The Adversity Advantage

The Adversity Advantage (Simon & Schuster, 2010)

This book is co-authored by Paul Stoltz, Ph.D and Erik Weihenmeyer.  Dr. Stoltz has spent decades studying adversity and is the creator of the Adversity Quotient, a measure of one’s posture with respect to adversity.  At the center of  one’s AQ is the CORE (Control-Ownership-Reach-Endurance).  Erik Weihenmeyer bacame totally blind in his early teens and is the only blind person to ever climb the tallest peak on every continent, including Mount Everest.

Appropriately, the book is divided into seven summits (chapters) consisting of alternating entries between Paul and Erik.  The authors assert that adversity not only has the potential for good, but adversity is essential for everyday greatness.

One’s response to adversity is modeled as a continuum ranging from avoidance, surviving and coping at the bottom to managing and harnessing at the top.   Harnessing adversity means using it to elevate oneself and others (suffering well).  While most people move between various levels of the continuum, the key is to minimize time spent at the lower levels so that the substantial energy used there may be more productively utilized harnessing adversity while closing the gap between one’s regular and adversity strengths.

The chapter (summit) on suffering well is especially significant and is reminiscent of  the Henri Nouwen inThe Wounded Healer.   In one poignant example, Dr. Stoltz states that “to suffer well is to marinate in the pain, rather than anesthetize yourself against it”.  As Jeff Manion might say, welcome to the land between, where your life can be transformed!



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Dave Henning

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