“Our bodies change our minds, and our minds change our behaviour, and our behaviour changes our outcomes” – Amy Cuddy
If you haven’t already watched it, I urge you to watch Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy, author of the book Presence, TED talk on body language and how it changes our behaviour and, by extension, outcomes in life.
Personally, I don’t do the Wonder Woman in the office bathroom, or lean back in the chair with my legs spread out in meetings (although I am sure the other meeting participants – mostly elderly men – certainly wouldn’t mind if I did…). I do, however, enjoy an occasional “star fish” pose, where you stretch yourself as big as possible, especially in the morning – to my boyfriend’s big frustration, as my power pose nearly kicks him out of bed.
According to Amy Cuddy, a power pose such as the Wonder Woman directly affects testosterone, a dominance hormone, and cortisol, a stress hormone, making you more confident and resilient. Although I do not necessarily feel super risk tolerant following my morning pose, I must admit it feels really good to stretch myself biiig… And kicking my boyfriend out of the bed actually does make me feel stronger and more confident!
Anyways, I do believe we could all learn from Amy Cuddy and become more aware of our postures when attending meetings. Personally, I am very aware of and affected by how people – and myself – appear in meetings. Although I would not necessarily describe my posture as a power pose, I aim to appear engaged and confident – “leaning in” and sitting with my back straight. Whether it works or not, I am at least quite certain I appear professional – and with time I hopefully succeed in faking it ’til I become it!
I’ll tell you a secret; I have been brewing on this first blog post for more than two years. I have imagined it being clever beyond words and hugely inspiring, securing instant followers hungry for more. If it isn’t perfect, it’s not worth launching the blog, I always thought.
This led to an academic journey for knowledge worth sharing, involving numerous TED Talks, scholarly books, networking events, and a full-time trainee position on the side. And so, here I finally am, two years later and ready to launch the blog.
Unfortunately I must disappoint you. This will not be the grand, first blog post that I imagined. You see, my academic journey turned into a personal one instead, which helped me realize my obsession with – and consequent hindrance of – the concept of perfectionism. Because along the way, I discovered how “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving for excellence. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is a defensive move. It’s the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen” (Brene Brown: Daring Greatly, page 128).
This quote changed my life. And, by extension, it also changed my ambitions for this blog, as it will most definitely not be perfection (whatever that means). It might not even be good enough. But at least it is finally here, and all I am hoping for is for it to get better along the way.
I guess immediate disappointment is not the best way to start a blog or build an image. However, it does take some of the pressure off. And who knows, maybe the grand blog posts will appear further down the line… I hope you will come back and see for yourself!