Hello my friends.
How amazing would it be to always feel at ease, self-assured and confident when you need it most: Before the speech, the job interview, or the unexpected pitch?
Wouldn’t you love to exude authority and kindness instead of frustrated rage in the face of teen back-talk, or a heated discussion with a colleague or loved one?
What if there was a way to summon your most lucid, heart-centered insights and then project it onto others through your body stance, movement, and tone of voice?
GREAT news. There is. It’s all in a book by Amy Cuddy called Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. I’ve been devouring its contents and reflecting on my own path to discovering a more powerful, poised me.
Three key takeaways:
- Pose for presence, everyday. It only takes a few minutes, seconds even. No need for yoga class, fancy tools or props. All you need is you. When you shift your thinking at the start of the day, you’ll be more likely to bring your “boldest, most authentic self to whatever challenge you face.” Pump yourself up at home where there is plenty of space and privacy, or in an elevator, bathroom stall, even a stairwell or hallway will do!
- Present yourself with good posture and mind it throughout the day. Sit up or stand up straight, shoulders back and chest open. Breathe slowly and deeply. Keep your chin neutral. Avoid “closing off” positions like crossing your legs or arms. In habitual positions like driving, notice the tendency to contract — your shoulders might roll forward slightly and back may slump; instead, lift the center of your chest, draw your belly in and relax your tailbone. If you’re looking into a screen like on a smartphone or laptop, elevate the device to ensure you avoid the “iHunch” position (which is like adding 60 pounds of pressure on your neck! Yikes).
- If you can’t physically do the power pose, imagine yourself in it. When we simply think about an empowering physical posture, we can improve our cognitive function and trigger more positive self-talk.
The other day I was asked to help a 28 year old with no idea what to do with her life. She viewed me as having it all together, and said she wanted to be like me when she “grew up.”
Before I answered, I took a walk down memory lane.
I studied and got involved in politics in the late 1980s because of a strong desire to help others. At 28, I left a job I loved with the Governor of Massachusetts to step into the role of Chief of Staff to the then Lt. Governor of New York, Betsy McCaughey.
At the time, I was terrified and even a little panic-stricken. But something inside me spurred me on. Without knowing why or how, I found the courage to take the leap and prepared myself for life in the big city of New York. Two months later, I was asked to move upstate to the New York State Capitol with then Governor Pataki. Divine breadcrumbs led me to meet the love of my life.
I would have never chosen Albany, New York. And I didn’t know any other way to be but myself.
But six children later, I started to lose that poise. I felt myself coming undone, first only sometimes and then more often. I was depressed, and felt guilty about feeling depressed. Once the kids were in school, I shifted gears and began to study yoga. There was something so simple and profound about the movements, the postures, the breathing.
Yoga made me feel better not only in my body, but in my spirit. My sense of purpose and comfortable confidence slowly returned, and a transformed Lisa emerged.
Yoga was my entry point to finding my own presence and accessing my power, but it was a long journey. And while it’s the core of what I teach my clients now, it’s not the only way. And that’s why I LOVE Amy and what she teaches. Her work is fascinating, scientifically backed, and beautifully logical and doable.
Here are the golden nuggets I’ve found from Amy’s work. Try any combination of these poses for two minutes, and I promise you’ll feel a shift:
- Mountain Pose (your foundation): Stand with your feet separated hip width or slightly farther apart. Root into both feet, allowing the weight of your body to be equally distributed through the mounds of your big toes, pinky toes and both sides of each heel. Then, relax your tailbone down toward the earth. Feel your pelvis move into a neutral position, with your belly button gently drawing in toward your spine while you begin to breathe deeper, slower.
Relax your shoulders away from your ears, shrugging them a few times up, back, and down again to loosen up any tension. Feel your fingertips gently relax at your side. Your spine is long, chin neutral and you’ll begin to feel a lift from the crown of your head as you root down through your feet. Root to rise.
- Option A: Wonder Woman (or Superman). From Mountain pose, shift into one of Cuddy’s signature Power Poses by widening your stance and taking your fists to your hips. Lift your heart by extending your chest out towards the sky. Your chin may lift a little naturally. Feel the energy rising through your body, and maybe raise the corners of your mouth into a little smile.
- Option B: Starfish (or Victory Pose). Reach your arms up and out at a diagonal until they are in a wide V shape. Then, spread your fingers out and relax your shoulder blades toward your spine. If it feels good, find a slight backbend by lifting your heart, chin, and gaze toward the sky. This version can also be done lying down, like before getting up in the morning. Stretch your arms and legs long, breathe deeply in and out; it’s a great way to start the day!
“Expanding your body language — through posture, movement, and speech — makes you feel more confident and powerful, less anxious and self-absorbed, and generally more positive.” Amy Cuddy, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges
Get her book and learn all the power poses and (totally engaging) science behind it here: Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.
No time to read, but want to dig deeper? I’d love to have a Lifeyum session with you. Get on my calendar here: Complimentary Discovery Call
In the comments below tell me what you liked most about your power pose.
Or head to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and share this with your friends. We all need to find our presence, right?