Hello. I typically prefer posts that present the positives, particularly if it's about challenges. I thought this was interesting. Positive. And real. Embrace challenges - the best of the best do. Go for it.
When Adversity Strikes, What Do You Do?
"Hot" and "timeless." Those are the words last weekend's International Herald Tribune used to describe Greek statues. The same two words could be used to describe that other thing that makes the big difference for you — for any leader, team, or enterprise — resilience. Resilience is suddenly everywhere. And, by the end of this blog, it can upgrade the lens through which you view and lead both those around you and your life.
Flying London to San Francisco, I found the words "resilient," or "resilience" 13 times. And I was hardly trying. RESILIENT. The word stares down at you from the giant corporate ad board as you clear security at Heathrow. Not a bad theme for travel these days.
In the stores, I found "resilient" or "resilience" on woman's clothing labels, kid's toy packaging, sports gear, even a perfume bottle. While scouring five different publications on the flight, I found it describing everything from banished refugees, sport teams, financial markets and products, to leaders, children, communities, even drug lords and the Taliban. It's as if "resilient" has morphed from an adjective to the defining virtue.
So yes. Resilience is hot.
It's also timeless. All our core stories are about what happens when human beings and adversity collide. From those moments tragedies unravel and greatness is spawned. Adversity both destroys and elevates. It both strangles and sparks life.
What is your relationship with adversity? What role has it played in becoming who you are, in forging your essential character and mindset? How has it influenced your optimism, energy, opportunities, relationships, health, performance, capacity, and leaps of faith? Can you think of any force that has been more profoundly formative?
Here's just one relevant example as you ponder the role resiliency plays for yourself and your people. We at PEAK measured the resilience of 1,600 people in the UK to see how it stacked up against these factors: happiness, quality of life, exercise, diet, energy, optimism, engagement at work, sick days, and a broad range of health factors. Resilience was statistically significant in predicting not one or two, but all of these factors.
Through my past three decades of research on the subject, I've learned something shockingly simple: It comes down to one of two things. Over the course of your years, either adversity consumes you, or you consume it. Unfortunately, being consumed by adversity is far more common than truly consuming it.
Ready for a challenge? Rate yourself on this Adversity Continuum.
1.Avoiding Adversity — Do you ever postpone, delegate, ignore, or sidestep a difficulty that you could or should have taken on?
2.Surviving Adversity — Sometimes coming out alive is a major victory. But then life asks, "Now what?" or "What do we do now?"
3.Coping with Adversity — How much energy do you expend just keeping your head above water, or coping with your daily dose of adversity?
4.Managing Adversity — Beyond coping, how often do you at least do something positive with the adversity?
5.Harnessing Adversity — How often do you use the adversity to achieve gains you could never enjoy without it? How many moments do you have, when, like an alchemist you convert adversity into fuel that propels you to a place you could never get to without it?
I've surveyed more than 1,000 companies in 53 countries with these questions. And the sad truth is, most (70-90 percent) of the time, people do some combination of avoiding, surviving, and coping, meaning adversity is consuming them. About 10-30 percent of the time people will manage the adversity. Very rarely (five percent) do people and their enterprises truly harness it.
The ultimate state of zen-like resilience perfection is something I call, "Response Ability," which I define as, "Your ability to respond optimally to whatever happens the moment it strikes." That means naturally harnessing the force of adversity provides to fuel a deeply enriching and rewarding life. This is the highest aspiration.
How much does it matter? Beyond resilience, what other factor (outside of sheer luck!) could have a more profound effect on both your short and long-term success?
"Hot" and "timeless." Garden art may come and go, but adversity is not going away any time soon. It is the core human drama. It's the core of your drama, and if harnessed with superior resilience, it could be the fuel cell of your success.
Dr. Paul G. Stoltz is CEO of PEAK Learning, Inc., Chairman of the Global Resilience Institute, and the originator of the Adversity Quotient (AQ) theory and method, currently used within Harvard Business School's Executive Education program.