Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tarzan’s Chest Thumping – Change your Body – Change your Results

When you think of yourself as a leader or a manager do you give much thought to your body and the impact it can have on your capacity to manage, lead and influence the world? For many of us we rush around and don’t pay too much attention to our body unless it “breakdowns’ such as when we get sick with a cold. Sometimes we are rushing so much that we can ‘forget to breath’ and it is only when we stop and say to ourselves to ‘take a breath’ that we might actually think about our body.

You may think about your body in terms of your physical appearance, you may think you are too fat or too short or too ‘something’. As a young girl I got teased and called ‘skinny legs’, you to may have been teased because of your physical appearance. For those of you with a physical disability you may give more thought to the restrictions that your body places on you or how people see you through your physical disability rather than as a legitimate human being.

When you think about being a change agent do you consider your body as part of your overall strategy? Many people don’t, however if you want to shift or change your Way of Being, the quickest way to do it is to shift your body. Let’s explore this through a few imaginary practices.

• Can you imagine being really angry when you are dancing to your favourite song?
• Can you imagine being serious when someone is tickling you?

In both these situations your body is moving and shifting, therefore your body inhibits your capacity to ‘be angry’ or ‘be serious’.  So if you are in a situation and you are saying to yourself ‘I am not going to get angry’ then put your body in a posture that does not enable you to ‘get angry’. This posture could be ‘sitting in a relaxed armchair sipping a latte’.

In the case where you want to speak up at a meeting and be observed as competent and taken seriously, the posture could be to ‘hold your head up, shoulders back, both feet firmly on the ground, arms side by side on the table’.

Jeremy Stunt an ontological practitioner has prepared a number of examples of why the body matters for change. He found an experiment that showed whether people are in high-or low-power roles, it is their posture – expansive (wide open and tall) or constricted – that affects the implicit activation of power and the taking of action How you hold yourself has influence on how other people observe you and make assessments about you. These can be positive or negative. 

So where does Tarzan fit in? Do you remember the old Tarzan movies – where Tarzan would beat his chest and make a calling sound before he swings through the jungle...strange, but this practice has relevance for you. Research shows that chest beating can reduce anxiety prior to public speaking. The research showed that if you beat (or tap firmly) on your chest, your body will generate additional testosterone and this will take several minutes to dissipate. If you are feeling anxious about giving a speech, training session or talk, beforehand lightly beat your chest (in private) to help calm your nerves and increase your self-confidence.

I invite you to start noticing your body and how it can help you to achieve the results you seek. For a conversation contact


  1. Thanks for the addition of (in private). Beating one's chest and doing a Tarzan call before a public presentation may not go across too well.

    1. Hi Rob

      I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my blogs! Hope all is well and you are enjoying your next adventure.