Tag Archives: performance

Strike a Pose

Strike a pose – position yourself in a certain physical posture and change the way you are feeling – from the outside-in. How useful is that? Feeling nervous maybe, say, before an interview? Take two minutes in a private space, adopt a confident posture and emerge feeling, and looking, confident. Handy?

We all know that body posture reflects the way we are feeling. Take a look at these two characters.

Images courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Images courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At a glance, you can read how they are feeling, can’t you? How do you do that? You notice their body posture and, from that, interpret how they are feeling. Given that our feelings show up in our body posture, can our body posture influence how we are feeling?

Act as if

To get a real sense of how very effective and simple this is, why not give it a go? Adopt a posture, strike a pose and notice the way that your feelings mirror your pose. To illustrate, pick a way you would like to feel. Let’s use “feeling confident” as an example.

Observe

Relax. Consider, what does a “feeling confident” body posture mean to you?

Recall that feeling. Think of something, call up a memory of when you had that feeling of confidence.

Your own experience, a memory, is best. If, however, you are finding it difficult to call up a memory and that’s what stopping you from giving this a try, you can always use someone else’s confident posture as a reference model. Notice what you observe in their body posture that makes you think that they are feeling confident.

Notice your “feeling confident” physical posture – head, chin, eyes, arms, shoulders, upper body, legs, feet, lower body, facial expression etc. Notice such things as how you are holding your head – is your head lifted or bowed? Are your shoulders slumped or straight? What angle are your head, shoulders and upper body at? What shape is your mouth – smiling, straight? What expression is in and around your eyes? How are your feet placed? What is your breathing like – deep or shallow? Fast or slow? …

Notice as much of your “feeling confident” body posture as you can.

Relax. Shake it off.

Do

Strike a pose.

What did you notice about your confident pose? Change your body posture to reflect what you noticed. Start anywhere you like. Changes may include such things as, say, set your feet slightly apart, straighten your shoulders, lift your head a little, smile a bit … a bit more, breathe more deeply, eyes looking forward …

Any aspect of your body posture may trigger the whole feeling. Often, but not always, the way you are breathing, holding your head and your facial expression may act as a trigger for the rest of the posture. Sometimes it can be something to do with how you place your feet.

Done

I believe that you will know when your “feeling confident” pose is a good copy of the original. How? You will be, well, feeling confident (on the inside), matching your physical posture. It’s great to experience, isn’t it?

Supporting Research

This “fake it till you make it” or “acting as if” is an example of a positive feedback loop. The more you do it, the less faked it feels. Amy Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply by changing body posture.

“ … don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it. Do it enough until you actually become it and internalise.”

Amy Cuddy TED Talk: “Your body language shapes who you are” (June 2012)

In the world of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) you may encounter “Anchoring” and recognise how this uses this body posture: inner feelings connection to good effect.

Like many of you, I have been doing something like this, unknowingly, instinctively, for a long time. I now think that this is what I was doing when putting on a brave face at my first day at school (I was determined to NOT cry – I was a big girl now!). This is what I was doing when gathering myself before giving a presentation to a roomful of people (without it I would have been in a million pieces, desolated and inarticulate). The scenarios and feelings where I call upon this ‘strike a pose’ are endless.

I have little doubt that we all, knowingly or unknowingly, strike a pose, put on a front at some time for a whole host of reasons. This means that we already have all the skills and resource we need to do this. We know that we read body posture so, having noticed what aspects matter, we can write it in our own posture. Just two minutes of your time to observe, do and know that it is possible. Just two minutes for you to make it so, at will.

This is a capability that we all have and one that I feel so lucky to knowingly possess.

In the future, whenever you want to feel a particular way, strike a pose (adopt the physical posture) and … like magic … the matching feeling (on the inside) will blossom. Enjoy!

LEAP Today

“LEAP Today” is a great way of creating specific, realistic expectations for your day. It is easy to  do and, even on the busiest of days to be, it generally takes me less than 5 to 10 minutes to LEAP into the day.

LEAP is an acronym for List, Estimate, Allow for the unexpected and Pioritise for today.

LEAP Today

Leaping character Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

LEAP Today is for a To-Do List fresh each day, do NOT keep the same list running. and get real – get purposeful – get results – savour the pleasure of your flexible, responsive, focused efficiency today.

List the things for today

Demands on your time and energy come from lots of places, some of which are planned (like your projects, scheduled appointments), some of which you can predict (like regular duties) and some of which you may be called upon to do (out of the blue, maybe), etc. Pick out items/pieces of work for TODAY from your usual To-Do lists.

Estimate

Make an educated guess at quite how much effort and elapsed time each item – piece of work – will take.

Allow for the unexpected

In real life, we all know that the unexpected happens (best laid plans of mice ‘n men, and all that). The unexpected is predictable in the sense that you just know such stuff always comes up – unpredictable in the sense that we do not know, specifically, quite what it will be.

Prioritise

REMEMBER – this is about Today’s priorities rather than priorities in the overall scheme of life!

separatorList, Estimate and Prioritise are all pretty run of the mill, aren’t they? The Allow for the Unexpected is, for me, the magic touch. What do you think?

Through doing LEAP Today I am inspired to set realistic expectations. I am creating my day’s agenda today. I am blending items from the world of demands and allowing for the unexpected. Add those things together, and I ‘get purposeful’, using my energy and time effectively, focus with clarity on intentions for the day. At the end of the day, I scan the list and get a buzz from noting my achievements.

I had a job where there were a number of channels of planned demand on my time – meetings, regular duties (commitments as a manager, technical specialist and/or a project resource), project tasks etc. I also spent a lot of time dealing with interruptions of all kinds. The interruptions were often critical, important and/or urgent including unexpected problems to be solved, discussions to bring an unexpected (and unwelcome) situation under control etc. etc.

My (monster) To-Do list was fed by items from the planned stuff (meetings, duties, project tasks) and was … errmm … overflowing, sometimes overwhelming and NEVER in the right order. Things got crossed off, some dropped off (no longer required) and, always, always, items got added.

It was demoralising. I worked long hours (too long), did a lot of stuff and worked very hard (no, really) but never got to finish my To-Do list!

Then two things happened around the same time. First, I had a ‘Time Management’ course which gave me the idea to record how I ACTUALLY spent my time. My thinking was that reviewing my actuals would, hopefully, give me insight into what the ‘time thieves’ were. I’ll admit that I really didn’t want to do this ‘every 15 minute actual time spent record’ at all – but I promised myself I would do it for one week. Second, during that same week, I encountered the LEAP Today. My eyes, and heart, were drawn to the Allow for the Unexpected” and there was little tug from the Prioritise for today.

Observation of my ‘actual time spent’ crystallised what I had mumbled often … on average, 50 to 70% of my time was being spent on the unplanned ‘interruptions’. However, dealing with ‘interruptions’ was an essential part of my job (one of those unwritten/unplanned/taken for granted items). A five minute conversation could avert a disaster waiting to happen or save the waste of time and effort on dealing with avoidable consequences. You know, the priority zero (override all other priorities) kind of things. There was no way I could stop handling ALL interruptions!

Focusing on the interruptions, it became obvious that some were predictable – in terms of scale of demand if not in the specific items – quite what they were was a daily surprise, but that they would happen was predictable. Key step 1 – I added an item ‘predictable interrupts‘ to my list of things to do on a daily basis with an estimate of, say, 30% of my time. Key step 2 – I added an item ‘the unexpected‘ with an estimate (based on observation) of, say, 30% of my time. On an average day, I now had 40% of my time for ‘planned items and regular duties’. If the ‘predictable interrupts‘ and ‘the unexpected‘ actually take less than estimated there is a good chance that I can get ahead of the game. WooHoo!

Adopting “LEAP Today” to create my To-Do List for today made such a positive difference to my sense of achievement on a daily basis and, dare I say, put a bit of a bounce back in to my step! The monster To-Do list is tamed! The “LEAP(ed)” To-Do List for today blossomed with big ticks (never underestimate the power of the tick), my daily sense of achievement soared actually generating energy and so much more. So simple. So effective. So it flows – like magic.