Why Martin Luther King wore glasses

What superpower did you wish for when you were a kid? I always wanted to fly like Superman. 

What superpower do you wish you had now?

A photo of superhero comics in a bookstore by Lena Rose. Who did you want to be?
Who did you want to be?

I’ve been catching up on one of my favourite podcasts this weekend, Youpreneur.fm. One of the episodes I listened to was a great interview by Chris Ducker with Todd Herman, who helps people to achieve their goals by developing their mindset. 

Todd has now written a book The Alter Ego Effect: the power of secret identities to transform your life. After listening to this interview, Todd’s book has gone straight to the top of my To Read list. I cannot wait to get my hands on it. 

It’s all about the stories we tell ourselves, resistance, and becoming who we are meant to be. 

Far from being something we leave behind as children, it helps us if we hold on to the ability to picture ourselves as someone else. Imagining another life in which our dreams come true and we embody the qualities we aspire to have, enables us to walk the walk along the path we desire. 

According to Todd, our alter egos can help us deal with imposter sydrome and resistance, that inner voice that tells us we can’t, when we absolutely can. 

Todd’s alter ego wears glasses. So does Todd but not because he needs help to see. The lenses are non-prescription. Todd wears glasses because when he was starting out in business he thought they gave him gravitas. They turn him into Todd the Mindset Coach. 

Whose face do you show the world?

This effect of using dress to imbue characteristics is called enclothed cognition, a term I first heard from Andy Boothman, the founder of DressCode. What we wear makes us feel differently about who we are.

Todd believed people would think he looked more intelligent if he was wearing glasses. 

So did Martin Luther King Jr. He didn’t have sight problems either. He wore glasses because he thought they made him look distinguished.  

Alter egos are not just stories. They have the power to make us believe we can be the best we can be. 

Rachel Extance (photo by Jemima Willcox)

Rachel Extance helps business tell their stories so they can reach a wider audience for their work and ideas. A professional journalist, she knows how to write stories people find relevant and engaging. If you would like help to get your message across, need someone who can write articles for you regularly, or you would like actionable ideas for how to tell more people about what you do, get in touch by emailing rachel@extance.co.uk or contact her on social media.

5 thoughts on “Why Martin Luther King wore glasses”

  1. I love that! Not wearing glasses to see, but to be seen in the desired light. It made me think of placebos – if it helps, you don’t need an excuse to use it. This is thought provoking and well done, Rachel. Thank you for sharing it.

    Made me realize that I wear glasses to see, but don’t necessarily care for the way I’m seen in them – you know, old guy in need of corrective lenses!

    • I thought it was a really interesting insight. I’ve worn glasses since I was 8-years-old and have never had a positive view of them. I even went to the trouble of getting contact lenses for my wedding day. (I’ve never worn them since!) I think you’re right about the placebo effect.

  2. My girlfriend and I wore glasses in college when we needed to dial in and write a paper, so I totally get this.

    It makes me wonder, do you think changing our mindset results in changing our actions or do our actions change our mindset?

    Also, how would Todd define an alter ego?

  3. WOW! A great quick read, and some good food for thought. Do we need to get outside of our own minds to achieve what we’re meant to achieve? Or can we embody ourselves to get there? Do we create alter-egos to achieve greatness, or can we just as easily create them to hide from ourselves? Thanks for the thought provoking piece, Rachel.

  4. It’s interesting how we perceive ourselves based on the armor we put on. On days I work from home, I still put on make up and my “work clothes.” There’s something about the act of getting ready that changes my mindset into work mode.

    I’ve also noticed when I go shopping, at say Nordstrom, I receive better customer service the more put together I am. Is it the clothes or the confidence in wearing them?

    What’s your favorite thing to put on for your mindset? What stories do you tell yourself? I’d love to hear more!

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