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Overcoming Adversity – Why it’s mission critical !!

February 11, 2010 3 comments

Adversity (Adversity = Obstacles) in our day-to-day lives is 10 times greater today than it was 21 years ago! In today’s competitive environment, this alarmingly record pace will only continue to grow! 21 years of research by Dr. Paul G. Stoltz‘s Adversity Quotient (AQ) program shows that we’ve gone from experiencing (on average) 3 instances of adversity, to 29 instances each day!

Having had my my fair share of adversity over the course of my yet young 😉 lifetime, I especially appreciated & identified with the recent HBR Article “How to Bounce Back from Adversity“.

Yesterday, as part of my own research process in search of ever improving tools for resolving my client’s “challenges”, I had the privilege to have a 1h exchange with this leading edge expert in dealing with adversity. What did I learn? Allot of what I already suspected, but putting it into a whole new perspective, and best yet, accompanied with some powerfully magnificent tools.

My key-take-away:

  • AQ is to Human Resilience what IQ is to Human Intelligence
  • As humans, in work, at home & at play, over our lifetime we all fall into 3 categories
    • Quitters
    • Campers
      • Typically settle for “what is”, even though they may “aspire” for more
      • Studies show 60 to 90% representative of a typical workforce
    • Climbers
      • Consistently action their “aspire” mode & aim to over-achieve
  • Our (instinctive or amygdala) Reptilian Response can be overridden by our (rational) Frontal Cortex
    • Reptilian Response is 10% genetic & 90% programed by external stimuli
      • initial “hard wiring” starts in our childhood/formative years
    • We’re not doomed to live as we have been “hardwired” and we can “choose” to act based on more rational judgment & thought
      • depending on many varying factors, professional help, including personal development such as a Landmark Forum program might be required to learn new habits & re-program/override your natural/instinctive responses

More detailed information from the source themselves can be found in 3 wonderful videos well worth investing 30 minutes (in total).

Let’s get practical! Obstacles can be anything from the expected phone call that isn’t returned, to the promotion we didn’t get, to the love that isn’t reciprocated as “we would have expected. And whilst the “quitter” will allow adversity to freeze them in their very tracks and give-in, the “camper” will settle for “that’s life” and there isn’t much I can do to change it (walking dead/drones), and the climber will momentarily “lick his/her wounds” and get on with the business of turning an obstacle into an opportunity.

Another practical example is the child or adult that based on the circumstantial surroundings of his upbringing, sees challenges as insurmountable obstacles that are “the end of the world” (basically “quits”), or the finance director that instead of taking the initiative of a 5 minute Google search to overcome an obstacle, delays a significant process by “camping” and adopting an ingrained habit of writing one more e-mail, resulting in a “found solution” being delayed to, at the very least, the next business day.

How is that last decision affecting your business these days?

The fact that “who you (currently) are” (different from “what you are”) has already been pre-determined when you were a child, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to succumb to that fact.  You can change “who you can become” at any time you want. Only 10% of our behavior is genetic, and therefore if the remaining 90% are externally influenced (yes, we’ve been programed by family, friends & surroundings), with the roots being established very early on in childhood when we naturally imitate the people that surround us, then we can make the choice to “re-program” our internal circuitry. I liken it to a phrase I commonly use which is “your current reality is only the consequence of your thoughts & ensuing actions to-date, whereas your future (or dream) is completely within your control, your choices only being limited by either the lack of a plan (strategy) or “limiting beliefs“. Pretty straightforward, no..?

Just because we are “programed” at an early age, this doesn’t take away our “choice” to act as we would like, it only means that we will have to work harder at it to reprogram ourselves by developing & ingraining new habits into our decision process. A decision is merely an action based on a previous thought, so by understanding & following this process, we can establish an “override” from our reptilian/instinctive part of our brain that has us “react”, moving our decisions & consequent actions/outcomes to our more rational frontal cortex of  our brain. Another way to state that is that the “re-programing” or “override” can be effectively done in many ways, and most effectively by creating control disciplines for ourselves to consciously make decisions that override our ingrained habits (reptilian brain) and re-wire new habits based on choices that are actually much better for us & well thought out. At least that’s my take on what happens, seeing as I’m merely an enthusiastic amateur in the field of psychology.

For myself, it’s taken allot of life mistakes, along with some professional counseling, including breakthrough Landmark Forum session a few years back, to get my head around how I can effectively gain greater control over what many would call our “monkey brain/mind“. AQ is an exceptionally robust and globally proven predictor of human resilience, energy, capacity, effectiveness, and performance. Your AQ also influences your optimism, innovation, problem-solving and decision-making abilities, income, health, and perseverance.

Like anything in life, in order for you to affect change, there are three basic steps that have to first take place before you experience “success”, and that is to:

  1. Gage it
  2. Understand it
  3. Improve it (reinforcement challenge)

I’ve worked with allot of different methods, but having taken the AQ Profile Exercise last night, I can say from first hand experience that it is a revolutionary simple 10-15 minute survey that will have you immediately understand your “starting point”, or “base-camp”, seeing as AQ’s tools like to comparison mountain climbing. And remember, that’s only the beginning, a full program will definitely get you (and your team) powerfully headed back on that journey to the top of your summit!

At our core, we are in our personal life as we are in our professional. The roots of your behavioral characteristics can’t be segmented in a sustainable & scalable fashion. You can either allow the energy of adversity to hold you back, or harness that same energy to fuel you powerfully forward!

It’s your choice.. so what’s your next move?

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