Stories & Resources

SMBC superman2

How to Become More Powerful

If you often wimp out in high stake situations, you may have tried to address this by making a New Year’s pledge “to be assertive,” but as discussed in Small Move, Big Change, vows “to be different” rather than “to do differently” usually end in failure.  To gain greater presence and to feel more confident, you need a specific behavior to practice that will allow you to experience greater personal power.

I recently viewed a fascinating TED talk by Amy Cuddy  on body language that would support a superb microresolution for any person who wants to amplify her presence and feel more powerful. Cuddy’s research shows that throughout the animal kingdom, winners expand themselves—think of the race winner raising her arms as she breaks the tape in a race.  Cuddy’s research also shows that deliberately expanding yourself physically (whether or not you feel like a winner), lowers your stress level and raises hormones associated with power and achievement.  Assuming “the superman pose” for only two minutes will expand your presence and feeling of empowerment in any situation.

If you struggle with presence in important meetings, feel fearful or subordinate in approaching difficult conversations, or play the role of  doormat in personal relationships, you could craft a microresolution based on Cuddy’s research.  If you follow through with your microresolution faithfully (practice makes permanent), you will likely adopt a fuller stature as a matter of habit.

So, how to start?  Well, as with all microresolutions, the key is to make it easy and highly specific.  If one needs to “assume the position” for two minutes to get the effect,  how can you build that “expansion” into your day so that you get the lift when it matters most?  Before a regular meeting with high-powered counterparts, can you make sure you have two minutes to practice the pose?  Or how about before walking into work, or at lunch, or before reaching home?  The exact timing you choose will depend on where you need the boost most – whether at work, before a date, when dealing with a family member, or before an important conversation, but start with one instance that you can nail every time, rather than vaguely promising yourself that you’ll do it when it seems necessary.

If greater assertiveness is one of your personal goals, try building this technique into your life with a microresolution that makes the effects permanent. has resources to help.  (And write to me and let me know how it goes!)