Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could delegate all the hard stuff to someone else? In the context of business development, wouldn’t it be really, really great if someone else could approach strangers at networking opportunities, write follow-up emails, and make those uncomfortable phone calls?
The good news is that this someone exists – your own alter ego. Beyonce provided a famous example of this, when she revealed Sasha Fierce, a persona she donned before going onstage:
I turn into Sasha. I wouldn’t like Sasha if I met her off stage. She’s too aggressive, too strong, too sassy, too sexy! I’m not like her in real life at all. I’m not flirtatious and super-confident and fearless like her.
What I feel onstage I don’t feel anywhere else. It’s an out-of-body experience. I created my stage persona … so that when I go home, I don’t have to think about what it is I do. Sasha isn’t me. The people around me know who I really am.
In the non-celebrity world, I’ve heard lawyers, judges, pianists, writers, and public speakers describe using the same tactic of dissociating themselves from themselves for the duration of the high-stress, high-anxiety task in front of them.
And I’ve used it, too. I stepped into my alter ego to publish a novel and to get through the marketing activities to publicize it, to sit through annual reviews, and even for my first few depositions. While my alter ego (who has a name, and a summoning ritual, as all self-respecting alter egos do) did all the heavy lifting, I was the beneficiary of the experience. Thus, during one of the depositions, I was surprised to realize that I was no longer nervous, and that my alter ego said goodbye about five minutes into the proceedings.
We all have that alter ego. It’s that part of us that has unconventional ideas that we don’t share with the world, that secretly loves to step up to the karaoke microphone (sober), and that knows exactly what the email to a prospective client should say. So the next time you find yourself shirking the hard stuff that you know you should be doing, why not put your alter ego to work?