If you have been to one of Inventium’s innovation workshops, you’ll know that one of the first things we do is help get people in the right mindset for creativity and idea generation.
One easy, yet perhaps surprising way, to set the scene for creativity is to position your body into a demonstration of power by using expansive and open body language. Harvard Psychology Professor Amy Cuddy and her colleagues asked students to pose in a ‘high-power’ (open and expansive) or ‘low-power’ (closed and constricted) pose for 60 seconds. After posing, all participants were paid a standard fee, but they were also asked if they would like to roll a die and either win double the fee or lose it all. Power posers were significantly more likely to roll the die (33% took the risk, compared to 8% who held powerless poses). High-power posers also showed a 19% increase in testosterone (associated with assertiveness) and a 25% decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone).
What this shows is that positioning your body into a pose associated with power will make you feel and behave more powerfully (and physiologically, your body will also begin to mimic a person drunk on power!).
Subsequent research (detailed in Cuddy’s book Presence) has found that powerless postures undermine people’s persistence and creativity when trying to solve complex problems, while power poses are associated with confidence and increases in abstract thinking ability.
To use ‘power posing’ to boost your creative ability:
- Take up as much space as possible and hold that position for one minute. Think ‘Wonder Woman’ – feet apart, hands on hips and chin tilted upward.
- For day-to-day creativity, try combining power posing with daily routines. Next time you have a 9am meeting that will require creative thinking, take on a powerful pose while grabbing your coffee in the kitchen beforehand.
- If public posing doesn’t appeal to you, use the privacy of the bathroom cubicle to adopt your preferred power pose before stepping into your next idea generation workshop.
I would love to hear how power posing has helped you get your creative juices flowing, or how else you are using power posing in your life! You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for more proven ways to improve your creativity, check out Amantha’s book The Creativity Formula.