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Harness the power of the adversity quotient

There’s no avoiding that we’ll face adversity at some point. In our industry, for example, 78% of marketers rate their job stress as a seven or higher on a ten-point scale. Interaction with the public, deadlines, and growth potential were all flagged as stressors.

It’s not just the media and marketing world, though. Obstacles, tensions, and potential disappointments exist in every industry. We will face them throughout our personal and professional lives. However, it’s how we respond to them that matters. Not that they happen in the first place.

The ability of individuals to overcome hardships is often referred to as the Adversity Quotient (AQ). It is a measure of the ability to withstand challenges and grow and excel amidst them. The higher the AQ, the better a person can relate to others and adapt to their environment.

In a dynamic and unpredictable world, resilience is a cornerstone of success.

Individuals with a high AQ exhibit exceptional problem-solving skills, emotional intelligence, and the capacity to bounce back from setbacks. These attributes empower us to face challenges head-on and turn them into opportunities for growth and innovation.

AQ is beneficial on an individual basis but also collectively. Resilience fosters personal growth and increases an organisation’s overall strength and adaptability. Fortunately, whether you are an individual or a manager looking to enhance a team’s AQ, resilience is a muscle that can be flexed and strengthened with a few adjustments.

Cultivate a growth mindset

The key to thriving is to have a growth mindset and to recognise that you have control over your abilities and can learn and improve. It’s true that hard work, effort, and perseverance are necessary to be successful, but the notion that you are in charge of your future is extremely powerful. With a growth mindset, you are more likely to embrace challenges as opportunities for development. Setbacks are stepping stones on the path to success. Almost every obstacle is surmountable.

The right attitude

A popular myth about AQ is that it is simply the need to be more positive. This is not the case – positive thinking will not magically turn challenges into wins. However, it will help to put you in the right mindset. For example, if a candidate loses the final round at an interview once or twice, he or she might be more anxious the third time and perform poorly. When you maintain a positive attitude, you are more likely to succeed and feel more confident in yourself and your ability to nail that interview or perfect that business pitch. The right attitude also helps with stress, which will drop off as a result of this increased confidence.

Develop emotional intelligence

Understanding and managing emotions effectively is crucial to developing a high AQ. Facing adversity can be highly emotional, making people feel frustrated, disappointed, upset and worried. By being more self-aware of your emotions and how to control them, you will be enabled to make reasonable decisions even in highly stressful situations. Practices like mindfulness and self-reflection can massively help develop emotional intelligence.

Build a strong support network

Having a strong support network is crucial in times of adversity. Positive and supportive individuals to lean on can provide encouragement and guidance. Additionally, sharing challenges with colleagues, friends, and mentors can provide fresh perspectives and, as a result, solutions. Building resilience doesn’t need to be a “one-man trait”; asking for help along the way is OK.

Maintain a healthy work-life balance

Physical and mental well-being is crucial for building and sustaining resilience. No one can be successful running on an empty tank. If you’re burned out or rundown, problems will feel like mountains when they could be molehills. Remember to allocate time for relaxation, exercise, and pursuing activities that bring joy.

From a business leader’s perspective, it’s essential to encourage employees to flex their AQ muscle by leading from the front. Keeping open lines of communication and encouraging employees to take risks and pursue their ideas within the organisation can help improve its collective AQ. It sets a precedent, making it easier for leadership to turn to employees when the organisation needs to pivot or solve a problem.

The current landscape is stressful – rising prices, higher mortgage rates, and the ongoing cost of living crisis are easily a catalyst for adversity for many people and businesses. More and more companies are looking to AQ to measure those critical tools needed to face this future. In any case, it’s imperative to keep in mind that resilience isn’t a skill you can acquire overnight  – it takes years to practice responding mindfully to challenges. However, with practice and key adjustments, you’ll realise you have a lot more control over events than you realise.

Article originally published in HR Director.

Dani Saadu
Head of People and Culture

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