Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO / Strike a Power Pose

Marjorie Spitz Rento2 Comments

Inspired by an article a good friend sent me recently, I started doing my own version of the Wonder Woman stance.  

If you’re not familiar with the Wonder Woman stance, it’s a much talked about “power pose.”   Harvard Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy presented a compelling explanation in a powerful Ted Talk (pun intended) now viewed almost 30 million times and referred to in many studies and articles.  One recent article discussing how it could help get you ahead at work “touted (it) as a great shortcut for any woman feeling left out or hidden, particularly in the workplace.” 

How do you do it?  Well just put your hands on your hips, with feet wide apart, shoulders back, spine long, legs strong and stare confidently forward. 

It's all about taking up as much space as possible, looking big and visible, sort of like a wild animal when exerting power.  “Being the powerful person in a situation means extending yourself out as much as you can,” even if you are vertically challenged.   And that goes for men too – hey, Superman did it!  

In my version, I dab my favorite powerful essential oil, Valor, on my chest and state an affirmation out loud.  Thus engaging most of my senses. 

Other power poses include putting your feet on your desk; rolling your shoulders back and crossing your arms; planting your hands on the table and leaning forward; and eye squinching as recommending by Photographer Peter Hurley. 

“What’s good for the camera is good for the boardroom.”  Hurley says “confidence comes from the eyes…so does fear.”

According to Cuddy, who studied whether our body can change our mind, our posture can literally change our hormones, in particular testosterone (the dominance hormone) and cortisol (the stress hormone).   Those who practiced power poses for just two minutes tested high in testosterone and low in cortisol, which translated to high powered, assertive and dominant, but also laid back and relaxed (i.e. not stressed out).  Most people focus on the testosterone level, but what is really important here is the cortisol level, meaning how we respond to stress. 

And apparently utilizing these poses could raise testosterone levels by up to 20%, and reduce cortisol by up to 25%.

Again, by practicing power poses for just two minutes.  Talk about a small change making a big difference! 

As Cuddy says “You don’t have to fake it to make it.  Fake it to become it.”

It’s important we consider that posture impacts our self-esteem, confidence and hence the way we are perceived, 

With the circumstances discussed in last week’s blog about speaking to a public board for the first time, it worked for me!  Before I left the house, I struck my Wonder Woman pose and by the time I got up to the podium I felt calm, focused, and able to respond with confidence to any intimidation or questions directed my way. 

It got me thinking a lot about confidence and its role in outcomes.

It’s easy to recognize who has it, and who doesn’t.  How it looks, and how it feels.  When I feel it, and when I don’t.

Your body has a language and it communicates every day.  Slouching, sitting meekly, or with your head down says one thing, while sitting straight, looking someone in the eye with feet firmly on the floor says something completely different.   It truly is a language that we all make judgments based on whether it be hiring, dating, or negotiating.  Importantly, not only does it influence how others perceive you, but how you perceive yourself.

Celebrities do power poses on the red carpet to show off what they’re wearing, but perhaps also as a confidence booster to reinforce they are meant to be there, capable and worthy.  

In a very interesting study, recovering alcoholics were less likely to relapse if they had an expansive versus a slouched posture.   

Joe Navarro, a former F.B.I. agent with expertise in nonverbal communication and author of several books on the subject is a believer in the transformational power of posture. “When the military or police academies make recruits stand a certain way, it not only changes the perception of others but also their perceptions of themselves,” he said. “Broader postures really do pump you up and make you feel better.”

In addition, Business Insider did a charming article on which power poses work best for particular circumstances, including even a sleeping power pose. 

Notice when someone is exerting their power, we often don’t mirror of them, but make ourselves smaller.  Be aware of that so you can start to shift your response. 

It may be uncomfortable at first, similar to quieting down that saboteur in your head telling you you’re not ____ enough (MOJO Maker™ #11).  But with practice, it will feel more natural and likely serve you well.  As long as you don’t take it too far and go pounding your chest and roaring around the office. 

So find your pose.  Go into a private space prior to your next meeting and hold it for 2 minutes.  Then get out there and assert yourself.  Please share how it works for you. 

May the Wonder Woman in all of you bring you much success and joy. 


Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™

P.S. Looking for a gift to help fulfill you or your loved ones 2016 resolutions?  Contact me about the upcoming 2016 Virtual Well-Being Reset Program, starting January 6.