October is about Presence
Amy Cuddy is one of my favorite writers and researchers. Never heard of her? She did a 2012 TedTalk that has become the second most popular TEDTalk, Your body language may shape who you are. As the leaves change color and we move into October, we shift our focus to Presence which also happens to be the title of Amy's book from 2015, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.
I highly recommend the book and the power poses, as you might expect, but what I love most is her in-depth dive into what presence actually is. She is a social psychologist, and she has tapped into exactly why paying attention to how we stand, sit, and move can change everything. She and her colleagues have the research to show that the people who get interviewed, succeed on MCAT tests, and get selected as recipients of investor dollars are the ones who possess presence.
So, what's her definition of presence?
“Presence is believing your story, executing with calm confidence with the satisfaction of doing your very best and feeling happy regardless of the outcome.”
There are a few keywords in that definition that resonate for me.
The first is believing my story. Hmmm…what is my story? And am I speaking my truth?
Am I telling others how I feel as a way to respect myself and our relationship, even when it feels scary?
Am I in alignment with the reality that I am human, and I feel anger, sadness, joy, wonder, and everything in between?
How often am I just saying what others may want to hear?
Hmmm… that’s a tricky one.
Executing with calm confidence? She talked about the difference between calm confidence and arrogance. It’s a fine line, and you know it when you see it. Believing your story promotes confidence…knowing your story and speaking your truth helps to believe it.
Satisfaction that you’ve done your best with the ability to feel happy regardless of the outcome. If you pass the test or not, get the job, or win the project, it doesn’t matter. Can you feel content that you did your best? It’s like the practice of non-attachment in yoga. You have an intention of being your best self, and then you let go. Yes, with every finger.
All of these are powerful ideas to contemplate. And I invite you to do that this week. How can the ways you hold your body help cultivate these qualities, this sense of presence?
There was one other thing, though, that Amy said that really was the zinger for me.
“Before we even show up at the doorstep of an opportunity, we are teaming with dread and anxiety, borrowing trouble from a future that hasn’t yet unfolded.
When we walk into a high-pressure situation in that frame of mind, we’re condemned to leave it feeling bad.”
Borrowing trouble from the future? Borrowing trouble…from the future. That feels more like bringing along an already overstuffed suitcase of dirty clothes, (troubles) I have diligently collected from the past to spread on to a new experience.
Who would do that? Awwww….yeah, maybe I’ve done that before. Darn it, Amy! Did you have to shine a light on that one???
How often have I predetermined a situation and gone in with a huge suitcase of borrowed trouble and thrown it on the stage right before I was planning to dance a beautiful dance? I had not even noticed that I’d carried the suitcase in until I tripped over it every time I tried to take a step.
This week I’m keeping that in mind. What am I arriving with? At every moment, can I choose to arrive free and clear, fully present, and open to share my own story with calm confidence as my very best self?
It sounds like a lot lighter journey. I’m going for it. What about you?