Skip to main content

Fake it till you become it!

Check out that picture above. It's Usain Bolt winning yet another race. Look at what he does. He opens up his body and takes on a "power pose." This is not unique to Usain. Even blind people who have never actually seen another person do this when they win. They open up their body.

Contrast that with what we do when we're inferior:

Aw! We close up in defeat.

This is non-verbal communication. In our society, women close up more than men, and men open up more than women. In academia, minorities close up while the confident strike power poses. We can see it in others, but we see it and reflect it in ourselves.

Does this mean we should strike power poses in job interviews? No. But our brain can follow our body's lead. Believe it or not, taking on a power pose for two minutes before being evaluated can lead to significant physiological and psychological changes.

This is all inspired by Smadar Noaz who sent me the video below, with the subject line "Fake it till you become it." This is in contrast to "fake it till you make it."

Feeling small? Feeling a lack of confidence? Here's a 21-minute TED video by Amy Cuddy, a Harvard prof, that very well could change your life! (skip to 16:00 if you're short on time and you'd like to hear her amazing impostor-syndrome story and how she overcame it by faking it until she became it.):


Popular posts from this blog

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:

It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

Culture: Made Fresh Daily

There are two inspirations for this essay worth noting. The first is an impromptu talk I gave to the board of trustees at Thatcher School while I was visiting in October as an Anacapa Fellow. Spending time on this remarkable campus interacting with the students, faculty and staff helped solidify my notions about how culture can be intentionally created. The second source is Beam Times and Lifetimes by Sharon Tarweek, an in-depth exploration of the culture of particle physics told by an anthropologist embedded at SLAC for two decades. It's a fascinating look at the strange practices and norms that scientists take for granted.
One of the stories that scientists tell themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, is that science exists outside of and independent of society. A corollary of this notion is that if a scientific subfield has a culture, e.g. the culture of astronomy vs. the culture of chemistry, that culture is essential rather than constructed. That is to say, scientific c…

The Long Con

Hiding in Plain Sight

ESPN has a series of sports documentaries called 30 For 30. One of my favorites is called Broke which is about how professional athletes often make tens of millions of dollars in their careers yet retire with nothing. One of the major "leaks" turns out to be con artists, who lure athletes into elaborate real estate schemes or business ventures. This naturally raises the question: In a tightly-knit social structure that is a sports team, how can con artists operate so effectively and extensively? The answer is quite simple: very few people taken in by con artists ever tell anyone what happened. Thus, con artists can operate out in the open with little fear of consequences because they are shielded by the collective silence of their victims.
I can empathize with this. I've lost money in two different con schemes. One was when I was in college, and I received a phone call that I had won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas. All I needed to do was p…