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Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

Have you ever left a nerve-racking challenge and immediately wished for a do over? Maybe after a job interview, a performance, or a difficult conversation? The very moments that require us to be genuine and commanding can instead cause us to feel phony and powerless. Too incessantly we approach our lives’ biggest hurdles with dread, execute them with anxiety, and leave them with regret.

By accessing our personal power, we will achieve “presence,” the state in which we stop worrying about the impression we’re making on others and instead adjust the impression we’ve been making on ourselves. As Harvard professor Amy Cuddy’s revolutionary book reveals, we don’t wish to embark on a grand spiritual quest or complete an inner transformation to harness the power of presence. Instead, we wish to nudge ourselves, moment by moment, by tweaking our body language, behavior, and mind-set in our day-to-day lives.

Amy Cuddy has galvanized tens of millions of viewers around the world with her TED talk about “power poses.” Now she presents the enthralling science underlying these and many other fascinating body-mind effects, and teaches us how to use simple techniques to liberate ourselves from fear in high-pressure moments, perform at our best, and connect with and empower others to do the same.

Brilliantly researched, impassioned, and accessible, Presence is filled with stories of individuals who learned how to flourish all through the stressful moments that once terrified them. Every reader will discover ways to approach their biggest challenges with confidence instead of dread, and to leave them with satisfaction instead of regret.

An Amazon Best Book of December 2015: Madonna isn’t the only person famous for telling people to strike a (power) pose. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy advocates for the same in a book that expounds on the ideas set forth in her popular 2012 TED Talk, “Your Body Shapes Who You Are.” It may sound silly, but assuming the assured body language of Wonder Woman, or that “Man Spreader” on the bus, can literally change your body chemistry and make you feel more confident in anxiety-inducing situations. I should admit I used to be a bit dubious when I first heard about this, but Cuddy’s Presence offers up sound science to back up her claims, and, well I tried it. Even sans the Lasso of Truth, I used to be less nervous about a public speaking engagement after taking Cuddy’s advice, and was therefore more successful at that endeavor. Translate this to a first date, a job interview, even those prickly conversations you hesitate to have with loved ones…and you’re conjuring self-confidence at the times you want it most. This is something that hits home for Cuddy, who overcame a traumatic brain injury to develop into a respected professor and researcher at the Harvard Business School, a feat she once thought not possible. Learning about the tenuous time in her life when she was paralyzed with doubts about her intellectual capacity, about how successful she could be in life, lends Presence a certain emotional center you don’t find in many books of its type. –Erin Kodicek

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