Michael Sterling

One Surefire Sign of a High-Performer


When you think about highly successful people, what comes to mind? Their intelligence, experience and leadership skills are likely on the list. There’s another surefire sign of a high-performer which research has shown is a key quality of achievers – the ability to control emotions.


Staying cool, calm and collected under intense pressure is a proven characteristic of strong, successful professionals. A research study, conducted by TALENTSMART, of more than one- million people showed that 90% of top performers are skilled at calibrating their emotions.


Identifying individuals who master managing pressure is a terrific indicator of a person’s success quotient. Assessing this trait aids in hiring and promoting the right people. It also is an ideal factor to consider when assigning teams. Ensuring critical team members excel in remaining calm can avert catastrophe.


So, how do successful people keep a level-head? If you aren’t naturally calm under fire, learning methods to remain unruffled will be a catalyst to your career.


8 Ways to Keep Your Composure


  1. Breathe. Stress causes our chest cavities to tighten and breathing becomes restricted. The lack of steady oxygen affects the brain and our heart rate. There’s a reason we’re told to take deep breaths. It works! When in a pressurized situation, taking ten deep breathes increases oxygen to the brain and calms our heart rate and our body. We’re then able to think more clearly and react responsibly and appropriately.
  2. Take a moment. Walk away and disconnect from the situation – even if it’s just briefly. If you’re face-to-face with a client or co-workers, excuse yourself if you are able. A walk to the restroom or down the hall will allow you to gather your thoughts. Thinking before you speak can prevent saying something harmful in the heat of the moment.
  3. Alter your reaction. Manage negative emotions. For instance, instead of yelling, change the mood with a little levity. Find the humor in a bad situation and use it to diffuse anger. Or rather than itemize all that could go wrong, highlight the aspects that can be used to your advantage.
  4. Be empathetic. When stress stems from an issue related to another person, consider what it’s like to be in their shoes. Rather then give in to the tension, re-frame the problem. Determining how you can help will resolve the matter faster.
  5. Avoid known stressors. Being mindful of your main stressors will allow you to sidestep those hot buttons. If you hate when a project is down-to-the-wire, set a clear and defined timetable to insure the project remains on track. If dealing with a particular client or co-worker ratchets up the pressure, have another team member act as point-person for interactions with that individual.
  6. Know your limits. Does lack of sleep put you in a downhill spiral? Does too much caffeine make you hyper-sensitive? Or maybe missing lunch causes low blood sugar levels to spin you out of control? Control what you can control. Not everything is within our control, but managing those elements which are will help keep us on steady ground.
  7. Accentuate the positive. Successful professionals focus on the positive. Look for the benefit of every situation. Reaffirm what is going well. Boost your confidence by relying on your strengths. Centering yourself when things get chaotic will position you as poised and unflappable.
  8. Surround yourself with support. When work becomes a pressure cooker, a support network is imperative. Cultivate a trusted team and share the workload. Micromanaging or attempting to go it alone, will most certainly lead to a melt-down.
Career Wellness

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