You know them: Those people who seem to glide through life effortlessly. They get through the workday without getting flustered, usually looking great while doing it. They don’t seem to struggle with juggling the demands of work and life. They just have their acts together. Do they know something we don’t?
“In some sense, yes,” says leadership coach Davia Temin, founder of Temin and Company, a New York City reputation management company. Temin says that, while no one has a perfect life, some people have figured out the key to looking like they do. And, often, they share some commonalities.
Successful people like CEOs, executives, and celebrities usually have a plan for what they want to achieve and are committed to it, says reputation consultant Scott Sobel, founder of Media & Communications Strategies, Inc. That big-picture vision keeps them from getting derailed by things that don’t really matter, he says.
“What I’ve noticed is that people who glide through life, even though it seems like an effortless journey, are very focused and very serious about what they do. They’ve got a plan, and they understand human nature to a great degree,” he says. Their actions are often very structured to get them towards their goals, he says.
At the same time, they have the ability to laugh at situations that don’t go their way and, especially, at themselves, he says. Nothing is going to make you lose your cool more quickly than taking everything too seriously, he says. Maintaining the ability to find humor in the challenges—and, sometimes, the absurdity—of success is essential to keeping your cool, he says.
Temin finds that unflappable types are typically better able to let negative situations and setbacks roll off their backs. They know that such challenges are going to happen, so they expect them and aren’t blindsided when such things happen. “When they don’t get hired for the consulting gig, they don’t rethink their whole career path,” she says.
Consultant and success coach Marilyn Suttle, president of Suttle Enterprises, LLC, agrees, and adds that successful people typically see their mistakes as “tuition towards [their] education and a form of accelerated learning,” she says. So, even when they screw up, they don’t let it get to them, because they know that they’re continuing to improve, she says.
Successful people are often ego-driven, and that can help them look confident and secure, Sobel says. People who have healthy egos—not overblown and pompous, but not weak and apologetic—see their self-worth and act in ways to maximize it.
Even when they screw up, they don’t let it get to them, because they know that they’re continuing to improve.
Sobel adds that such people also know the value of connections and are confident in building relationships that can help them. Sometimes, that’s driven by their egos—if they see an opportunity to connect in a way that can benefit them, they may do it—but it’s also borne out of the realization that networks are powerful and worth cultivating.
Basic self-care like eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep can contribute to that sense of having it together, Temin says. It’s also easier to keep your emotions in check when you’re not exhausted and frazzled.
Suttle says that “together” people know how to soothe themselves. When an Olympic-level ice skater falls, she has a recovery message ready, Suttle says.
“We’ve all seen that skater who is probably saying to herself, ‘Oh no, this is terrible. I’m ruining everything.’ That’s the one whose routine completely falls apart,” she says. Instead, people who have a “recovery statement” that defuses the anxiety, such as, “I can do this,” or, “I’m anxious because I’m doing what’s important to me,” can help, she says.
Unflappable types are strong in adapting their thinking, Suttle says. She suggests that changing thoughts is more effective than changing feelings. When you’re under pressure, get curious: Wonder how you’ll succeed or what you’ll learn instead of how you’re failing. That will help change your body language, too.