Your Adversity Quotient

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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By Rick Seymour

For a very long time it was believed that IQ (Intelligence Quota) was the primary determinant of success. It turns out IQ has virtually nothing to do with success in life. Then a few years ago Emotional Quotient (EQ) was thought to be a significant indicator of success – and yes, to some degree it is. But more recently, Paul Stoltz, PhD has used the research of Dr. Albert Bandura on Self-Efficacy to demonstrate that peoples’ AQ (Adversity Quotient) probably has a much more dramatic impact on their ability to succeed than anything else.

Dr. Stoltz did a fascinating experiment with one of the largest insurance firms in the country. Over the years the company had developed a battery of tests to give to prospective sales people in order to profile those that would be the most successful. Dr. Stoltz asked the company to allow him to test the AQ of the bottom third of their applicants – that they summarily rejected as sales people. They agreed to hire on probation those applicants they had rejected if they scored high on AQ. It turns out those they had rejected but scored high on AQ out sold their “ideal” candidates 3 to 1.

In short, those people with the capacity to overcome adversity, regardless of their skills, intelligence or innate talents are much more likely to be successful at whatever they do.

In categorizing how people deal with adversity, Dr. Stoltz identified 3 different types of folks:


  • These are the folks that are destined for the top

  • They let nothing stop them
  • The “Summit Team”: On large expeditions to the world’s highest peaks, there are those who play a support role throughout and those that are committed to go for the summit. As an expedition proceeds it soon becomes apparent those that are physically fit enough to go for the summit. But as time passes and things become more difficult, it is less about physical fitness and more about mental toughness. When you are exhausted from the cold, lack of sleep, oxygen deprivation, hunger, and constant life threatening situations – it is the mentally tough who succeed and survive. Those that are willing to put the pain, the cold and the physical discomforts aside and focus on the goal. Those that are willing to go past what they thought were their physical limits. When Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first to summit Mt. Everest, it wasn’t because they were lucky, not because they had perfect conditions and not because were physically more fit than all those before them that had tried. It was because they thought the goal was more important than the challenges, the pain, or the discomfort.

  • In business, climbers are those that no matter how many times they ‘fail’, they will pick themselves up and try again.

  • Have had some success, perhaps even significant success, but have run up against a wall

  • They need to rest for awhile OR they need to fall back and regroup/rethink their approach

  • Perhaps they have met their goals and have not set new ones (so they are stagnating)

  • The good news is campers can start climbing again anytime they choose!

      Quitters are those who stop at:

  • The first disappointment

  • Their first couple of prospecting calls and they don’t get an appointment

  • Their first meeting when nobody shows

  • Their first presentation and the prospect says no

  • Their own excuse of “This business really isn’t for me” because things got uncomfortable.

  • The embarrassment of not succeeding right out of the starting blocks, and it’s not likely they will ever come back to it.

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