A few years ago, I attended the Inspiration Conference at Harrah’s Resort in Southern California. The day was packed with inspiring and motivational speakers in celebration of Women’s History Month.
One such speaker was Amy Cuddy, the social psychologist and sensational TED Talk speaker. You may remember her from “that YouTube video about posing like Wonder Woman.” Cuddy’s premise sounds simple: assuming a posture of confidence, even for a couple of minutes, can increase your testosterone and cortisone levels, and help you feel more powerful before an important meeting or presentation. Power posing inspires you to be more authentic, more passionate and more present.
Her book, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, is packed with research and anecdotes about how to help you to demonstrate your worth with ease and conviction. Here’s a snapshot:
Take a Stand Against Imposter Syndrome
You know the feeling. You take on a new challenge – prepare for a keynote, negotiate a major deal, interview for an advanced position. At first, you’re filled with enthusiasm about the possibilities. But soon, you find yourself bumping up against the limits of your ability. Then, a voice inside your head asks, “Who do you think you are?” Suddenly, your courage is overtaken by self-doubt and paralyzing fear that the world will find out that you’re a fraud.
Studies show that this modern neuroticism is common, especially among high-achieving women. The antidote to this paralyzing self-consciousness, Cuddy argues, is the quality of presence — the ability to project poised confidence, passion, and enthusiasm in high-pressure situations.
Cuddy suggests that the first step to overcoming Imposter Syndrome is to “fake it till you become it.” By assuming the power pose, you can improve your mood and turn self-doubt into self-confidence. The power pose also affects the way others perceive you. When people acknowledge the presence you exhibit, a positive feedback loop is created. You settle yourself, engage in the moment, and the physical manifestation overpowers the mental neurosis.
“The ideal effect of presence [is that] you execute with comfortable confidence and synchrony, and you leave with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, regardless of the measurable outcome,” Cuddy writes.
Presence isn’t just about how to become a relaxed public speaker, a more persuasive negotiator, or a more compelling interviewee — although it certainly can affect those outcomes. It’s about something much deeper than that. It gives us permission to become a witness to, but not a victim of, our vulnerability.
Presence and impostorism are opposite faces of the same coin—and we have the power to determine which face we present to the world.
Question: When was the last time you battled the fear of your limitations? Did you win?
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