How Power Posing Can Change Your Life
I was at a conference and a middle age man walked up to me and said, and he was crying, he said I want to thank you for giving me my father back. I asked him to tell me more about it. He was holding my arm and he said my father has Alzheimer’s and he’s had it for quite a while and after I saw your talk I thought, I have to get him to power pose because Alzheimer’s is so disempowering – you have no sense of pride left, you start to collapse. I thought if I could get him, this brave, proud man, to open up again it might help him. So every morning for five minutes I have him power pose and for those five minutes I have my father back. He’s proud, he’s strong and he’s clear, for those five minutes, I know I’m going to get that, for now, every day and I just can’t tell you what a gift that is. That one obviously really touched me.
Another one that really gets me – and it gets to how you nudge yourself slowly into this bigger, bolder, more generous person – was a woman who was being sexually harassed at work on a regular basis by her boss and said she just felt herself getting smaller and smaller and finally realized she needed to quit but she wasn’t going to quit without telling him why. She said she just felt that was what I needed to do for other people. It was the right thing to do and it was who I was, but I was terrified. She said she was very aware of her posture, and it wasn’t just these five minutes of power-posing, she had been working on it.
The morning that she went to quit, she was power-posing in the house she was living in. She said she did it for a long time to make it stick. She dressed in something that was comfortable and played her favourite song. She walked into town, she was living in South America, she said she felt herself getting bigger as she got to the restaurant where she had been working. She walked in, she saw her boss, and said “I had previously thought he was much bigger than he was. He seemed smaller to me.” She said, “I felt myself taking my power back from him.” She said “I wasn’t taking his, I was just taking mine back. I said to him, I’m leaving and I think you know why. I want you to know and I want you to be a bigger and better person, and I know you can be because you have daughters and I know you would never want anyone to talk to them the way that you talk to me.”
And he broke down, apologized, and said I know I know I don’t know why I’ve been doing this, I’m so sorry. What she said that really got me was that she said she felt very generous and compassionate. She said that she felt strong and self-assured, she knew what was right and she also felt this generosity and compassion toward him. So she said I don’t want to hurt you, or ruin your business - I just want you to be the person that you can be and I want you not to hurt anyone else. She said to me I wish I could have recorded it because it felt like a divine voice, not my voice, and I love that so much because I said that was exactly your voice. You know, when we talk about our best, authentic self, that’s it. That voice – that was more you than ever before.
So, real power and presence comes with openness and generosity, and I thought that was a great example of that.