Have you ever studied body language? I must admit, I haven't been a student of this fascinating subject until the last few years. Well five years to be exact. How do I know when I started studying it? Because it was a matter of life and death to my career. That kind of gets you to sit up and take notice. Pun intended.
Let me explain.
I had just been fired from my job as President of a community bank. Like many heartaches in life, I was about to learn a few of the best lessons a setback can provide. The first of many being, the best path to success after a setback is to put one foot in front of another, one day at a time.
One of those daily actions was to start interviewing again. But to be honest, I didn't feel like it. I felt like a loser. My mind bombarded me with thoughts of "you're not good enough" on repeat. I wasn't sure I had it in me. But I had no choice. As a single mom with two kids to feed, I had to find a way to persevere.
So I scheduled interview after interview, whether I felt like it or not. Mercifully, I ran across a Ted talk by Amy Cuddy on body language. In it I learned how to use body language to communicate with myself and increase my energy level that I portrayed to the world.
Let's try a quick example so you can feel what I mean.
Let your shoulders slump forward and your head tilt down. Imagine talking to someone in this position with a quiet, down trodden voice, looking up from downcast eyes. How does your energy feel? Sluggish? Low?
Now pull your shoulders back, lift your chin, and imagine you're looking someone right in the eye with the corners of your mouth turned up in a slight smile. Now how's your energy? Higher right?
Body language communicates to the outside world, but even more importantly, it communicates to your brain too.
Have you ever thought about the international body language sign for victory? Think about a boxer who's just won a fight. Or about a runner who's just crossed the finish line in first place. What do they all do, around the world, no matter the language?
They throw their arms up in a high V, for victory.
I use this often when I'm running to tell my mind that my body is strong and can keep going even though my mind is complaining and trying to convince me to quit because it's hard.
When I learned we can communicate to ourselves through our body language, I felt like I had hacked my system.
Before interviews, I would go into the bathroom and throw my hands up in a HIGH V for victory. Or I would stand in a super woman pose, smiling and laughing at myself in the mirror.
By the time I got into the interview, I wasn't the poor, dejected fired girl my brain had tried to convince me I was. Instead, I was the skilled, experienced, and proud, yet humbled, business woman that any company would be lucky to have.
Even the amazingly talented Shonda Rhimes describes her strategy for using her superwoman pose to increase her feelings of greatness in her book, The Year of Yes.
I told this story last week during some live trainings I did on Facebook and wanted to share it again with you because sometimes I think we need to be reminded that we have greatness within us. We may be tattered and bruised on the outside from life. But inside, that victorious human is just waiting to get out and be seen.
Who do you have in your life that mentors you and wants to see you win? Who’s throwing up that victory sign with you as you stretch for new goals or recover from a setback?
If you are missing that group of people who cheer you on, especially when it's tough, I would like to introduce you to my Momentum Mastermind groups. These are groups of women who thrive on supporting one another and rising to the occasion when needed. We open these only two times per year. You can learn more about them here.
In the meantime, chin up buttercup. I'm serious. Let's try one more exercise, just in case. Chin up and throw your hands in the air in the high V. I think you'll like how it feels.