January 24, 2016
BRINGING YOUR BOLDEST SELF TO YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES
by Amy Cuddy | Link to book
Her thoughts on the subject of power and influence are game-changing. They not only adjust the way you think about your presence, but they also adjust your outlook on everyday interactions.
With this in mind, I am excited to read and learn about increasing my presence; learning to bring my boldest self forward and using it every day to get better.
January 28, 2016
What is Presence?
It is important to understand the premise of this book. The underlying principle behind Cuddy’s ideas and how it can help to improve and influence your life, not surprisingly comes down to being present.
Presence is the state of being attuned to and able to comfortably express our true thoughts, feelings, values, and potential.
It other words, it is about bringing forth your best self. Presenting the self that you spent time building while being authentic and true; in this regard, you are expressing your worthiness.
The elements of Presence will help you to better understand what a completely present person looks like: Confidence, comfort level, passionate enthusiasm, self-assured enthusiasm.
When studying entrepreneurs, these elements help to further predict a person’s drive, willingness to work hard, initiative, persistence in the face of obstacles, enhanced mental activity, creativity, and the ability to identify good opportunities and novel ideas.
These elements are good predictors of someone who is authentic, whereas an inauthentic person will struggle to present all of the elements at once. Their body language and facial expressions will contradict their words.
Cuddy talks of the Synchronous Self as the key to being present. It is when our speech, facial expressions, postures, and movement align. They synchronize and focus. Presence manifests as resonant synchrony. It is authentic.
February 10, 2016
Not surprisingly, before you can truly be present, you must know thyself. The great Socrates himself was an advocate of knowing thyself and spent many years contemplating this internal struggle.
I like Cuddy’s idea regarding the self; (1) multi-faceted, not singular; (2) expressed through thoughts, feelings, values, and behaviors; and most importantly, (3) dynamic and flexible, not static and rigid.
This means that a person’s self is ever-changing and changeable.
Physical and psychological adversity shapes us. Our challenges give us insights and experiences that only we have had.
In other words, we become stronger by living a life that is hard. Words like grit, growth mindset, perseverance, and resilience all resonate with me in this regard. That is why I am a strong advocate of doing hard things and being very cautious of those things that make us overly comfortable. They are the societal traps that make us average.
Cuddy also states that you have to believe in your own story. You are the biggest advocate for yourself.
Your boldest self emerges through the experience of having full access to your values, traits, and strengths and knowing that you can autonomously and sincerely express them through your actions and interactions. That is what it means to believe in your own story.
The image of yourself in your mind is vastly important. You have to bring your best self forward if you are to be present. Create a solid identity, one that is authentic and true, that you crafted and believe in. Then express that version of yourself. It is the only way to truly make an impact.
February 15, 2016
Becoming powerful will give you more power.
The above idea came from the chapter titled How powerlessness shackles the self (and how power sets it free).
I prefer to reframe it: becoming powerful will give you more power.
When deciding to do something, we will either look at the benefits of the action or the costs of the action. When we feel more powerful, we will tend to look at the benefits. Power makes us approach. Powerlessness makes us avoid.
This means a lot to me. This is why confident people tend to do better. At a minimum, they attempt to do. Taking action is the most important thing one can do when seeking success and personal power is the catalyst for that action.
SOCIAL VERSUS PERSONAL POWER
Social power is characterized by the ability to exert dominance or control over others, whereas personal power is characterized by the freedom from the dominance of others. Both types of power are important to understand and having both is ideal.
However, personal power is the key to having presence — without it, we will not be in command of our most precious and authentic inner resources. Without personal power, we will be severely limited in our ability to act on our own beliefs, attitudes, and values.
When we possess personal power, we will always put forth our boldest, most sincere selves, regardless of the outcome. It makes us present.
How to prime yourself to be powerful.
Recall a moment in your life when you felt personally powerful. A time when you felt in control of your own psychological state — the confidence to act based on your boldest, most sincere self, with the sense that your actions would be effective. Take a few minutes to remember and reflect on that experience.
That is priming: when your psychological state is infused with feelings of confidence and strength. Basically, you put yourself into a mental state that is powerful and use that state to influence your current situation.
February 29, 2016
Decisions create confidence.
When we begin doing things, we start to develop a sense of ability.
Pleasure built upon pleasure, the certainty of my ability amplifying with each new trial.
Sometimes our minds can work against us, but we can combat that experience by taking action. There is no real division between the mind and body. Sometimes we just have to decide to do something in order to do it.
Cuddy makes note of the use of affirmations, “begin to be now what you will be hereafter” because “where our bodies lead, our minds and emotions will follow.”
What is puzzling is that these affirmations and contradict the “mind over body” mentality. The power of belief in this sense lies in doing and not in other more well-known concepts like visualization or positive self-talk.
ACTION CREATES MINDSET.
The tools we need to become present are built into our biology.
How you carry yourself- your facial expressions, your postures, your breathing- all clearly affect the way you think, feel, and behave.
HOW TO USE POWER POSES
The way you carry yourself is key to unlocking personal power.
Power posing — poses that are expansive and open, those that take up space with limbs far away from the body, increase one’s sense of personal power, boosts confidence and bring forth your abilities, courage, and skills. Power posing makes you more present.
According to Cuddy, these poses can increase power in situations ranging from mundane to the most challenging:
♦ Feeling: 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.
♦ Thinking: expanding your body causes you to think about yourself in a positive light and to trust in that self-concept. It also clears your head, making space for creativity, cognitive persistence, and abstract thinking.
♦ Acting: expanding your body frees you to approach, act, and persist.
♦ Body: expanding your body physiologically prepares you to be present; overrides your instinct to fight or flee, allowing you to be grounded, open, and engaged.
♦ Pain: expanding your body toughens you to physical pain.
♦ Performance and Presence: high power poses increase nonverbal presence. People who were present were less focused on how others might be judging or threatening them. Less tuned in to external pressures.
Your body shapes your mind. Your mind shapes your behavior. And your behavior shapes your future.
How to Power Pose
Take up as much space as you comfortably can in the moments preceding a challenge. This will translate to a nonverbal signal that you are powerful, which means you will bring your boldest, most authentic self to the challenge.
♦ Prepare by power posing first thing in the morning. Embrace the challenge that the day presents.
♦ Take advantage of personal spaces. Pose big in those spaces and look as dominant as you can.
♦ Walk around in waiting rooms; don’t sit or hunch over your phone.
♦ Strike a pose mentally if it is your only option. It works for those people unable to do so physically.
♦ If you can, arrive before everyone else and take ownership of the space. Make it “yours” so whoever comes after you come into “your” space.
♦ Take up space: Be big and exhibit those dominant traits that translate to personal power.
A Note on Posture
There was a study in the book that seemed to be added as an afterthought (it consisted of only three pages), but I found it to be immensely interesting.
Hunching over your phone for hours at a time is not only damaging to our posture, but it is also translating to a loss of power.
It makes sense when you think about it: Powerful posing- a physical action, increases power. So, hours hunched over looking at a small phone screen will naturally rob that person of their power.
As the devices get smaller, not only does assertiveness (leading immediately or eventually to pain and headache)- in exactly the same proportions. It’s a perfect (and logical) relationship: smaller device, hunch more to use it, decrease assertiveness, increase neck loading, increase pain and headache.
Hunching over a screen decreasing assertiveness. Assertiveness is the surest of ways to measure power because of its central psycho behavioral component.
Overall, Cuddy’s book on Presence was eye-opening and probably even more fascinating than her TED talk. She reinforces her previous points but does so more thoroughly. She digs deeper and provides and provides compelling study after study.
Being present is a key component of power, which is, of course, a key component of success.
Pose to be powerful and assertive.
Get the book here.