#1672 Superman + Clark Kent

Which One’s the Alter Ego?

My friend Todd Herman wrote a great book called The Alter Ego Effect.

Sub-title: “The Power of Secret Identities to Transform Your Life.”

It’s fantastic.

(Check out the Notes here and get a copy of the book here.)

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite Ideas from the book.

Let’s get straight to work.

Todd tells us: “I’ve always been fascinated by comics, comic book heroes, and the worlds they live in. The origin stories, the villains, and the epic battles always found a way to draw me into their worlds. As a kid, I loved the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. Today people might laugh at those 1980s productions compared to the epic rebirth of superhero movies happening now, but back in the day, they were awesome.”

Then he says: “Here’s a riddle for you: Everyone knows that Superman and Clark Kent are the same. But which one is the alter ego?”

He tells us that he’s asked that question for the last twenty years “countless times in front of audiences around the world, and 90 percent of the audience immediately yell out, ‘SUPERMAN!’”

Then he says: “It sounds right. Because when you think of ‘alter egos,’ you think of superpowers, heroism, and epic battles. All the qualities of a superhero like Superman. Except—it’s wrong.

The alter ego isn’t Superman; it’s Clark Kent. Superman is the real person. He created the alter ego, mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, as a useful persona to go unnoticed day-to-day on earth and blend in to help him achieve a crucial goal: understanding humans.

Superman would flip between his alter ego and the S on his chest at precisely the moments when he needed each persona the most.”

I read that passage with a choir of angels singing in the background.

Quick recap then we’ll cue the angels.

Superman and Clark Kent.

We all know they’re the same.


Which one is the “real” person and which one is the alter ego?

Alas, although 90% of the people to whom Todd asks this question say that Superman is the alter ego, they get it backward.

The REAL person is Superman. The fumbling Clark Kent is the alter ego.

Enter that choir of angels moment.

Although Todd is making a slightly different point in this context, my mind immediately went to our endless discussions about optimizing so we can more consistently express the best version of ourselves as we make Aristotle proud by high-fiving our inner daimons en route to eudaimonic flourishing.


Today’s +1…

I ask YOU...

Which is the REAL you?

The soul-level inspired Superyou or the fumbling fearful Clark Kent-ish you?

* Insert Jeopardy music here *

To help us answer the question, let’s bring Eric Butterworth in to the discussion.

Here’s what he has to say in Discover the Power Within You: “You may say, ‘But I am only human.’ This is the understatement of your life. You are not only human—you are also divine in potential. The fulfillment of all your goals and aspirations in life depends upon stirring up and releasing more of that divine potential. And there is really nothing difficult about letting this inner light shine. All we must do is correct the tendency to turn off our light when we face darkness.”

Flip the switch.

Activate YOUR Heroic potential.


P.S. Speaking of 1980’s Christopher Reeves Superman… Here’s a little +1 on How Clark Kent Becomes Superman in 11 Seconds you might enjoy… Talk about FLIPPING THE SWITCH! 😲🤯

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