I did a Wonder Woman this morning. Stopped in the middle of an oval, 3km into a 9km training run, planted my feet wide, put my fists on my hips, shoulders back, chin up, eyes sky bound and summoned the superhero within. It took a few minutes, but sure enough, there she was, just waiting to be unleashed. I was cape-less and minus the unflattering lycra, but I ran that last 6km as though I had special powers (i.e. super sized lungs and unstoppable legs). I shaved 30secs off my pace in the process.
It’s been a long time since I imitated a super hero – and believed. More than 35 years in fact. But I was so desperate for a hit of confidence that this morning I was even prepared to risk exposing my secret superhero identity to the world (read “morning dog walkers and other runners”). Fortunately when I run I am entirely unrecognisable from my every day self anyway. My red face and sweaty hair are the perfect disguise…
It might all sound like sheer craziness, it probably even looked a bit like it, but studies have shown that power poses (not just of the Yoga variety) are extremely effective in resetting one’s self. The simple act of acting confident – superhero confident in my case – and particularly of adopting matching body language, has been found to actually alter hormone levels… for the better (because my hormone levels already alter on a monthly basis in a way that does nothing for my confidence).
Studies conducted by social psychologist Amy Cuddy, who you might remember from her TED Talk, identified a chemical change in the body when people held a power pose for two minutes or longer. Specifically, the studies revealed increased testosterone levels, the ‘dominance’ hormone, and decreased cortisol levels, the ‘stress’ hormone. Test subjects also claimed to feel more confident and powerful… which is exactly how you want to feel before a job interview, an exam, a date… a half marathon. Hell… I’d like to feel that every day.
Of course, the ‘change your body, change your mind’ concept isn’t new, but these days the message is out there for one and all to apply. It’s no longer reserved for elite athletes, rugby teams (think the Haka – which isn’t just about intimidating the opposition but about the collective power of the team), Sumo wrestlers… or people who attend Anthony Robbins seminars. You don’t need any special training – you just need to strike a pose… nothing to it…
So for the next 21 days (because that’s how long it takes to form a habit – in this case the habit of a superhero) you’ll find me striking Wonder Woman poses all around town.
Feel free to join me – there’s a super hero in you too.