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A Pause for Poise

It was 6:00 and dinner had not yet been prepared, the kids were running around the house hungry and tired, a sound of running water alerted everyone that there was a flood in the bathroom, the timing of a salesman standing at the front door with a pitch that was going to “save somebody something” was impeccable, and now one of the children sustained an injury from running around in all the chaos.

In desperation and under much pressure, the mom yelled at the kids to stop what they were doing and to calm down and help her clean up the mess. There was not much, if any reaction from the kids which made her more frantic and angrier.

Eventually, the door-to-door salesman moved on to the next house, the bathroom stopped flooding and was cleaned up, kids were cared for, dinner was prepared, eaten, and cleaned up. It was an exhausting day. Honestly, it was becoming a pattern and hard days were turning into hard weeks and months. Something had to change.

Getting angry and yelling was exhausting for everyone and the hoped for response from the kids was not happening. As she sat and reflected on this, a thought came to her, and she wondered, ‘what would happen if I whispered instead of yelling?’ Perhaps her throat would not be sore, and her emotions would not boil over. But how would anyone hear her over all the chaos? Frankly, what she had been doing wasn’t working, so she decided to give it a try.

The next day when the busy afternoon came, and more hard situations occurred, she decided to try the approach of whispering. To her great surprise, it worked! Her children got quieter and came closer as she whispered, and she was able to communicate to them in a calm manner what she needed or wanted to tell them. They seemed to sense the importance of what she had to say and responded by doing what was asked.

She chose to look at her approach to the situation, took accountability for her actions, and made adjustments. Because she learned to have poise, her relationships with her kids improved, her abilities came with less effort which affected other parts of her life.

John R. Wooden, a legendary basketball coach for UCLA; Who was known for his success on and off the court (Winning 10 NCAA championships in 12 years) said the following about poise:

“I define poise as being true to oneself, not getting rattled, thrown off, or unbalanced regardless of the circumstances or situation. This may sound easy, but poise can be a most elusive quality in challenging times. Leaders lacking poise panic under pressure. Poise means holding fast to your beliefs and acting in accordance with them, regardless of how bad or good the situation may be. Poise means avoiding pose or pretense, comparing yourself to others, and acting like someone you’re not. Poise means having a brave heart in all circumstances.”

There is a great lack of poise in today’s world. Imagine what would happen if fans at sporting events did not yell at the umpire or referee when they felt that there was an error in the call that was made. Or when conflicts arise at home or in the workplace, imagine how poise allows individuals to handle disagreements and difficult conversations with grace and respect, leading to more productive resolutions. Even in our mental well-being, poise contributes to emotional resilience, reducing stress and anxiety levels. It helps individuals maintain a positive outlook on life and cope better with adversities.

It is essential to remember that nobody is perfect, and everyone can experience moments of vulnerability or stress. Developing poise takes time and practice, and it is a skill that can be cultivated through self-awareness, mindfulness, and learning to manage emotions effectively. It’s not about suppressing emotions but rather about expressing them in a composed and constructive manner.

What do you want to be remembered for? A sharp tongue or “having a brave heart in all circumstances”? You have the power and ability to do great things and leave a positive lasting effect on those you meet. Pause, breathe, and gain poise.


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