How Can I Increase my Adversity Quotient?

Ria Corda

June 27, 2019

One of the things necessary for success is the ability to quickly bounce back from any hurdle or failure. This is called resilience, also known as grit, and is measured by our adversity quotient.

The phrase “adversity quotient” was coined by Paul Stoltz in 1997 in his book Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities. Along with intelligence quotient (more popularly known as IQ) and emotional quotient, it is considered to be one of the indicators of success. It is used in predicting attitude, endurance, perseverance, life expectancy, learning, and behavior toward changes in the environment.

Since life often throws us curve balls and because change is a constant that we need to deal with, improving our adversity quotient is crucial.

Here are the ABCs that will help you increase your adversity quotient:

Accept that you are limited, but remember that you have a unique purpose.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

When you are young and also especially smart and talented, you feel like you can do anything. And in doing so, you try to be the best at everything you set your mind to. However, insecurity and frustration creep in when you discover that you cannot do everything and that there are people better than you.

In this scenario, you can either work even harder to be better than others to beat them, or you can quit comparing yourself to others and just do your best. You can be confident that your unique personality and giftings have a specific purpose no one else can fulfill.

Wanting to beat others might hamper your confidence, and put you in a cycle of pride when you do better than others and frustration when you don’t.

However, choosing to just do your best will allow you to accept that you can’t change the world by yourself, while keeping in mind that you are an important part of what God is doing.

This truth will make you realize that other people are as significant as you are, and yet, at the same time, it will do wonders for your confidence. When you embrace this, you will be able to see any hindrance or obstacle as an opportunity to hone your talent or to ask help from others.

Here are some practical steps to help you maximize your skills and talents:

  • Look for a coach.

One of the best ways to leverage your strengths is to find someone who is competent in your field and is willing to give you constructive feedback. Remember that the person does not have to be the best in your field, but he/she should have a heart to teach and train others. Even if the person seems too busy, ask. You’ll never know if he/she will make time or refer you to someone who can help you.

  • Forge strong connections with others.

Because you can’t be the best at everything, it is important to collaborate with other people, especially those who have different skill sets than you. This would mean doing our best to fulfill our part in group works, too. Keep a good relationship with your teammates by being a faithful contributor to the group.

Be aware of your weaknesses, but know that you are unconditionally loved and accepted.

. . . casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

1 Peter‬ ‭5:7

One of the reasons you may find it hard to move forward is because you believe that your mistakes and weaknesses dictate your future. But the truth is God loves and accepts you as you are. He is the one who can define you, and He has a plan for you.

And because He loves you, He wants you to throw away everything that hinders you from fulfilling your destiny and to run the race marked out for you (Hebrews 12:1). In this world, you will have to put all your effort in reaching perfection. But the key to developing our adversity quotient is a lifestyle of surrender to God.

Here are some practical steps to that kind of lifestyle:

  • Strengthen your heart and mind daily.

Many of the principles Jesus taught are countercultural that we need our hearts and minds to be renewed by the truth of His Word every day. This means that we will find our mindsets and beliefs challenged when we read the Bible, and the only way to be truly strong is to allow our heart and mind to be changed by it.

  • Celebrate your progress.

When you run a race, there is a possibility that you’ll stumble, have cramps, or get bruises. But the most important thing is to get up, get healed, and move forward. There will always be progress to be thankful for because you are no longer where you used to be. Even a tiny step forward in a particularly steep climb is worthy of celebration. The only time we get beaten by a mistake is when we let fear paralyze us so that we don’t move forward.

  • Find strength in community.

All of us have blind spots, so we need a community that we can trust to have our best interest in mind. We know that they will look out for us, that they will speak into our lives, and that they will help us when we get stuck or sidetracked.

Circumstances cannot be predicted, but believe that God is in control.

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭121:2‬

We try so hard to plan for the best outcome. But the truth is, most of the time, our circumstances will not align with our plans—the timing may not be right, people may not behave the way we imagine them to, or natural calamities and economic downturns happen.

It is important to know not just that you are loved and accepted by God, but that our God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and always present. In fact, He holds the universe together (Colossians 1:17).

This means that when your plans and dreams lie in tatters at your feet, you can let go and rest on the truth that God knows what’s ahead, He will never be caught by surprise, and He can turn even the worst circumstances for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Then you can be confident as you align your plans to His (because planning is great!) and move forward.

It’s interesting to note that when Julius Caesar imagined his kingdom to last, he did so by adopting his best general, Augustus, to be his son and heir. As humans, we naturally associate longevity and grit with strength, power, or skill.

But when Jesus chose His coheirs in the kingdom of God, He chose the limited, the weak, and the ones broken by circumstances.

And ironically, despite Caesar’s best efforts, the Roman Empire did not last. What remains of it are ruins that have become tourist spots.

But the kingdom of God is still standing, even after experiencing persecution and adversity, proving that grit is not found in strength nor skill but in a hope that’s constant and true.

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.

I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, 
for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

Lamentations 3:19–24


The Author

Ria Corda

Ria is a campus missionary at Every Nation Campus Fort Bonifacio. When she got the call for full time ministry in 2002, she said she would never disciple kids or high school students. Two years later, she joined Kids Ministry, and has been discipling preteens and teenagers ever since. She spends a lot of time marveling at the irony of it all, and being thankful for the times when God called us to do what we didn’t initially want to do.