Wobbly knees, sweaty palms, shallow breathing. Anxiety. We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a big presentation, an exam, or a race, we get nervous, and this could make us feel powerless. And when we’re powerless, we are not present in the current situation, and that interferes with showing who we really are.
According to Amy Cuddy, renowned TED Talk speaker, there are things within our control that can help us gain personal power and ‘bring our authentic self to high stake situations.’ In other words, we can be what we want to be; can achieve what we want to achieve.
On Thursday, June 11, Amy addressed SAP employees in Silicon Valley, where she demonstrated how using “power pose” body positions can help us ‘reveal the best version of ourselves.’
I loved the presentation and here are 3 things that I will be putting into practice right away.
Do a preparatory power pose
Picture Wonder Woman – legs apart, hands on hips, chin lifted. This is a power pose. Now get into position. Hold this pose for 2 minutes. Congratulations, you just increased your testosterone levels and decreased your cortisol levels. Your body just tricked your mind into thinking you’ve already won. Check out the preparatory poses in the pre-match ‘Haka’ done by the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team. These are some really powerful poses, which may appear to be used to intimidate the competition, but really they give personal power to the team. Before my next big meeting, you’ll most definitely see me in my best Wonder Woman position, or chanting the Haka!
We all want to close the deal. We all want to get that job. We all want to win the race. Instead of focusing on the desired outcome, what if we focused on being present and enjoying the experience? Before your next presentation, get into your two-minute power pose. Know that you are prepared. Know that you have the full attention of your audience and that they want to receive your wisdom. Focus on how cool that is. Enjoy the experience. The power pose won’t make the content of your presentation better, but it does let you be your authentic self. For my next half-marathon, I’m going to enjoy the experience knowing that I ‘m ready, that I’m as good as I need to be, and that this is a race I’ve already won.
Power poses make us visible. When we’re successful we want people to know about it. That’s why you see the winning track stars throw their hands in the air as they cross the finish line first. Or why we see golfers fist pump the air after sinking a winning shot. A look at animals shows us what power poses look like without the restrictions of social norms. Alpha apes beat their chest, peacocks spread their beautiful feathers while powerless dogs tuck their tails and ill horses shirk their paddock mates. At my next meeting I’ll be seen and be sitting in the front row. Personal power means being visible.
‘Fake it until you become it’
I’ll be putting to use all the things I learned from Amy’s talk. I’ll be using power poses to ‘fake it until I become it.’ I will become the ‘best version of myself.’ As the All Blacks say, Au, au, aue hā!