How does Adversity Quotient define ones Ability to Endure?

How does Adversity Quotient define ones Ability to Endure?

People often judge an individual with regard to his or her intellectual capacity and cognitive abilities. We are misguided by the assumption that someone’s success is determined by their smartness. Intelligence is indeed an integral part of excellence. But success is not only determined by one’s achievements, but is also dependent upon how capable an individual is to persevere in times of adversities. Life is unprecedented at times and we may encounter several challenges in our journey towards triumph. Thus it is necessary to develop skills that enable us to overcome these challenges and to grow out of it. This ability of individuals to overcome hardships is labeled as the adversity quotient.

 Adversity quotient (AQ) is defined as the ability of an individual to think, manage, direct, and endure challenges and difficulties in life (Utami, Hardjono, and Karyanta, 2014). The concept of AQ was proposed and conceptualized by Dr Paul Stoltz. Stoltz categorized people into three types based on their level of adversity quotient; Quitters, Campers, and Climbers. Quitters, as he said, are those who lead compromised lives. They are easily broken by negative events and become hopeless about their success. They quickly quit from every attempt to overcome the barrier and will never try to solve the problem. They will thus have to lead a miserable life. Campers are ready to fight till an extent but even they are not persistent in their efforts. They always prefer a comfortable life and any negative experience will make them scared. They will be happy only if their life flows smoothly. Climbers, on the other hand, are the real achievers. They are ready to fight till they attain success regardless of the challenges they face. They will never give up until they achieve their goal. Nothing in life can defeat them. They are self-motivated and consistent with their efforts. They are highly optimistic and never lose hope irrespective of the difficulties they face.

Elizabeth Le Thi (2007) described how performance of individuals in workplace will be affected according to which of the above categories they belong to. Quitters are less ambitious people and never take up any complex responsibilities. As a result, they are never an asset for their organization. Campers are willing to put a minimal amount of effort but they also are average workers so that the organization may not be able to achieve the best from them. Climbers, as the researcher said, will be the ideal workforce of an organization as they are highly motivated and committed as well as have an intention to grow and excel in life.  

However, Stoltz proposed that since adversity quotient is an acquired trait, it is easy for quitters and campers to learn about how to be a climber. For that, Stoltz formulated the LEAD sequence which consists of following four guidelines:

  • Listen to your response to adversity
  • Establish accountability
  • Analyze the evidence
  • Do something

In addition to these conceptualizations, Stoltz also proposed four dimensions to measure adversity quotient. The four dimensions are abbreviated as CORE and are described in the following manner:

  • Control– It is the extent to which individuals are able to manage their life and control the negative consequences before getting worse.
  • Ownership– It is the extent to which you are accountable for your actions and are willing to take responsibilities to make adverse situations better.
  • Reach– It is the extent to which the challenges you face extrapolate to other aspects of your life. It measures how much capable are you to resist such challenges from affecting other necessities such as your profession or family life.
  • Endurance– It is the extent to which you are capable of tolerating pain and yet be optimistic of future and believing that something positive waits for you in the opposite side of all adversities.

Furthermore, Shivaranjani (2014) formulated control as determined by resilience and tenacity, ownership by action and engagement, reach by burden and effort, and endurance by hope and willingness to persevere. A study by Lipa (2015) on student leaders found that among the four CORE dimensions, students are at a low level on control and reach compared to ownership and endurance. In addition to these dimensions, the adversity quotient of individuals can also be influenced by several other factors. For instance, Vinas and Malabanan (2015) assessed the association between adversity quotient and coping strategies among college students. The major coping strategies students tend to use to overcome adversities were identified to be the capability to determine adversities, ability to cope with the adversities immediately, as well as ability to rebuild one’s confidence and social network.

Success begins when you are willing to move out of your comfort zone and do what others think might be impossible for you. Being highly intelligent and smart is undoubtedly a blessing. But if you are unable to resist and hold out against challenges in life, you will not be to utilize your intelligence and potential to the maximum extent. This is where adversity quotient becomes important. Running away from hardships is easy and effortless. But it takes you nowhere in life. On the other hand, it requires courage and determination to fight with your adversities and to uplift yourself from life stressors. But if you are able to do it, then your life will be transformed like a phoenix bird reborn from ashes.

About the Author

Parvathy Viswanath
PhD Scholar (Psychology).

I'm Parvathy Viswanath, PhD scholar in Psychology from Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore, Karnataka, India. I hail from Thrissur, Kerala.

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