The really great leaders in all disciplines tend to have a great deal of poise. I was watching women's basketball nonstop when March Madness comes down to the wire. I am reminded once again how powerful grace under pressure can be.

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines poise as:

Easy self-possessed assurance of manner: gracious tact in coping or handling; b: a particular way of carrying oneself

I particularly like the "easy self-possessed assurance" as a particular way of carrying oneself. That is the essence of the poise I am talking about. That falls right in step with the comfortable in your own skin concepts I teach and coach. This poise is deeper and so much more beneficial to success than the drama played out when we can’t keep our egos in check. When you encounter or see someone with poise you know it even if you can’t quite name it.

You might wonder - how can I get some of that?

As I see it poise is made up of:
* How you feel and what you believe about yourself
* Your ability to create space in which to respond vs. react
* Being grounded enough to just be still and maintain composure at peak moments and high pressure situations
* How you show up and carry yourself throughout your life’s moments

Not surprisingly poise starts from the inside out. It is difficult to have ease and grace if you are experiencing nothing but a battle of wills internally. If you are mired in limiting beliefs, negative self-talk, and generally not treating yourself well, you are going to feel like crap whether you admit it or not. You are going to try so hard to keep the parts of yourself you don’t like at bay that you will undoubtedly engage in self-sabotaging behavior. If you don’t have all the poise you desire, shifting your relationship with yourself is the first place to start.

Responsibility is literally the ability to respond. That means responding (empowering) versus reacting (dis-empowering) to life’s events and the people around you. Have you ever had an emotion fueled knee-jerk reaction and then totally regretted it? (Haven’t we all?) That is the trap of reacting in a nutshell. Someone says something or something happens and you get a surge of initial emotion and then unconsciously react by doing or saying something in return. Responding is the conscious version of reacting. You create space between the event and your response (even if it is just seconds) so that you can be at choice and do or say what serves the higher good of all involved.

Unless you are able to be still and grounded on a regular basis you will find it very difficult to create that space between event and response. In addition, if you have no experience with tapping into the power of stillness in ordinary situations it will be near impossible for you to tap into it at critical moments. You can’t tap into what you don’t know. You can’t tap into a reserve that doesn’t exist. So, when it comes time for peak performance or for handling a high stress situation your mind will start running around like a chicken with its head cut off because you don’t have any other tools at hand to with which to deal with the situation.

How you show up and carry yourself is an extension of the previous three points. It is how you are being on the inside made real by how you show up on the outside. We’ve all seen people who carry themselves with such grace and confidence that it is like watching art in motion, right? That external appearance when married with a strong internal experience is what constitutes true poise. When you have that you are truly at choice and able to succeed on your own terms.

Author's Bio: 

Paula Gregorowicz, The Paula G Company, helps women cultivate the confidence they need to take their life and business to the next level and succeed on their own terms. Learn "5 Steps to Move from Fear to Freedom & Experience Greater Confidence" (free) at