A long time ago, in a blogosphere far, far away. A small nerd named Steve Kamb wrote about a post about becoming a comic book hero.
It’s woefully out of date, and he’s the worst person I know, but surprisingly it’s a decent concept – so I thought I’d update it with an IMPOSSIBLE take on the concept as it’s one I’ve used a lot over the years – one that comes especially helpful in the midst of an impossible challenge.
How to Create Your Superhero Alter Ego
Table of Contents
Create Your Character
First – you gotta have a name. After starting IMPOSSIBLE in 2010, people took to calling me “Mr. IMPOSSIBLE” so it seemed like a good fit.
I even registered the name – Mr Impossible – to make it official. It also makes it actually impossible to back down from a challenge because people will throw it back in your face “what, it’s not impossible?” I should have thought about that a while ago.
A good name is equal parts descriptive of who you are today and who the person you want to choose to be daily.
Ideally, it’s also dope. You don’t want a name like the “Absorbing Man”, “Bouncing Boy”, or Super Steve” (what Steve calls himself, seriously).
While you’re at it, go ahead and pick out your standard outfit and colors while you’re at it. My standard outfit is an IMPOSSIBLE shirt, and you can likely find me in my civilian clothes in dark blue or black shirt trying to blend into the general population.
Create Your Origin Story
That line changed my life. When you look at your life like a story – everything shifts.
But there’s an inciting incident in every character’s life that shifts them from who they are being to who they become.
- Spiderman get bits by a spider and his Uncle dies.
- Captain America gets stuck with super serum.
- The Punisher had his family gunned down by the mob.
Bad news, typically things get worse before they get better, but those bad times have a way of turning into the mission gong forward.
For me, it was literally months of wishing that things didn’t seem so IMPOSSIBLE. Now it seems that’s the only types of challenges that have interest to me.
Look back through your life and connect the themes (most people don’t do this). Find out where things “changed.” If you’re not sure, and you’re stuck, maybe right now, then maybe this is the start.
Find an Arch Nemesis
It seems like everyone on the internet is living in la-la land.
Here’s a contrarian take. You don’t need more friends. You don’t need a support circle. You don’t need people holding hands singing kumbaya. You need an arch nemesis. Someone on your level that pushes you to be better, but you won’t stop trying to beat :).
I started writing this part, but unfortunately enough Steve already broke this down really well here:
Somebody who is at a relatable level in their physical or professional lives. It doesn’t matter if you need to lose weight and your nemesis is trying to gain weight, or one of you is self-employed and the other is climbing the corporate ladder. What’s important is that you’re both interested in bettering your life.
Somebody that is driven and competitive – it’s no use having an arch-nemesis that is content with sucking at life. You need somebody that desperately wants a better life for himself/herself and his family.
Somebody that knows your kryptonite – we all have faults that keep us from leveling up our lives. Make sure your arch-nemesis knows what you struggle with so they can call you out when you’re using it as a crutch.
Somebody you trust to tell you the truth. You probably already have plenty of people in your life who will support you no matter what and keep you happy. You need somebody that’s gonna tell you that you’re not living up to your potential, that you’re getting complacent, that your idea is pure crap! Tough love for the win!
Somebody you can have fun with – although this arch-nemesis will keep you honest and call you out when you’re slacking, it’s also important that you can have fun with them – unless you’re really crazy and want to pick somebody you REALLY hate…that might get interesting.
Somebody you can stay in close touch with – at least once a week. Tell your arch nemesis to hold you accountable for your goals. Tell him/her that you’re going to work out three times this week or you will pay him/her 50 bucks and run around your neighborhood in a pink speedo. Your nemesis exists to hold you accountable for your actions or inaction – back when Saint transformed himself, we would talk DAILY about his goals and struggles.via NerdFitness
It seems these days that everyone is either lavishly empty praise or straight-up ruins people lives on the internet. People are often too nice to each other online. I think you need more people you “hate.”
Best friends hold each other accountable, bust each other’s balls and motivate to make each other better. They don’t just empty-smile and gladhand each other all the time.
You even see Daredevil and Punisher team up to save New York if they need to get the job done. They might have their own ways of going about things, and they still hate each other, but they’re not stupid.
Find an arch nemesis. Do your best to beat them, but let them make you better.
Write Down Your Code
Writing down and stating out your code is a game changer.
This is (as Nir would say) an identity pact with yourself.
Write down who you are and how you operate.
When push comes to shove, what’s your default? What’s your line in the sand? When you want to give up – how are you going to operate?
“What should I do next?” is a hard, nebulous question with no right answer when you come up against an impossible challenge?
“What would Mr. Impossible do?” is a much simpler question.
The answer is tougher, but you know the answer immediately.
- He would not sit on the couch.
- He would not complain.
- He would not make excuses.
- He would not not give up when things get hard.
- He would dive into the challenge and laugh at the difficulty the whole time.
This is one of the most underrated things you can do. Almost all superheroes, anti-heroes (even pirates) have some sort of code. Whether or not, they write it down or not – they do internalize this.
This is a list of how you operate. The list of things you won’t compromise on.
When you know what you won’t compromise on, it makes it easier to prioritize and re-ground yourself when other opportunities come up, you’re tempted to get distracted or when you want to quit.
A few things for me:
- I take care of my body. Without your health, you have nothing.
- I keep me word – if I say I’m going to do it, I will do it.
- I don’t like to turn down a challenge.
- I show up when needed.
- I am not always the strongest, fastest or smartest – but I can out-suffer you.
There’s more, but the point is that you understand what drives your character. Then embody those characteristics.
It comes in real handy when you want to check out and be an everyday person running around your daily routine.
Bonus: Get a Tag Line
A bonus item – not required – is to get a tag line. Keep it short.
This is extra-cool if there’s a camera filming your exploits as you get to mutter your tag line before going beast mode.
When you want to check out, go back to being an every day person, start playing it comfortable, whisper your tag line to yourself.
And remind yourself of who the hell you are.
- He doesn’t shy away from a challenge.
- He keeps going.
- He figures out a way.
- He gets it done.
- He doesn’t give up.
If you want to give up – that’s fine. You’re just a weak, common, ordinary human. But your alter ego isn’t. They step up. And that’s the point.
- Build your alter ego.
- Find your origin story.
- Create your code.
- Get an arch nemesis.
- Create a tag line.
Push your limits. Do something IMPOSSIBLE.
p.s. Steve is still the worst and gives terrible fitness advice. You definitely shouldn’t subscribe to his site here.