On Thursday, I interviewed my friend Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy on stage at Sixth and I in Washington DC. Her new book Presence is just out. It’s filled with incredible stories and research about why many of us sometimes feel powerless.
You may be familiar with Amy’s TED Talk—the second-most-viewed talk of all time. Everywhere Amy goes, people ask to take “power pose” selfies.
We decided to do one with the crowd at Sixth and I.
So the idea is pretty simple: By standing in a powerful position for a few minutes before a stressful situation (hands stretched to the sky or on hips like Wonder Woman) you can actually feel a bit more confident.
Amy’s research is part of a long trend of work that has looked into how our bodies shape our minds.
She was on an episode of TED Radio Hour a few years ago talking about this. (Worth hearing if you get a chance.)
What I love about Amy’s book and her message is that so many of us feel like we don’t belong. We look around at the people who surround us—at work, at school, at a party—and we think “what am I doing here? I’m not (smart/good/interesting enough) to be here. They probably (hired/admitted/invited me) by mistake.”
This is known as the Imposter Syndrome and it’s been written about in detail by two researchers, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. Amy cites their work in her book. She also features an interview with Neil Gaiman, the amazing and brilliant author who HIMSELF admits to feeling like a fraud. (can you believe it? even the incredibly gifted Neil Gaiman feels this way!) This is one of the most inspiring chapters in the book.
Amy writes: “When we feel like imposters, we don’t attribute our accomplishments to something internal and constant, such as talent or ability; instead we credit something beyond our control, such as luck.”