jcsteadman · 21 days ago

I'm currently reading the book, Alter Ego and I think it will be very helpful for me. I struggle deeply with insecurities when it comes to much of my life. Not so much how I'll be perceived by others, but how I'll perceive myself should I not live up to my own expectations. I expect a lot from myself, and I think of myself as 'special' - a common trapping of those with some skill and no real challenges in their lives. I know I'm 'special' in some ways - everyone is - but I know I'm not some kind of pariah.

But, I like to think I can achieve more than I can at the moment. My problem then lies in not acting, because inaction means I can't actually see how I perform. This is a much safer, passive way to fail, and I can brush off much of the doubt in my mind with flimsy excuses based on externalities. "Oh, the economy was bad last year, so there was no way I could've grown the business"; "the weather was very damp that month, so the painting hadn't fully dried yet - that's why the blending isn't good"; "I only had an hour to get it all done, so I haven't really edited it"; and so on. All excuses blaming other things, rather than me just saying, "well, I tried my best and it's not that good, but I'll learn from this try and do it better when I try again."

In sport, that's what I do, and I perform quite well. But even there, I'll sometimes fall into the same trap.

In business, and in my hobbies, I'm so scared of making the wrong choice or looking like an idiot that I'd rather do nothing. Being passive in business, especially, is killing me at the moment. Which is where this new book comes in. I'm thinking I have a pen name for 'me' in the business. That way I can say whatever I think will be right, and if it's wrong, it's 'him' that got it wrong and 'him' that will be have to explain 'his' thinking and win people over again. And at the end of the day, 'I' will be shielded from the majority of these insecurities which are necessary for any level of high-performance in this field.

I've thought about this every so often, before hearing about this book, but in the sense of, "what would X do in this situation?". Then simply following the steps I think that person would do, as myself. That got me through much of the early years of my work. 'I' wasn't making the decision, 'X' was (based on what I knew about their decision-making choices etc.). I still do this every now and then when I'm in a bind and I can't make up my mind. It doesn't happen often anymore, simply because I've been doing what I do long enough now that I'm incredibly opinionated on anything within my field of expertise, but it's certainly helpful as a fall-back option.

I'm only a fifth way through the book, so there really isn't much for me to go off in terms of things I can start implementing now, but the premise that I create an 'alter ego' who embodies the person I'd like to see myself as had I no fears etc. is already empowering. I can see the potential, and I will be going 'all in' with this to see the differences it makes in my own life. In my personal life, I think I'm fine. I don't really care how I'm perceived all that much simply because I know what I like now and I laugh off or make a joke of it when people question me, rather than being defensive or making excuses. But in my work life, it's a major impediment to my progress and success. I've lost years, I imagine, of real forward movement in my work because of this; preferring instead to keep comfortable within the small area I know intimately. Because really, it's only when I'm forced out of my comfort zone by a new project where I then make a little bit of ground, making my comfort zone just that little bit bigger, a small step at a time. With this 'alter ego', I feel like I can add paces, then leaps of new space into my comfort zone as I extend myself further and discover that the world really isn't as scary as I've made it up to be and that people really aren't going to burn me at the stake if I get a few things wrong every now and then.

So, I'm aiming to finish the book today or tomorrow and then I'll change my routines and add in whatever steps the author recommends to make a real go of it in my day-t0-day. I'm feeling hopeful about this.

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