Claim Your Space

powerposeswomenHarvard professor and researcher Amy Cuddy recently delivered an inspirational keynote address. This was of particular note as she wasn’t supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. Early in her college career, Cuddy suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to fully regain her mental capacity and finish her undergraduate degree, yet she persevered despite the original prognosis.

Cuddy’s research at Harvard Business School confirms that our body language communicates information to others that shapes their perceptions of us. It also communicates information to us that shapes our own self-concept. We can construct how powerful we feel by assuming expansive body poses.

In “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance”, Cuddy shows that simply holding one’s body in expansive, high-power poses for as little as two-minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone, the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds, and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss. These power poses led to an increased sense of power and risk tolerance.

In other words, Cuddy states that we can fake confidence and power by using expansive body language to change our body chemistry and our feelings. This is especially useful in preparing to speak to a group or in any situation where a self-assured image is important. Whether you face a challenging subordinate, a complex negotiation or a difficult relative, this is a quick way to gather your composure and tap into your power. Begin incorporating the pose into your daily practices, thereby reducing stress and adding greater self-assurance. Claim your space!

©MWeisner2017

Power Pose or Poser?

PerceptionHarvard professor and researcher Amy Cuddy recently delivered an inspirational keynote address. This was of particular note as she wasn’t supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. Early in her college career, Cuddy suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to fully regain her mental capacity and finish her undergraduate degree, yet she persevered despite the original prognosis.

Cuddy’s research at Harvard Business School confirms that our body language communicates information to others that shapes their perceptions of us. It also communicates information to us that shapes our own self-concept. We can construct how powerful we feel by assuming expansive body poses.

In “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance”, Cuddy shows that simply holding one’s body in expansive, high-power poses for as little as two-minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone, the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds, and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss. These power poses led to an increased sense of power and risk tolerance.

In other words, Cuddy states that we can fake confidence and power by using expansive body language to change our body chemistry and our feelings. This is especially useful in preparing to speak to a group or in any situation where a self-assured image is important. Whether you face a challenging subordinate, a complex negotiation or a difficult relative, this is a quick way to gather your composure and tap into your power. Begin incorporating the pose into your daily practices, thereby reducing stress, adding greater self-assurance, and dashing the notion that the pose is for posers only.

©MWeisner2015

Own Your Look

dresses-300x218Style is one factor in creating your own personal brand. What is the message you are trying to convey? When people see you, they immediately respond to the visual image you present. Is it memorable appropriate, and professional, given the setting? In the world of work, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Your style needs to empower you and a strong sense of personal style is a confidence builder in many arenas. In various studies, 55% of your credibility as a speaker, for example, is based on how you look, 38% on how you sound and 7% on what you say. It’s human nature to judge each other first on appearance because that’s really the most information we have to begin with. So, if you are prepared to freshen up your look or tweak your style, the following tips from Aliza Licht, author of Leave Your Mark are invaluable.

1. Know your body: Don’t convince yourself that all styles look good on you. Experiment AND be prepared to walk away from a season of fashion that may work best for others.

2. Get style inspired: Gather images of women whose style you most admire. Are there common denominators? It may be accessories or color- identify what it is that caught your eye.

3. Record best outfits: A good style moment can be easily forgotten. If a great outfit makes you feel special, take a selfie to jog your memory and capture the moment.

4. Store your go-to clothes together: When you are pressed for time, you want easy access to those pieces that always look good and lock in your confidence. The last thing you need is a frenzied hunt for the blouse that never wrinkles or the shoes that are the right height for your pants.

5. Hang by look: Keeping an organized closet not only eliminates stress, but enables you to see how many pairs of black pants you really own or if your look is too monochromatic, too colorful, or confusing. When placed together in your closet, the immediate feedback you receive may be a cause to celebrate or to cringe

6. Keep your job in mind: No matter how much fun you want to have with your style, remember when and where you will be. Bear in mind the job/career you have as you tweak or re-brand your style.

7. Identify a signature Item: Repetition is reputation. For the Ms. Licht, it is red lipstick and red nails. You may have an extensive shoe or handbag collection if your budget permits. However, unless you are in the creative fields where edgy pieces are expected, rein it in on being too trendy as there is a fine line between interesting and eccentric.

Your style can help or hinder you. Experiment and be realistic. If your soul cries out for up-to-the-minute fashion but your workplace screams neutrals, you have various options. Before you quit, indulge your other self in your free time or limit your fun fashion to one piece of your attire at a time. It might just be the conversation starter you need.

©MWeisner2015

The “Fitness Cliff”

Two Women Exercising With WeightsWhen I first read the term, fitness cliff I assumed that the reference was to another cutting edge training program. After all, it is spring and time to think about getting in shape, preparing to shed layers of clothing and improved conditioning for outdoor activities. Naïve on my part. Gold’s Gym graphed member check-ins from January 2010-January 2013. On February 18th, 48 days after most of us vow to eat less and exercise more, attendance nose-dives and continues on a downward spiral with a few positive spikes near bathing suit season. Surprised?

So, what happened and why does it continue to be an ongoing pattern? Similar to the New Year’s resolutions that many of us have been wont to make with certainty, over 50% never get beyond January 31st in changing some behavior. Fewer than 20% of us follow through on a resolution to its conclusion and actually make the proposed change.

Reassess your goal:
A closer look might help. According to fitness trainers, if you fixate on changing a specific body part and you don’t immediately see results like flat abs or thin thighs, your commitment is likely to wane. Instead, look at the bigger picture.

What’s important about being healthy?
• Greater endurance/more energy
• Improved mood
• Increased strength
• Sleep better
• Participate in more activities
• Develop greater discipline
• Gain confidence
• Clothing fit better
• Diet changes
• Exposure to more people/exercise buddy

Action:
Focus on why exercise is a positive activity that has both long and short term benefits. It’s energizing and de-stressing and can also add a social component. When the “pay-off” is not necessarily immediate, your goals need to be approached in small steps with built-in rewards, like a massage or another spa treatment.

©Mweisner 2014

OUCH! Stop Punishing Yourself

Mistakes-Precious Life LessonsMistakes, mistakes, mistakes…if we are human, we have all made them. We may have compassion for other people, yet too frequently we refuse to stop punishing ourselves for past missteps, indiscretions, poor planning, lack of judgment, etc. The list could go on forever. Too often we examine our own actions under a relentlessly unforgiving spotlight, long after the event has occurred. Yes, we have all experienced hurtful behavior and may have been the responsible person, yet for the most part it is possible to make amends or corrections.

From this moment going forward, put a statute of limitations on your mistakes. Stop punishing yourself. Give yourself a deadline. According to Dr. Alan Zimmerman, you might even create a short script for yourself like, “After this date (specify), I will not put myself down or beat myself up for this mistake or that failure (specify). It’s done. It’s over. I refuse to spend any more energy ruminating about it.” Moreover, hold yourself accountable for doing it. The blame game is so de-energizing and once you release yourself from the fatiguing dance, your confidence will improve, oftentimes dramatically.

With respect to the question of forgiveness, a bolder step is posited by Stanford University consultant, Dr. Fred Luskin , author of the book, “Forgive for Good”. He says, “You can let go of a grudge you’ve held against someone even if you never see or speak to that person again. Forgiving takes place inside the person who has the change of heart, not the person who is forgiven.” He never suggests that the behavior was okay or that the offender gets a pass on their actions. Rather, it is about taking care of oneself and not being the person who takes poison and waits for the other person to die. In fact, in the act of forgiveness you are the person who has taken back their power.

The same truth applies to self-forgiveness. When you forgive yourself for past mistakes, you also free yourself from the attachment to them. It takes a conscious effort to change old patterns of behavior. However, when you can take even a small step towards shifting your thoughts from blame and hurt to self-healing and peace, you are achieving a new level of self-care. Greater self-knowledge begets greater self-confidence and an opportunity to give “self-punishment” a rest.

ACTION:
• Who do you need to forgive?
• Write the script?
• Speak it aloud as many times as you find necessary
• Give yourself a BIG hug!

©2014 Maureen Weisner

Manage Your Weakness…Discover Your Strength

bs07I can say with confidence that I am not a baseball fan. My husband and son are quite knowledgeable, even if they root for opposing teams. In New England it is sacrilege to be a Yankee fan, but growing up in New York gives this branch of the family a pass on divided loyalties.

So, if I don’t care about baseball currently, there must be some childhood memory of growing up around it and the importance of it in our culture. At that time Sandy Koufax was a legendary World Series MVP, an All Star and Cy Young Award winning…pitcher and NOT a hitter. With this talent, no one expected him to hit home runs, just make some contact and not get hurt in the process. In fact, a tongue-in-cheek assessment of his skills came from rival Whitey Ford who said, “I know Koufax’s weakness, he can’t hit!” As an all-time great, no one would ever think of him as a weak batter. His strengths as a pitcher, made his weaknesses as a hitter insignificant. Legendary business analyst Peter Drucker said it best:loyalties. What I do know about baseball is quite limited, except for the Joe Pepitone home run ball caught by my husband on one of the most exciting days of his youth at Yankee Stadium. It has a special place and a special case, prominently displayed in our den.

“The effective executive…knows that one cannot build on weakness…To make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant.”

Weakness is not a “dirty” word and we all have weaknesses. Even if you are good at something you hate to do, it can still sap your energy. Don’t dwell on what you’re not good at or obsess over how to “fix” it. You’ll probably never get to a high level of performance around these areas regardless. Workplace research data taken over decades bears this out. People who play to their strengths daily are much more engaged, less likely to quit and much more likely to contribute to high performing teams. Should you ignore your weaknesses and only focus on your strengths? Think of the tri-athlete whose strength is not swimming but who bikes like the wind. She will focus on learning the most efficient way to manage the swim component because it is an integral part of her overall time. Since biking is her strength and she probably enjoys it the most, she can also train harder on improving her technique or even purchasing new equipment for the event. Who knows that with positive attention to managing/improving her perceived weakness, it could become a strength!

• List 10 things you are good at
• List 1 area you would like to improve

©2013 Maureen Weisner, All Rights Reserved