• Maintaining proper composure and perspective, even when the stakes are high

  • Offering a steady and consistent approach in the midst of stressful circumstances

  • Reducing the stress in others while staying collected, despite external agitation

Imagine that you are walking on a wooden beam. It is 20-feet long and 1-foot wide and it is suspended 1 foot off of the floor. It looks like this:


For most of us, walking across this beam would pose little or no challenge. If you asked me to do it, I am confident that I could. In fact, I would probably be interested in trying to up the challenge factor by setting a time requirement, doing it blindfolded, or walking across while hopping on one foot. Heck, maybe I would try to do all three at once! Either way, I think I could do it and I would not be too worried about walking the length of the beam. What if the circumstance changed and the same beam was now suspended 100 feet of the ground? Do you think I would be so cavalier about getting across the beam? Would you?


It is the same beam. The same challenge. This task would require the exact same basic physical skills as before (i.e. balance and mobility); however, we all know that the second beam challenge is very different than the first. Walking across a beam so high in the air carries with it a much higher risk. If I lose my balance, I will not be able to just touch my foot to the floor and regain my composure. Walking the high beam would take extra powers of concentration and proverbial “nerves of steel.”
The basic mechanics are the same in either scenario. Just walk 20-feet across a beam that is 1-foot wide. The outcome should be the same either way. The only thing that changes is perspective. Because of the risk involved, the assignment becomes much harder and the odds of success are diminished when the beam is 100-feet high.


This week’s Funds For Learning GuideMark is called “Calming Presence”. It is about maintaining proper composure and perspective, especially when the stakes are high. When there is a lot on the line (such as a big funding application for a school district), it is so important that we perform our tasks well. It is critical that we focus on properly executing our responsibilities to the best of our abilities; and, while we can never lose sight of the fact that we may be 100-feet in the air, we need to perform with the confidence that we would if we were 1-foot off the ground.

Key Words and Phrases
Steady and collected; Not agitated or disturbed; Steadiness of mind under stress; Composed; Peaceful; Cause to be calm; Collected; Abate stress.

Opposite Terms
Agitation; Commotion; Disturb; Stir up.


GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides

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