Let’s face it: life is stressful.
Whether it’s a tight deadline at work, handling a tough conversation, or meeting your partner’s parents for the first time, you’re always facing challenges.
We all are. But you may have noticed that while some crumble, there are people who thrive under pressure.
They’re the rock that everyone turns to in a storm, the ones who keep their cool when everyone else is losing theirs.
How do they do it? The secret lies in their personality traits.
After talking to the most cool-headed people I know and reflecting on my own experiences, I found 8 traits among these pressure-thriving individuals. Here they are for you.
1) They embrace challenges
If you’ve read the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck, you’ll easily understand this first trait of people who thrive under pressure.
It’s the ability to embrace challenges, or have what Dweck calls a “growth mindset”.
In other words, you don’t see failure or difficulties as something horrible to be avoided at all costs, but an opportunity for growth.
This way of thinking can be difficult to embrace, but as the book explains we can all learn to look at life this way even if it isn’t natural to you.
I remember shortly after reading the book, a massive project landed on my desk, and I felt the world weighing me down.
But then I remembered what I had read and told myself, “Hey, this is an opportunity for me, not a burden — no matter how it goes.”
With that shift in perspective, and internal permission to potentially mess it up, I got working on the project with a cooler mind and delivered it successfully.
2) They are positive
People who keep their cool under pressure wield positivity like a weapon.
They understand that their reaction to a situation holds more power than the situation itself.
I mean, think about it. You’re going to face challenges and stressful situations no matter what you do.
Wouldn’t you rather find something positive in them and have at least a half-decent memory rather than looking back later and just recalling how you were stressed up the wazoo?
Sure, it won’t make your problems go away. But it will definitely make the experience much more pleasant, and you’ll be building a more fulfilling and higher quality life too.
You’ll be in a better mindset to catch things that could go wrong and prevent them from happening, and even when you cannot, you’ll manage to integrate the lesson learned and remember to do better next time.
3) They are resilient
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity, and it’s a common trait among those who thrive under pressure. They don’t let setbacks hold them back; instead, they learn from them and move forward.
For example, a friend of mine lost his job unexpectedly. Initially, he was devastated.
But after he got over the initial shock, he decided to use the situation as a stepping stone to start his own business, something he had been dreaming about for years.
There were extremely high stakes for him — his savings were running out, and he had limited time to get his business off the ground or else need to find another job.
And he was able to thrive in this high pressure situation because he never let any setbacks stop him.
Any time something went wrong, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, analyzed what he could do better, and kept on going.
4) They are proactive
Have you ever felt extremely anxious during a waiting period — whether it was the results of an exam or just sitting in your dentist’s waiting room?
It’s obviously uncomfortable to feel powerless and unable to do anything. And in these cases, there may be nothing you can do — but in others, people may cause this anxiety themselves.
For example, let’s say you’re about to start a new job that really matters to you, but that you’re not super skilled at yet.
You can sit at home worrying about what your colleagues will think of you, if you’ll do well, and all that stuff — making yourself more and more anxious, and probably setting yourself up to be quite tense when you do arrive at work.
Or, you can be proactive and help yourself thrive under the pressure. You can read up on the website online, or connect with people already at the company or in similar jobs to learn more about it.
You can attend networking events or even post a question on Quora to hear about people’s personal experiences.
Really, there are tons of things you can do — and sometimes just the knowledge that you’ve done SOMETHING is all you need to help you handle a tough situation smoothly.
5) They are disciplined
Discipline is another important key to keeping your composure under pressure.
Why? Because disciplined people have strong habits and routines that provide structure and stability, even in chaotic situations.
Let’s take my friend who I mentioned above, who started his own business. He quickly realized that without discipline, there was no way he would achieve his goals.
He no longer had a boss telling him what to do or checking up on him — he alone had to make sure he would sit down at his desk every day and get through a good chunk of work in order to keep himself moving forward.
Obviously, that’s a pretty specific situation. But discipline will help you in any high-pressure situation.
Because you need to be able to look past your anxiety and worries that could easily distract you and stick to the actions that will help you get through the challenge.
6) They are great problem-solvers
This one might seem a little obvious — people who do well under pressure have to be good problem solvers.
Of course! I mean, that’s partially what thriving under pressure is about. You can be the most positive and proactive person on Earth, but if you can’t actually solve problems whether there is high pressure or not, you won’t get very far.
Being a good problem-solver includes being a logical thinker and also being creative.
It also means being able to look at an issue from multiple angles, consider new perspectives, and make connections between different ideas.
7) They are adaptable
If there’s one thing we can agree on about high-pressure situations, it’s that things rarely go according to plan.
So a person who thrives in these situations must, obviously, be good at adapting to unexpected events.
Coming back again to my friend who started his new business — as you can imagine, things didn’t go smooth as butter from the very beginning.
He encountered many obstacles, and discovered problems where he didn’t even know they could exist.
He had to quickly adjust his strategies accordingly, and pick up new skills quickly as he discovered what he was missing.
Now, I’m not saying this was all easy for him — but it was the only option if he wanted to succeed. And now, it has also set him up to be able to handle any other challenge that comes his way in the future.
8) They are focused
Remember that big work project I mentioned at the beginning?
It felt extremely overwhelming, and there were probably 146 other things I would have rather spent my time on — even cleaning out the fridge started seeming appealing.
Indeed, when we have a tough situation ahead of us, distractions pop up everywhere.
The personality trait that will help you get through this is the ability to focus.
Part of this is simply switching your phone notifications off — and maybe putting your phone away completely.
But it’s also the ability to bat off distracting thoughts and keep your eyes on your goal.
Likewise, my journey to becoming a published author was riddled with distractions. But as I built my focus, I was able to navigate the chaotic journey and achieve my dream.
Are you ready to thrive under pressure?
Now you know the 8 key personality traits of people who thrive under pressure.
You may recognize several, or even most, of these in yourself. But even if you don’t, don’t feel down — because every one of these can be cultivated.
And also, there’s one thing you should keep in mind that will help you through any tough situation.
Pressure is not necessarily a negative thing.
It can serve as a catalyst for growth, pushing you to new heights. As you’re on this blog, it’s obvious you’re someone who loves to develop yourself.
So embrace high-pressure situations, and watch as you thrive like never before.