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Why You Should Raise Your Adversity Quotient

I’d like to know, on a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your adversity quotient?

Adversity is a part of life. Everyone experiences it, but some people seem to handle it better than others. Why is that? You might think that some people are just naturally resilient, but science shows that there are things everyone can do to increase their resilience - and that is to boost your adversity quotient (AQ).

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“I Love Challenges”... Adversity Quotient Meaning

What makes some people more resilient than others? Why do some people seem to "bounce back" after experiencing difficulties while others do not? Researchers have been studying these questions for years and have identified several factors that contribute to resilience. In this article, we'll take a look at the science of resilience and what you can do to raise your own adversity quotient.

Before we go further, I have a Resilient Thought Ladder guide that might just be the thing that propels you into resilience. Especially if you can’t quite believe that you can get there.


By the way, if we’re just meeting, I’m Resilience Coach Stacy Brookman. I love working with professional women who want to stop hiding behind a facade of confidence and want to truly command their personal power. I get to help them boost their adversity quotient score and level up their resilience in spite of life’s drama.


OK, so back to your adversity quotient meaning, and discussing why adversity is important.

There are different types of challenges that we experience in life.

1) Those that come at us and we HAVE to endure, and

2) Those we CHOOSE to tackle.

For those that come at us, we don’t have a choice. We simply get through these challenges for the most part. Time...and sometimes family or friends or self-help books...assist us as we inch through these challenges.

These are situations like illnesses, accidents, tough circumstances that are out of our control.

But your Adversity Quotient stems not only from the lemons that life throws at you...

Your Adversity Quotient stems from those life challenges that you choose to tackle.

Defining adversity quotient meaning

Defining Adversity Quotient (AQ)

According to psychologists, there are four types of intelligence: 

  • Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
  • Emotional Quotient (EQ)
  • Social Quotient (SQ)
  • Adversity Quotient (AQ)

An Adversity Quotient (AQ) is a measure of an individual's ability to cope with difficult life circumstances. It’s based on the premise that everyone faces difficulties in life, but some people are better equipped to deal with them than others. 

Hence, it is commonly known as the science of resilience. And that’s why adversity is important in many areas of life, particularly work.

The adversity quotient scale ranges from 1 to 10, with 1 indicating the lowest level of adversity and 10 indicating the highest level of adversity. It’s an adversity quotient test, of sorts.

Individuals with high adversity quotient scores are more likely to thrive in difficult situations and be less affected by negative life events.

Conversely, individuals with low adversity quotient scores are more likely to struggle in difficult situations and be more negatively impacted by life events.

AQ has been found to be a predictor of success in various fields, including business, sports, and leadership, job performance, educational attainment, and health outcomes. Those with high AQs are more likely to persevere in the face of setbacks and achieve their goals.

There are a number of factors that contribute to someone's AQ, including genes, upbringing, and life experiences.

However, it is possible to increase one's AQ through training and practice.

By learning how to effectively manage stress and cope with adversity, individuals can improve their AQ and increase their chances of success in life.

Indeed, choosing your own challenges is the superstar of increasing your adversity quotient.


Create Your Own Resilient Thought Ladder

The best way to believe new truths about yourself!

Using Your Adversity Quotient - Turning Obstacles Into Opportunities


You might be wondering...how does adversity affect a person?

Well, with adversity comes strength.

A recent study has shown that women with a high adversity quotient (AQ) are more likely to be successful in their careers than those with a low AQ. The study, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, found that women with a high AQ were more likely to be promoted and less likely to be fired than those with a low AQ.

This is actually a major thread in the top skills women leaders need to reach c-suite executive level positions. Check out all the top skills here: Top Skills Women Must Master to Get to the C-Suite

So why is having a high AQ so important for women, and especially female leaders? The answer may lie in the fact that women are more likely than men to face obstacles and setbacks in their careers. And when they do, they need to be able to overcome them quickly and efficiently in order to continue moving forward.

Those with a high AQ are able to do just that. They're able to identify the root cause of their problems and come up with creative solutions to overcome them. It’s all about using your adversity quotient, turning obstacles into opportunities.

Even more compelling, women are more likely than men to experience difficult life events such as poverty, violence, and sexual harassment. They also tend to have less social and economic resources to deal with these problems. As a result, they need to be able to rely on their own strength and resilience to get through tough times.

A high AQ can help women succeed in male-dominated fields. Studies have shown that women able to thrive in environments with high levels of stress and competition have higher AQs than those who don't. This ability gives them a critical edge in achieving their goals.

Most exciting of all, a high AQ can improve the overall health and well-being of women.

In my opinion, everyone should choose adversity challenges because it propels you to reach further into your potential than you’ve ever been before.

"Leverage every micro-adversity."

Jesse Sostrin, Strategy + Business 

Why It's Important for Leaders to Have a High Adversity Quotient


In today's business world, the ability to persevere in the face of adversity is an important skill for leaders. A high adversity quotient (AQ) can help leaders overcome challenges and achieve success.

Research has shown that AQ is a strong predictor of success in leadership roles.

Leaders with a high AQ are more likely to be effective in managing change, leading teams through times of crisis, and achieving long-term goals. A critical component that AQ brings to leaders is the ability to maintain composure in the face of challenges and setbacks, which enables leaders to make clear-headed decisions that benefit their organizations.

Developing a high AQ is not easy, but it is an important skill for leaders who want to achieve success in today's constantly changing business environment. Individuals with a high AQ are able to maintain their composure in difficult situations and bounce back quickly from setbacks. It allows them to persevere through difficult times and emerge stronger.

Furthermore, leaders with a high adversity quotient inspire others to do the same, creating a culture of resilience within their teams.

Should I Choose Adversity On Purpose?


Remember the two groups of challenges? Those that come at us and we have to endure, and those we choose to tackle.

That second group of challenges includes things that we put ourselves through on purpose in order to grow and learn and become stronger and more resilient. In other words, you’re building resilience strategies for yourself.

That means choosing to take on a challenge to get the results you want.

If you’re hunkering down and enduring circumstances in your life, I invite you to take a serious look at whether you’re truly being strong and overcoming adversity, or if you’re hiding from the tough things you need to do to make your situation better.

I’m asking you this because there was a point in my own life where I was just enduring.

I thought I was being strong staying in a tough relationship.

But it was simply accepting abuse. I was in adversity, but I wasn’t raising my adversity quotient.

I was hiding from the adversity of taking the tough action I needed to make a better life.

Until I turned it around....but that's a story for another day.

Here’s another example...I spent the 5 months working every night after work, every single day on the weekends, literally from sun up to sun down and beyond, on a summit. I knew that this would cause my business to skyrocket.

(In reality, it was truly an amazing event. The speakers said so, the participants said so.)

But for all that hard work, I barely broke even.

5 months of hard work.

Afterwards, I spent two weeks in an I'm-worthless-in-business funk. I wanted to hibernate.

I actually considered quitting completely. It just didn’t seem worth it.

I wasn’t raising my adversity quotient.

I was hiding from the adversity of taking the tough action I needed to make a better life and a better business.

Since then, I’ve increased my adversity quotient by creating strategies to build resilience.

Why You Should Raise Your Adversity Quotient

(in today’s environment)

In a rapidly changing world, it is more important than ever to have a high adversity quotient. Here are three reasons why you should raise your AQ:

1. The world is increasingly uncertain

No one knows what the future holds, but we do know that change is constant. To be successful in an uncertain world, you need to be able to adapt quickly to changes in your environment. Those with a high AQ are more resilient and adaptable, and as a result, are better equipped to deal with uncertainty.

2. Change brings opportunity

While some people see change as a threat, those with a high AQ see it as an opportunity. They understand that change can bring new opportunities for growth and development. This is one of the best reasons why adversity is important.
When it comes to bouncing back from tough times, some people seem to have a natural knack for it. For the rest of us, we may have to work a little harder at developing what is known as an “adversity quotient” (AQ). Here are four reasons why you should make increasing your AQ a priority:

3. Perseverance is key

Research has shown that people with a high AQ are more likely to achieve their goals and reach their potential than those with a low AQ. This is because they’re better able to persevere through setbacks and obstacles.

4. You’ll be happier

Adversity can actually make you happier in the long run if you have a high AQ. Although, 100% happiness is not the goal in life. I’ve got an upcoming blog post about that, so stay tuned.

The Benefits of a High AQ

Higher adversity quotient equates to more success

You're more likely to achieve your goals

You're more resilient, and better equipped to deal with difficult situations

You're more creative and more productive

You handle stress better, and be healthier

The more you're challenged, the more you grow

Facing difficult situations makes you stronger

Overcoming obstacles builds character

It's impossible to improve without adversity

Embracing adversity leads to a richer life, and a better outlook on life

What Happens in the Brain When Raising Your AQ?


According to recent studies, it turns out that people with a higher AQ are better able to rebound from setbacks because of the way their brains are wired.

Here’s how it works: when we experience a setback, our brains go into “fight or flight” mode. This triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which can impair our ability to think clearly and make rational decisions.

When faced with difficulties in life, some people crumble while others thrive. Why is this? Research suggests that it has to do with what's going on in their brains.

When faced with adversity, people who crumble tend to dwell on negative thoughts. This activates the stress response in the brain, which can lead to negative health consequences over time. People who thrive, on the other hand, have a different reaction to adversity.

They tend to view challenges as an opportunity for growth. This positive outlook activates the parts of the brain responsible for problem-solving and innovation. As a result, they're more likely to find creative solutions to difficult problems and come out of challenging situations stronger than before.

So, if you want to increase your resilience in the face of adversity, focus on raising your adversity quotient.

How to raise your AQ dog viewing computer

How to Raise Your AQ


When it comes to adversity, some people seem to have all the luck. They’re able to brush off rejection, ignore criticism and persevere through tough times with relative ease. They always seem to find a way to come out on top, no matter the odds. But for the rest of us, it can feel like we're constantly being dealt a losing hand.

So what separates the lucky few from the rest of us? It's not just luck - it's their high adversity quotient. 

What if there was a way to increase your chances of success when faced with adversity? What if there was a way to “ train” your brain to better deal with difficult situations?


Here are four tips to raise your AQ:


1) Don't dwell on the negative. When faced with a difficult situation, try to focus on the positive aspects of the situation and what you can learn from it. Keep things in perspective instead of indulging in all-or-nothing thinking. This is different from thinking everything is sunshine and daisies...it’s not. But thinking everything is doom and gloom isn’t helpful either. 

2) Cultivate a support network of family, friends, and colleagues who can offer advice and encouragement when times are tough. Talk to friends or family members who have been through similar experiences and can offer advice and support. Seek out feedback as well…but realize you may already have the answer inside of you.

3) Be proactive and persevere in the face of setbacks. Rather than feeling like a victim of circumstance, take charge and make an active effort to improve the situation by exploring alternative solutions. My favorite question to ask is: What does this make possible?

4) Embrace change, and CHOOSE challenges. Regularly engage in activities that help you explore your limits, fail forward, and bounce back from setbacks.

5) Don’t take things personally. Remember that setbacks, problems, challenges are not about your worth or value in the world. Normalize them. It’s a part of the human experience. When you don’t make it about you, it’s much easier to analyze, evaluate, and find solutions for adversity.

The ability to adapt is essential for anyone who wants to succeed in today’s constantly changing world. Leaders who are open to new ideas and willing to experiment are more likely to find creative solutions to difficult problems.

By raising their AQ, leaders can become more effective at navigate through challenging times and emerge stronger on the other side.

Real-Life Examples of Those With a High AQ


It's not just about what you know or how smart you are. It's also about how well you deal with obstacles and setbacks. Those who can maintain their composure under pressure and keep moving forward despite adversity are said to have a high adversity quotient, or AQ.

Here are three real-life examples of people with a high AQ:

  • In 2001, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger was piloting US Airways Flight 1549 when it struck a flock of geese and lost power in both engines. Sully calmly guided the plane into an emergency landing on the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew on board.
  • In 2015, Olympic runner Gabby Douglas was criticized for her hair and performance during the gymnastics competition at the world championships. But she didn't let the negative comments get to her.
  • Before she became one of the world's most successful authors, J.K. Rowling was struggling to make ends meet as a single mother on welfare. The Harry Potter author was fired from her job as a secretary and told she'd never make it as a writer. But she didn't give up on her dream, and today she is one of the most successful authors in the world.
  • The co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, was fired from his own company in 1985. But he went on to start another successful company, Pixar, and eventually returned to Apple, leading it to become one of the most valuable companies in the world.

You’ve probably heard other stories of people who dropped out of high schoo, spent time in jail, but turned their life around. Or those who grew up in an abusive home, ran away, bouncing from one dead-end job to another, but eventually earned a GED and made something of themselves.

In business and in life, those with a high adversity quotient (AQ) are the ones who thrive when faced with challenges. They are the ones who find opportunity in every setback and who never give up in the face of adversity.

How Women Leaders Leverage Their AQ


When it comes to adversity, women leaders must be able to face challenges head on. By leveraging their adversity quotient, they can not only overcome difficulties, but also use them as opportunities to grow and develop.

Of course, mistakes are inevitable, but leaders must be willing to learn from them. This involves being open-minded and reflective, as well as having a growth mindset. Know that mistakes are not a reflection of who you are, but of trying new things and learning new things.

When you’re able to adapt to change and see it as an opportunity for growth, you inspire others to do the same. In fact, leaders who’ve faced and overcome adversity are in a unique position to help their employees do the same.

Here are five ways you can leverage your adversity quotient with those you lead:

1. Be a role model. Show your employees that it's possible to overcome adversity and come out stronger on the other side.

2. Offer support and encouragement. Let your employees know that you're there for them and that you believe in their ability to overcome challenges.

3. Help them develop a positive mindset. Encourage your employees to see setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow.

4. Teach them resilience skills. Give your employees the tools they need to bounce back from difficult situations.

5. Celebrate accomplishments, big and small. Help your employees see the progress they're making, even when it's slow or difficult.

Raise Your Adversity Quotient - Final Call


Here’s the thing...whether in business or in life...victorious people know that they have to teach themselves what is possible.

...That you have to take action and fail

...That you can’t put success and happiness in a causation relationship

(You should work towards both in a conscious way)

…That often hard work comes before success…by years

...That you will fail

Victorious people know that failure is the price of success.

We have to get better at doing hard things.

I want to be a person who’s good at doing hard things. Not known for doing hard things...but good at them.


Doing hard things is the only way to accomplish impossible goals and living an amazing life.

And because hard things have the prize at the bottom of the box.

Now, just because you do hard things doesn’t mean you can condemn people who you don’t see on the outside doing hard things.

Everyone is on their own journey.

Choosing to raise your adversity quotient is a personal challenge. Instead, invite people to understand and explore their own adversity quotient.

I invite you to raise your adversity quotient.

I’m inviting you to understand and explore your own adversity quotient.

What difficult, but necessary, step do you need to take to overcome a challenging situation you’re in?




Doing hard things is part of life. Here’s the thing…according to recent studies, AQ could be a better predictor of success than IQ.

The science of resilience is a complex and ever-evolving field. Key takeaways can help us to build our own resilience in the face of adversity.

It’s important to understand that resilience is not a fixed trait – it is something that can be developed over time with effort and practice.

My wish for you is that you don’t abdicate your personal power to someone else or to society or to circumstances.

Take back control over your own life by boosting your adversity quotient and choosing to do hard things for yourself.

When you do, it will be the most powerful vitamin you can ever consume.

YOU have the power to take action to change your life.

One thing I know to be true, adversity is one of the ingredients to a more resilient and joy-filled life.

A life that you deserve.

I challenge you to explore your adversity quotient.


If you can’t quiiiiite get your thoughts to go to where you want, this Thought Ladder is the easiest path to work your way there. Even better, it works for pretty much every area of your life. Go get it now.


Now you know how to raise your adversity quotient, but what about our old nemesis: imposter syndrome or setting boundaries? What about if you're a people-pleaser? I’ve got three amazing blogs below for you to read next to help you with that. 

It's time to develop your adversity quotient...

And get over people-pleasing, overwork, and overwhelm.


Let's work together!



Here's what you should read next... 

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Being able to set boundaries is one of the smartest skills you can implement. And setting resilient boundaries is entirely possible....even if they've been trampled before, or if you've "failed" in enforcing them.

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How to Overcome People-Pleasing & Approval-Seeking

If you find yourself people-pleasing or always seeking approval, you're not alone.

And perfectionism is a twin of people-pleasing. They stem from the same thing…a fearful thought that our brain is feeding us. Let's solve this problem!

Now I'm Curious!

Imposter syndrome: Why do I feel like a fraud?

Ever felt like a fraud despite your successes? You may be suffering from impostor syndrome. Left unchecked, imposter syndrome can lead to self-doubt, anxiety, and even depression. The good news is that imposter syndrome can be overcome.

Now I'm Curious!