The key to winning is poise under stress. Paul Brown
To bear defeat with dignity, to accept criticism with poise, to receive honors with humility — these are marks of maturity and graciousness. William A Ward
Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. Thomas Jefferson
A good way to consider the quality of having poise is to think of a person who keeps their ‘cool’. On the extremes are the “hotheads”, those that easily lose their temper; and the “wimps”, those who have no backbones. A person with poise has control of both their emotional and physical responses to the things that happen to them.
They exemplify mental discipline and self-control. They do not allow their subconscious mind to respond or to act without thinking. How many times have we reacted to a situation where our response was overboard or we embarrassingly and inappropriately lost our temper? How many times have we failed to respond or take action when we should have? How many times have we been in situations where no response was the better choice?
Throughout our lives, we are in situations where we are exposed to certain stimuli, actions that normally cause automatic responses. Lower animals respond to stimuli largely as a result of instinct. Humans too, have basic and instinctive reactions that cause us to respond to stimuli with little or no thought process. The emotions of fear, rage and flight are some examples. Sometimes, automatic responses are good and get us out of dangerous circumstances. It helps us to live to fight another day.
Most of the time, automatic responses should be replaced with delayed and thought out responses. Poise is a quality of character that helps do this. Avoiding automatic response is a necessary first step. Thinking before acting is important. We should always look before we leap or when crossing the street. With poise, we delay our responses and reactions until we have allowed our brain to analyze the circumstances and provide us an appropriate action. This can be something we choose to do or it can be a deliberate choice to take no action.
The point to this is to have conscious control of our minds and prevent our subconscious from “going off, half cocked”. Poise starts with delaying our automatic responses. We take a deep breath, count to ten, or do whatever is necessary. We do what we have to in order to allow ourselves to respond or not to respond, properly. The more we practice poise, the better we will become. Our decisions will improve and we will find ourselves in fewer difficult and embarrassing situations as a result of our improper responses.
Challenge: Do you think before you respond or do you let people “yank your chain”? Are you controlled by automatic responses or are you in control of your responses? Develop the power and quality of poise by being in control. Stop and think before reacting. The next time you are in a difficult situation, turn on your ‘poise’ button. Delay the automatic responses, act with poise. Use your freedom to choose your response. It is liberating.
Wisdom: It is not the man who is beside himself, but he who is cool and collected,–who is master of his countenance, of his voice, of his actions, of his gestures, of every part of his play,–who can work upon others at his pleasure. Denis Diderot
The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. Isaiah 32:7
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:3
Spiritual poise comes when we have the faith and confidence that God is in control. We trust that he will help us make better decisions as we embrace life’s trials and tribulations. The Holy Spirit is our guide and will coach us and point us in the right direction. We can approach life with confidence knowing that we are on the right path. There is the element of knowing that we cannot fail because our well-being is securely in his hands.
Prayer: Give me the strength to be more in control of my daily actions.