Power poses: An amazing discovery
Last week I attended a talk with Amy Cuddy. I first discovered her on Ted, the leading platform for speakers. Ted is where I first came across Amy Cuddy and power poses. When I found out she was speaking in Perth, I couldn’t resist.
Amy is a fantastic speaker, and I recommend you watch her Ted Talk and buy her book “Presence”. I will share some of the notes I have taken because it perfectly aligns with the things I have learned over the last two decades.
I often speak to people about how mindset and personal boundaries lead to specific behaviours and outcomes. Amy adds an extra layer, a new starting point. Another element that allows you to influence your success: your body and posture.
Being your authentic self
The core of Amy’s talk is about using power poses to be present so you can perform at your best. We often struggle to stay in the present moment because of dread, anxiety and regret. To stay in the present moment, you need composure, calm confidence and satisfaction. This state of mind is required if you want to stay attuned and express your authentic self. Being your authentic self is having alignment with your core being, or what I call your authentic self. The part of you that is not defined by your job, function or role. It is the composite of all your skills, talents and wisdom.
We aren’t authentic if we are lying. You words may tell a lie, but you body will tell the truth.
The art of being present
To be present is to believe in your story, to convey confidence without arrogance. The result is that you communicate harmoniously.
I want to stress Amy’s comment about confidence and arrogance. So often I hear people refer to others as arrogant. I am convinced that often people confuse confidence and arrogance. Confidence is a tool to get things done. Arrogance is a weapon to attack and intimidate others.
When you feel powerful
- You have a sense of power. Feelings that are positive, powerful and that create opportunity. Your thoughts will be more creative, and even your IQ goes up.
- Your behaviour changes. You step forward and become more assertive for yourself and others. Feeling powerful, lets you help others.
- Your physiology changes. It lowers your cortisol, which means you get to live longer, and your immunity improves.
Power is often a word with negative connotations. But Amy Cuddy is talking about power without taking away control from others. I like to add that those who are authentic, possess this power to create an alignment with the core of who they are.
Tracking the mind and body connection
Power reveals itself in your body. As does powerlessness. Body language communicates emotions. The mind and body are continually conversing. That is how you can track the mind using the body connection.
Feeling powerless and shame go hand in hand. If you are powerless, your body says “fight, flee or fight.” Feeling powerless blocks presence. Without a sense of power, your body contracts. You try to make yourself as small as possible. See what happens in the animal kingdom when one animal attacks another. Crossing your arms and your legs are all examples of making yourself small.
Power cultivates presence. The body expands. You see this in the animal kingdom too. The perfect example being a peacock.
Stop managing the impression you make on others. Start focusing on the impression you make on yourself.
Strengthen yourself, get ready and connect.
How can you start using power poses to prepare for situations where you need to be confident? Job interviews, presentations, meetings and sales pitches are all situations that can benefit from power poses.
Hold power poses for two minutes. They will give you confidence, and they will make you feel powerful, confident and in charge. The result is that you will convey yourself with pride, presence and pose.
Stress shows in your body as slouching. After Amy’s talk, I went to the gym, and I noticed that between exercises I was slouching. Now I make a conscious effort to walk around holding a power pose.
Expanding yourself is about taking up space, expressing ideas and showing strength. If nothing else, it is about showing respect to yourself, so you perform better.
How to use power poses to prepare yourself and create presence:
- Prepare with BIG Poses
- Present with a good and open posture.
- Mind your posture throughout the day.
- Attend to the practice regularly.
Fake it till you become it. Tiny tweaks become big changes.
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