#517  from Innovative Leader Volume 10, Number 2          February 2001

Your Adversity Quotient
by Paul Stoltz, Ph.D.

Dr. Stoltz is president and CEO of PEAK Learning, Inc., a consulting and research firm in San Luis Obispo, CA.  Email info@peaklearning.com; www.peaklearning.com . He is author of Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities (Wiley, New York, 1997) and Adversity Quotient@Work (Morrow, New York, 2000).  

How many adverse events do you experience on your average day?  Are you consumed by these events or are you letting them lead to stronger performance?  I developed the Adversity Quotient (AQ) to test the unconscious pattern of how people respond to adversity, and show how to increase it and, thereby, help individuals become valuable at work.

Adversity Response Profile

Imagine the following events as if they were happening right now.  Then circle the number that represents your answer to each of the related questions.

You suffer a financial setback.
To what extent can you influence this situation?
Not at all                                   1            2            3            4            5            Completely

You are overlooked for a promotion.
To what extent do you feel responsible for improving the situation?
Not responsible at all                 1            2            3            4            5            Completely                                                                                                                      responsible

You are criticized for a big project that you just completed.
The consequences of this situation will:
Affect all aspects of my life        1            2            3            4            5            Be limited to                                                                                                                     this situation

You accidentally delete an important email.
The consequences of this situation will:
Last forever                                1            2            3            4            5            Quickly pass

The high-priority project you are working on gets canceled.
The consequences of this situation will:
Affect all aspects of my life        1            2            3            4            5            Be limited to                                                                                                                     this situation

Someone you respect ignores your attempt to discuss an important issue.
To what extent do you feel responsible for improving this situation?
Not responsible at all                 1            2            3            4            5            Completely                                                                                                                      responsible

People respond unfavorably to your latest ideas.
To what extent can you influence this situation?
Not at all                                   1            2            3            4            5            Completely

You are unable to take a much-needed vacation.
The consequences of this situation will:
Last forever                                1            2            3            4            5            Quickly pass

You hit every red light on your way to an important appointment.
The consequences of this situation will:
Affect all aspects of my life          1            2            3            4            5            Be limited to                                                                                                                       this situation

After extensive searching, you cannot find an important document.
The consequences of this situation will:
Last forever                                1            2            3            4            5            Quickly pass

You workplace is understaffed.
To what extent do you feel responsible for improving this situation?
Not responsible at all                 1            2            3            4            5            Completely                                                                                                                     responsible

You miss an important appointment.
The consequences of this situation will:
Affect all aspects of my life        1            2            3            4            5            Be limited to                                                                                                                     this situation

You personal and work obligations are out of balance.
To what extent can you influence this situation?
Not at all                                   1            2            3            4            5            Completely

You never seem to have enough money.
The consequences of this situation will:
Last forever                                1            2            3            4            5            Quickly pass

You are not exercising regularly though you know you should.
To what extent can you influence this situation?
Not at all                                   1            2            3            4            5            Completely

Your organization is not meeting its goals.
To what extent do you feel responsible for improving this situation?
Not responsible at all                 1            2            3            4            5            Completely                                                                                                                      responsible

Your computer crashed for the third time this week.
To what extent can you influence this situation?
Not at all                                   1            2            3            4            5            Completely

The meeting you are in is a total waste of time.
To what extent do you feel responsible for improving this situation?
Not responsible at all                  1            2            3            4            5            Completely                                                                                                                       responsible

You lost something that is important to you.
The consequences of this situation will:
Last forever                                1            2            3            4            5            Quickly pass

Your boss adamantly disagrees with your decision.
The consequences of this situation will:
Affect all aspects of my life          1            2            3            4            5            Be limited to                                                                                                                       this situation

Scoring

Your AQ response is comprised of four CORE dimensions.  Understanding them is the first step toward improving your response to adversity, expanding your capacity, and, ultimately, increasing your overall AQ.

Insert each of the 20 numbers you circled on the Adversity Response Profile in the corresponding boxes that appear below.  Then insert the total for each column in the corresponding box.  Add the four totals and then multiply that number by two for your final score.

C                      O                      R                      E

1.  ___              2. ___               3. ___               4. ___

7.  ___              6. ___               5. ___               8. ___

13.___              11.___              9. ___               10.___

15.___              16.___              12.___              14.___

17.___              18.___              20.___              19.___

Total C =___   Total O =___  Total R =___  Total E =___

Total C+O+R+E x 2 = ARP Score =________

The average ARP score is 147.5.  What’s your score?  The higher the better.

Now, look at your CORE breakdown and determine which aspects of the AQ you need to improve.

C = Control

To what extent can you influence the situation?

How much control do you perceive you have?

Those with higher AQs perceive they have significantly more control and influence in adverse situations than do those with lower AQs.  Even in situations that appear overwhelming or out of their hands, those with higher AQs find some facet of the situation they can influence.  Those with lower AQs respond as if they have little or no control and often give up.

O = Ownership

To what extent do you hold yourself responsible for improving this situation?

To what extent are you accountable to play some role in making it better?

Accountability is the backbone of action.  Those with higher AQs hold themselves accountable for dealing with situations regardless of their cause.  Those with lower AQs deflect accountability and most often feel victimized and helpless.

R = Reach

How far does the fallout of this situation reach into other areas of your work or life?

To what extent does the adversity extend beyond the situation at hand?

Keeping the fallout under control and limiting the reach of adversity is essential for efficient and effective problem solving.  Those with higher AQs keep setbacks and challenges in their place, not letting them infest the healthy areas of their work and lives.  Those with lower AQs tend to catastrophize, allowing a setback in one area to bleed into other, unrelated areas and become destructive.

E = Endurance

How long will the adversity endure?

Seeing beyond even enormous difficulties is an essential skill for maintaining hope.  Those with higher AQs have the uncanny ability to see past the most interminable difficulties and maintain hope and optimism.  Those with lower AQs see adversity as dragging on indefinitely, if not permanently.

1-50  51-100  101-150  151-200  201-250  251-300
301-350  351-400  401-450  451-500 501-550  551-600
601-650

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