Small things can make a big impact. A small rudder guides a large ship. The slightest adjustment to the right or the left can alter the final destination of a ship hundreds of miles. But what are the small differences we can make to improve ourselves?
One way that I strive to continue learning and improving is by watching TED talks. TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading worthwhile ideas. I absolutely love these talks and hope to attend a TED Conference someday.
One talk in particular was the genesis for this Live it! Challenge. Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School, conducted a study and her findings can make a dramatic difference. The best part is applying these results doesn’t cost a cent and is available to everyone.
What is this wonderful, potentially life-altering thing?
The impact of body language.
Previous studies have already indicated that our mind impacts our body language. For example, the most common physical reaction after a significant accomplishment in athletics is to fully extend both hands in the air (a high-power pose), on the contrary when we feel sad or ashamed we hunch over to make ourselves small (a low-power pose). Amy Cuddy set out to determine if the reverse could be true — can body language impact our mind?
In Cuddy’s TED talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” she shares the results of a simple, yet informative study. She asked participants to spit into a vial and then pose in a high-power pose or a low-power pose for two minutes. Once two minutes had passed participants were asked a series of questions to determine how dominant they felt and were given the opportunity to gamble. Finally participants provided another saliva sample.
The results were intriguing. The high-power pose group exhibited a 25 percent decrease in stress levels and about 25 percent increase in risk tolerance. As a result, Cuddy concluded that our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behavior, and our behavior changes our outcomes.
These results can make a big difference in your life, especially in what Cuddy calls “evaluative, social-threat situations,” such as a meeting someone new or speaking in public. These situations often occur daily and we can all benefit from feeling more confident.
I’m sure you’ve already guessed this month’s Live it! Challenge: hold a high-power pose for two minutes each day, especially before an important situation. Before giving a presentation, going on a date, or even before you start your day, go somewhere you can be alone and raise your chin and hold that power pose. Below are some power pose stances.
- Standing with hands on hips (aka The Wonder Woman)
- Chin up, arms lifted high
- Sitting on a chair with legs and arms spread out
- Overall, maximize space
The first time I tried this was before an important event, and honestly I felt a little silly. But trust me it worked. I felt confident and relaxed — overall I felt primed to be my best self.
Be sure to give this month’s Live it! Challenge a try. It’s free and can only help you live your life to the fullest.
Don’t forget to let us know how striking high-power poses has impacted you.