Why Being Yourself Leads To Success: 5 Thoughts On Poise In Athletics


“My definition of poise is very simple: being yourself.  You’re not acting.  You’re not pretending or trying to be something you’re not.  You are being who you are and are totally comfortable with that.”
—John Wooden

Poise is near the top of Wooden’s Pyramid of Success…which means that the blocks under it have to be accomplished before poise can even be a thought in our minds.  I love Wooden’s definition of poise because it says a lot in a few words.  If you’ve got a team of individuals who are self-confident enough, self-aware enough, and comfortable enough in their own skin that they can truly be themselves with each other…that’s when the door to becoming the best opens up wide.

I’m going to break with form a bit and list a few quotations of what other folks had to say about poise.  Enjoy!

  • “The key to winning is poise under stress.”—Paul Brown
  • “To me, it was never about what I accomplished on the football field. It was about the way I played the game. I played the game with a lot of determination, a lot of poise, a lot of pride and I think what you saw out there…was an individual who really just loved the game.”—Jerry Rice
  • “For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.”—Sam Levenson
  • “To bear defeat with dignity, to accept criticism with poise, to receive honors with humility–these are marks of maturity and graciousness.”—William Arthur Ward
  • “The qualities of man comes thus, not only he is able to survive in any kind of situation but he also maintains his poise in trying times.”—Sam Veda

I believe this all applies to coaches as well.  I wrote before that once I became a more authentic coach, I became much more successful.  Know who we are as coaches, and being comfortable with it, will help us lead our teams with poise.

Join me in a series discussing John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.  I believe his Pyramid can be applied to our teams, our recruiting efforts, how we behave as professionals, and to our lives in general.  This series will cover Self-Control, Alertness, Initiative, Intentness, Condition, Skill, Team Spirit, Poise, and Confidence.