When we think of using the body as a tool to support high performance, leadership and success, we often think about eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep. But there are other ways our body can help or hinder us. Here are a few things to know:
Your body remembers
Consider riding a bike. At one point this required concentrated effort. After a period of deliberate practice, it became easy. Because of automaticity, your body is able to remember how to do certain things without your brain having to think much about it. What this means is that, over time, anything you practice often enough can become ingrained and automatic. POWERFUL QUESTION: Are you practicing what you want to be practicing?
Your body adapts
Our bodies are made to adapt to our environment. Think of physical exercise such as running. At first our stride might be inefficient, our heart rate high our breath taxed. Eventually with practice our body learns to refine movements and our heart and breath relax. It’s easy when we think of exercise but the same process of adaptation applies to our social (relationships) and emotional environment as well. If we learned when young to keep ourselves small to avoid negative attention, that pattern might still be operating now. Our adaptations can either serve us or hinder us. POWERFUL QUESTION: What adaptations are running you now?
Your body holds clues about your past
Imagine seeing someone with toned legs and a lean physique. Just by looking at her body you might guess that she is a runner or at least an exerciser. Our social and emotional adaptations provide similar clues. So when we see someone who rounds her shoulders, crosses her arms and stays quiet in a meeting, we call her shy, but all she is doing is exhibiting an adaptation that has previously served her. At some point in the past it met her needs for safety or belonging to stay small and be quiet. Just as the toned legs provide a clue that someone runs, the rounded shoulders provide clues about how we’ve previously adapted to our social and emotional environment. POWERFUL QUESTION: What clues does your body have for you?
Your body leads
We usually think that our brain provides direction to our body, but Amy Cuddy’s research around power poses proves that our body, and the physical position it takes, has the power to lead our mind. In short, make yourself big and feel powerful. Keep yourself small and feel fear. How we hold our body can affect our mood, our hormones, our performance. POWERFUL QUESTION: What posture makes you feel powerful?
Your body holds the key to create change in the future
Practicing a power pose once gives you an immediate and one time boost in performance. But practice holding your body in an empowered state regularly, ideally daily, and you create new neural pathways, new habits and the foundation for lasting change. POWERFUL QUESTION: What physical practice can you do daily to bring about the change you want in your life?
So give that awesome bod of yours some gratitude, love and attention (as well as healthy food, exercise and plenty of zzz’s). Develop a practice around checking in with your body, asking it for guidance, listening to what it’s trying to tell you….
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