How Poised Are you? (Part II)

In a previous blog post I talked about a good example of poise from the Michael Corleone Character in The Godfather movies.

But what can you do to improve your poise?

First, you need to do a quick test to determine how poised you are, then the article offers you simple hacks that will for sure improve your poise.

Poise is a key ingredient of leadership.  No one wants a frazzled leader who lets emotions like fear and anger blind her or his better judgment.

So How poised are you? Take this Simple Test to find out:

  • Can you Stay calm in difficult situations?
  • How would you score your ability to stay composed mentally and physically (give yourself a score out of ten)?
  • Ask four more people who know you well (and will not flatter you) to give you their opinion about their score of your level of poise.
  • Take the average of the five scores and Presto: That is your Poise Score!

More important than the score is to see if there is room for improvement on it.  So, unless you scored 10/10, this article is for you.  If you scored 10/10 does not mean you do not need help

Poise might be the most important way to have virtual power.  Some people demand presence because of how much they own or the position they hold.  But some have an awe factor and a presence regardless of their position of wealth.  These are people who are probably poised.

Studies show Poise is an important ingredient of leadership especially for high level executives.

So how can one improve poise?  We need to go back to the source of poise, then look at ways to convey that you have it.

Many references say that poise comes from self confidence.  I believe self confidence is an important element of poise, but not the source of poise.

The source of poise is acceptance and having no fear.  Look at people who accept themselves: They are poised for sure. Acceptance is also related strongly to having no fear.  Or at least minimal fear.

Fear is what gets us emotional, and emotions are the main disruptions to poise.

So are we saying you should not have emotions? absolutely not.  but we are saying you definitely must learn to accept yourself.  Acceptance of self means being at peace of who you are.  Being aware of your self and accepting it as is.  This does not mean complacency, but more of acceptance and understanding of where you stand right now.

This is not easy.  It requires working on self understanding.  So how do build self acceptance?  This is a long subject, but i will give three specific and quick ways to improve self acceptance which leads to better poise:

  1. Clear your mind.   Every day, dedicate a few minutes to breathing calmly and observing your breath.  If you have to, count the breathing time inhaling and exhaling.  This will keep your mind off other thoughts.  Even if you wander into thoughts, go back to your breathing.  This will make you a more poised person.
  2. Believe in a higher presence.  God is the best higher presence to help you reach acceptance.  But you can use higher principles, mission, values, etc.  if you prefer.  This will lead to better poise for sure.
  3. Observe your emotions.  As emotions arise in you, whether happy or sad or fearful, watch the emotions as they occur in you.  Watch how they come about.   And notice how they feel in your body.  This for sure will make you more poised.

Now, remember you need to look poised for your team and people around you.  Given that if you do the above 3 you will have a higher level of poise, but you need sometimes to show poise at the surface, even if you do not feel poised inside.  Here are three simple hacks to do that quickly and easily:

  1. Take a deep breath.  The mind calms down when you breath.  You will look calmer.  Your heart will beat slower, and your body will understand from you that you are relaxed, and it will convey that to others.
  2. Wait for the second impulse not the first one.  Restrain from following the first impulse that you have to answer or say something.  Instead wait for the second impulse.  For example, the first impulse when you greet someone might be to say “Hi how are you doing?”  Instead wait for the second impulse which probably be more genuine and specific, like “I am happy to see you” or “How has your day been going?” etc.
  3. Pause and embrace the silence in conversations.  Do not rush to fill silence with words.
  4. Stay positive.

What do you do to maintain your poise in difficult situations?

**This is a two minute video on YouTube summarizing the post.

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