Presence by Amy Cuddy
Bringing your BOLDEST SELF to your BIGGEST CHALLENGES
I was introduced to Amy Cuddy through her Ted talk. And when that talk came around again and I was struck with how relevant it was to me at this time.
In her talk Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are,
I was struck by her personal story. In my work with the body through the practice that I live and teach called Nia, and the children who I work with who at times feel powerless due to their learning challenges, I was curious to learn more. In this review of her book, I give a few snippets of things that I found interesting. I highly recommend reading her book or listening to her book in audio form. She reads her book herself. Presence can be found in local bookstores, public library or online.
In chapter 2 called "Believing & Owning your Story," she talks about authentic self and what does that mean anyway? Cuddy's view is that our authentic self is an experience. She talks of times when we make a decision or do an act and "it feels right." As we build on these moments, we grow our authentic selves.
Her book is filled with stories of people's lives such as Reverend Jeffery Brown and street gangs and how he went out on the street and talked with the people. It took time; it took listening to change a culture of violence. He has a Ted talk about his work on the street: How We Cut Youth Violence in Boston by 79 Percent . Cuddy talks about the New Zealand rugby team, the All Blacks and a very powerful provocative dance before a meet. This dance is called the haka, a traditional Maori dance.
Amy Cuddy talks about power: social and personal power. She defines social power as power over another. Examples are one person who can make decisions over another such as a boss, a teacher, the CEO of a company. Personal power is "characterized by freedom from the dominance of others," according to Amy Cuddy. Personal power allows one to sense their own power within no matter the situation. We can create greater personal power through the thoughts that we choose and the words that we use. She talks of using power poses such as the Wonder Woman pose. Stand with legs hip distance or wider apart, hands on hips, shoulders back, chin slightly lifted gives a person a feeling of confidence and power.
“He walked along the River Lee, his hands clasped behind his back. A new walk for him. Large and public. The attitude of a thinking man. He enjoyed the pose, found it conducive to the idea of himself.”
--Colum McCann, TransAtlantic, describing Frederick Douglass
She has many more stories within her book, Presence. One last thing that resonated with me was her idea of suggesting tiny changes in the form of nudges to change behavior in the direction that we want to go. Dancing through Life.