There's normal cool and collected where you approach life with confidence and kindness, and then there's expert-level calm. That's the kind where you manage to keep your positivity and self-assurance despite your train being late, your co-workers insane, or your competition vicious.
In short, there are a few, rare people out there who seem to be able to keep their composure no matter what life throws at them. Wouldn't you like to be one of them?
According to a cheekily titled Medium post by Silicon Valley veteran Ellen Petry Leanse, it's possible. Petry Leanse calls this much sought-after quality "being un****withable," defining the quality like this: "when you are truly at peace and in touch with yourself and nothing anyone says or does bothers you and no negativity or drama can touch you." It sounds so serene.
Those who are truly hard to mess with aren't just more likely to succeed, Petry Leanse points out, they're also generally really nice. "The most un****withable thing of all is being confident enough in your own values that you support others in being confident in theirs," she insists.
So how do you reach this vaunted state of internal balance? Petry Leanse admits her own journey to being un****withable is ongoing. "I'm not going to tell you I know a failsafe way to always feel strong, on path, and unmesswithable. I don't," she confesses, but she claims that over the years, she's found a few ways to "to strengthen my core, so to speak." Here are a few of the ten steps she discusses to get you started.
1. Be more curious.
"Drop the 'answer now and answer fast' reflex we've been conditioned to believe shows we're 'smart.' Aren't we able to make better decisions when we get more information?" asks Petry Leanse. She's not the only thinker warning that sometimes our desire to feel smart gets in the way of deeper wisdom.
What should replace our knee jerk need to offer the "right" answer immediately? More curiosity. "When someone asks you a question, absolutely answer if you understand the question and the context it's asked in. Or if you have everything you need to give your best answer. If not, consider building your understanding so you can give a better answer. Be curious."
2. Forget about being right.
This one is probably a corollary to point number one above -- after all, what shuts down curiosity quicker than a belief you already know all the answers? -- but it's worth stressing that certainty doesn't generally make you more stable. It makes you more brittle.
"If you think you're right people can **** with you," contends Petry Leanse. "Right leads to fight. Fight means you're getting ****ed with. When we're addicted to being right (and, really...what is 'right' anyway?) we limit our growth potential. We lock into a closed comfort zone that leaves us on the defensive...a very ****withable position."
3. Stop wishing.
"'I wish' is often code for 'I want it. But I'm not willing to do the work to make it happen.' Rather than say 'I wish' ask yourself what you are willing to do, change, or ask for in order to get what you want?" Petry Leanse suggests. "'I wish' can be a way of telling ourselves we're less powerful, less action-able than we actually are," she warns.
So instead of wishing, start doing. "Convert the theoretical desire to an action: a step, even a small one, closer to getting it," she recommends.
4. Forgive yourself.
"Nobody ****s with us like we **** with ourselves," claims Petry Leanse. "We've all messed up. We've likely paid for our mess-ups, whether publicly or in the private burden we carry inside. Yet our mess-ups are sometimes our greatest gifts. They reveal our values and our vulnerabilities, our hubris and our humanity. Give your mistakes, failures, belly-flops, whatever you want to call them a new name: 'teacher.'"
If you can face your mistakes full-on and learn from them, you'll strengthen your ability to handle the turbulence next time life gets rocky.
5. Respect your gut.
"So much of our learning, and of modern life, focuses on the brain. And that's awesome. Yet we're more than our brains. Our intuition, even our emotions, even our gut: all of these are forms of intelligence. We may not be able to logically understand something, or prove it with facts--but that doesn't mean it's not real. Pay attention to hunches or gut responses and factor them in as intelligence," advises Petry Leanse.