by Vidya Chari (parent)
From the moment you wake up in the morning until you drift off to sleep at night, you’ll face about 26 adversities, ranging from petty annoyances to major setbacks, according to Dr. Paul Stoltz, president and CEO of Peak Learning Inc., who recently visited The Harker School as part of the Common Ground Speaker Series. Witty and engaging, Stoltz captivated the audience gathered at Nichols Hall with examples of resilience to adversities in his personal life.
A decade ago, Stoltz coined the term “Adversity Quotient,” or AQ, to describe the science of human resilience. To have a successful AQ is to perform optimally in the face of adversity. A person with low AQ, on the other hand, would be the first to burn out. Adversity, Stoltz said, “both destroys and elevates, strangles and sparks life.” Some people with high AQ can actually cause more adversity than they harness. Stoltz believes many are afraid of failures because their parents have been so lovingly protective and have done their best in removing every fathomable adversity.
Stoltz went on to identify the three types of AQ people: climbers, quitters and campers. High AQ climbers seek challenge, low AQ quitters flee from it and moderate AQ campers, which Stoltz said make up about 80 percent of the work force, are content and happy, stuck in the status quo.
Going hand-in-hand with AQ is Response Ability. This term for the response when adversity strikes is the key to building and developing resilience. When employers worldwide were asked which they would prefer, a person with great talent but low resilience, or a person with exceptional resilience but low talent, almost 90 percent picked resilience. This is because they believe “highly resilient people will find a way to figure out how to learn to do what they have to do whereas those lacking resilience will join the throngs of great talent gone to waste,” Stoltz explained.
For those of us who are concerned with our response when faced with adversity, it is comforting to know that people can improve their resilience and, in turn, improve their performance.
Stoltz said that if we think of any person we consider great, that person has overcome adversity along the way – we can’t unleash the greatness in ourselves without adversity. We are all “hardwired” to react differently to adversity, but unlike IQ, it’s possible to improve AQ.
Stoltz then talked about the importance of developing what he calls the 3G mindset, which is broken into, “global, good and grit.” Global he defines as an openness and connectivity to the greater world; good, as may be expected, refers to integrity and kindness; and grit relates to toughness and tenacity.
“You can’t necessarily control what happens but if you can master how you respond to what happens, you can craft your destiny. So if adversity is harnessed with superior resilience, it could be the fuel cell of your success,” said Stoltz.