you move closer to your true self.

Todd shares that our alter ego can be a way for us to try on new ways of being. There are no rules about how you have to be, how you have to interact, or how you have to understand alter egos and the Self. He shares that we are not static; we are more like a flowing rivers than statues.

When we choose to enter the darkest parts of our souls, we can finally “open the dam” and live in the fullness that is available to us.

Q – What part of yourself needs to finally be loved?

Battling Your Own Demons

Todd shares that his own inner demons were born from a place of shame.

During our conversation, Todd noted that as a child who experienced sexual abuse, he felt broken from the experience. He was scared that he would be disowned for his own abuse, and believed he could not be loved or accepted.

Todd spoke with raw honesty about how he feels his mistake was in keeping that secret and not getting help for years. 

His own awakening came from a simple conversation with his little daughter; when she asked him about his happiness, it opened his eyes to the level of shame and guilt he was living in. Furthermore, the way those toxic levels of shame were impacting not only himself, but those around him.

He believes that facing that episode down and finally pushing into it gave him the superpowers he now has. His compassion and concern for others fully manifested once he was able to face the darkest parts of his own history.

We are all a bit sneaky in the ways in which we find to avoid what we ultimately must face. However, your own methods for facing your Dragon Fire will be specific to you. You may try counseling, coaching, meditation, or some other combination. Just know this; most people are walking around carrying someone else’s pain and shame. 

The important thing is that you seek out the help you need to address the trauma in your life. Don’t allow unhealthy coping mechanisms and shame to keep you chained to old ways of being.

Also, don’t rely solely on yourself to work through your hardships… No one makes it alone!

Nobody is objective in a subjective reality. 

I believe it is absolutely vital that you seek out someone with objectivity who can help guide you from the outside. It is impossible to see the water when you’re a fish, and we are ALL fish swimming in our own somewhat unique pool of darkness, in some areas of our lives!

Q – What secrets are keeping you trapped in your shame? Who can help you process them?

Find Your Purpose

I want to share something profound, something that, if let in, can transform your very way of being in the world. 

Your purpose is hidden in your pain…

But standing guard over your pain is your ego. ~Dov Baron

To find your purpose you have to move your ego out of the way and finally explore your pain. When you do this, you will find that you become driven from a place of service and passion. Instead of being propelled by your pain, you’re fueled by it.

The past is leaking all over your present; it is NOT separate from you. 

When you finally face your trauma and darkness, you will finally be transformed into someone who can achieve their true purpose in life. (And if you don’t, your past will leak all over your future as well.)

Todd shares that it’s natural for kids to play with alter egos and version of themselves. It’s a way of dissociating from our limitations. As we learn story and narrative, we start to learn more about ourselves. This can create a lot of entanglement!

When we try to face that all head on, we can easily get entangled and lose a sense of self.

When we use our creativity and imaginations to journey through our lives, we can find playful ways to interact with not only our alter ego, but also our pain, and our transformation.

The mic is yours: What inner demons do you need to face down in order to finally embrace your alter ego and your deeper greatness?

Dov Baron is first and foremost “The Dragonist”. As The Dragonist, he teaches us how to recognize, find, retain and nurture dragons (top talent) hidden within our organizations. 

Want to learn more about what Dov has to offer, and how you too can become a Dragonist in your realm? If you and your leadership team are dedicated to getting the result you set out to achieve in the most meaningful manner, bring Dov in to speak to your organization about the strategic advantages of Dragon Leadership. Go here to get started.

Copyright: Dov Baron International 2020



  • @TheDovBaron

    Inc Magazine top 100 leadership speaker, Inc #1 Podcast for Fortune 500 Executives, Entrepreneur Mag contributor, Leadership Strategist, Storyteller.

    Dov Baron

    Dov Baron is “The Dragonist”, guiding us in how to recognize and nurture dragons (the top talent) hidden in our organizations. A Dragon Leader is not a position; it’s someone who is always pushing to improve and wants those they serve to reach their full potential.   Dov’s humour and no-BS style is contagious. As a master storyteller, he is considered to be the leading authority on actualized leadership. Actualized leadership means getting the result you set out to achieve in the most meaningful manner.   Working with diverse leaders and executive teams, Dov filters common bonds to create Fiercely Loyal cultures. You can’t achieve loyalty without “meaning”, and talent only stays when they feel they are a part of something larger than themselves.    Besides being a bestselling author of One Red Thread and Fiercely Loyal: How High Performing Companies Develop and Retain Top Talent, Dov has been named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers to Hire and as one of the Top 30 Global Leadership Gurus. He has spoken to the United Nations, The World Management Forum (Iran), The New York National Speakers Association, and The Servant Leadership Institute.    In June 1990, while free rock climbing, Dov fell approximately 120 feet and landed on his face. The impact shattered most of the bone structure of his face. After ten reconstructive surgeries, no external evidence remains; however, this experience wasn’t just life-changing, it was completely transformational. Dov shares how Dragons are born in fire. Experiences that could potentially destroy you can, instead, birth purpose, passion, and the hunger to champion others. We can learn to nurture the Dragon Fire in ourselves, our families, our communities, and our companies.    Dov believes the world needs more "Dragon Leaders" committed to living their purpose, standing in their truth, and empowering others to find their fire and do the same.