Authenticity & Alter Egos: Compatible or Conflict?


The real you. The authentic you. We are commonly told to be authentic in business today. Especially for those who are entrepreneurial, small business owners and creative warriors, we are told that being authentic is the only real way to create trusting and lasting relationships. And it's true. In fact, more important than knowing what you do is the connection you set forth to who you are and why you do what you do. That connection- the portrayal of the authentic you- can be the foundation for success.

But there's also been a lot of conversation lately about alter egos. So, where does the concept of creating an alter ego fit into being authentic?

It sounds as if the two concepts are mutually exclusive and inherently in conflict. Before there's too much confusion about this, I'd like to point out that this is definitely not the case. Creating an alter ego, i.e., a character or way of thinking of yourself that accentuates, magnifies, even exaggerates the authentic you is perhaps the greatest tool you can use on your journey to uncovering the true you. You already are authentic. It is not something you become but rather something you uncover. Your authentic self can be covered up by fears, insecurities, and a professional facade. An alter ego provides the conduit for peeling back the skin, much like peeling back the many layers of an onion, to reveal your most magnetic and authentic self.

How does one begin to pull back the layers to authenticity with the help of an alter ego? As an example, when I first started as a professional speaker, I knew that I had to dig a bit deeper in order to reveal my authentic self. It's not that I wasn't going to be honest and sincere; I just knew being an introvert by nature, that my nervousness and overwhelming desire to be professional might come across as uptight, too restrained, or even worse-- totally uninteresting. I knew that I might need some assistance in drawing out the confident, self-assured me, the guy who could create a true connection with an audience. I didn't want to "put on an act" and be someone else, but I needed help in accentuating and exaggerating that confident me who I knew was within. I needed to create an alter ego; the most confident version of myself that would show up on stage.

Employing your alter ego allows you to own who you are. It encourages you to let down your guard, to let go of your fears, and to become aware and proud of what makes you unique. And as business owners and entrepreneurs, those who are successful in business make their uniqueness the core of their marketing message. Since the ultimate goal is to turn what makes you unique into a profitable business, it follows that you need to uncover that uniqueness. An alter ego is often just the tool you may need; it grants you permission to be bolder and to exaggerate the unique aspects of your authentic self that make you stand out and be a standout!

An alter ego can serve as the perfect transitional tool you need as you gain confidence and become more comfortable being your authentic self. The addition of an alter ego affords you the time and comfort you need to "uncover the you" that's been there all along. You play the part, the super-hero in you, that you need to be in order to become you. In time, the integration of alter ego and your authentic self becomes seamless. You just "are" that. Mind you, this is not the same as "fake-it-til-you-make it." You aren't creating a facade or pretending to be something you are not. Your alter ego is a part of who you already are while you are gaining the confidence to be that person [you want to be] all the time. Boldly and confidently. Once you peel back those layers and the world sees you and your authentic self, they'll want more-- of you and all that makes you and your business interesting, desirable, and successful.

Remember, whoever you are now is someone you need to be. He or she is someone who is already a part of you, and that alter ego will undoubtedly bring you to the ultimate grand and long-awaited exposé of the true, the one-and-only, authentic you.

"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~Oscar Wilde