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LIFE Adversity Quotient

By Orrin Woodward

Adversity Quotient (AQ) is the ability to persevere through numerous setbacks in order to achieve one’s dreams.

Everyone has the ability to develop AQ, but winners through purpose, vision, and perseverance develop it, while the rest do not.

The LIFE community is a great way to start learning AQ. Here is a portion of the Adversity Quotient chapter from RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE. Enjoy. Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

Two Types of Pain

Another compromise that leads to failure and despair is an improper response to the pain inherent in the process of growth.

There are actually two types of pain: one comes from the inside due to the change process; the other comes from the outside due to criticism from those unwilling to make the same changes.

Hope is the only fuel capable of burning through both types of pain.

Without hope, either of the pain versions will trump one’s willingness to endure, instead choosing to stop the pain by quitting the journey.

Author Robert Grudin writes,

“One might reply that most people who surrender simply lack the ability to get very far. But it is more accurate to say that ability and intelligence, rightly understood, include a readiness to face pain, while those characteristics which we loosely term ‘inadequacy’ and ‘ignorance’ are typically associated with the avoidance of pain.”

When the pain reaches a certain threshold, everything inside of a person screams for relief, but champions, people with high AQ, persevere.

Continuous Focus

Pain is overcome through the continuous focus on one’s purpose.

Moreover, achieving greatness will require a faith that can move mountains, an AQ to endure the rising pain in the process, eventually reaching levels of success that more timid souls refuse to believe possible.

Grudin elaborates on the outside pain given to achievers as an unjust reward for their quest for personal excellence:

“Modern society has evolved an idiomatic defense of non-achievement so subtle and elegant that it almost makes failure attractive.

“We can equivocate with failure by saying that we could not stand ‘the pressure’.

“We can inflate mediocrity by calling cow colleges universities, by naming herds of middle-level executives, vice presidents or partners, and by a thousand other sorts of venal hype.

“We can invert the moral standard by defending a fellow non-achiever as being too sensitive or even too good for the chosen arena.

“This double rejection of pain—a surrender sanctified by a euphemism—has in our time achieved institutional status. Because it includes its own anti-morality, it can be passed on with pride from generation to generation.

“Other ages may have been as full of non-achievers as ours, but no other age, I believe, has developed so comprehensive a rhetoric of failure.

“To conclude, then:  those people in quest of intellectual dignity and independence in the late twentieth century must act in a cultural context that has done its best to annul or camouflage one of the key elements in the quest, the challenge of pain.

“For this reason such people currently labor under a double burden: they must face the pains inherent in their task, and they must do so in a culture that has little appreciation for their suffering.”

What Winners Know

Today’s achievers then, handle not only the traditional pain associated with excellence, but the additional pain associated with the envious prattle of today’s internet age non-achievers.

Champions understand that it’s better to be mocked and criticized by non-achievers, than to become a non-achiever themselves.

AQ can be developed, but only through discarding excuses, rejecting compromises, and choosing to feed one’s faith, not one’s fears.

In order to achieve dreams, people must willingly surrender who they are, to become who they dream to be. One cannot have his cake and eat it too.

AQ refuses to surrender personal responsibility (what one desires) to an impersonal environment (what is offered).

Bestselling author Chris Brady, in his book Rascal, articulates what it takes to break free the herd,

“It takes character to be different. It takes character to stand apart from the masses for legitimate, purposeful reasons.

“It takes character to be who God called you to be without succumbing to the pressures of others and their ideas of who you should be and how you should live.

“For those who embody this concept and live a truly authentic life, we will assign the name of Rascal.”

People with AQ are Rascals, refusing to be lulled to sleep by comfort, choosing instead, to pursue their convictions over conveniences.

Rascals pay the temporary price of pain for success, rather than pay the permanent price of regret for failure.


Orrin Woodward is the co-founder of TEAM, a leadership development and training company, and the New York Times best-selling co-author of Launching a Leadership Revolution.

Named by the International Association of Business as a Top 10 Leadership Guru, he is dedicated to building leaders and entrepreneurs and promoting freedom and prosperity.

Orrin blogs regularly at Orrin Woodward. He lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida with his wife and four children.

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