What's Your Adversity Quotient (AQ) & How Can it Help You Handle Life's Challenges?

By Reniel


Last Updated: February 12, 2022

Great leaders are known for their great qualities - such as an indomitable will, accountability, patience, and the ability to adapt and even thrive in any environment they find themselves in.

But as any adult knows, leadership roles don't only apply to politics, nor do they end in the corporate world. Leaders (and their leadership qualities) are expedient in all walks of life - from the big to the small, serious to frivolous.

Hence, these qualities can be honed and developed by everyone (kids and adults, male and female.)

Sadly, families, schools, and society at large seldom teach people how to be leaders - they'd rather drum into their psyche obedience and fear of failure.

A lot of people grow up being told what to do all their lives, and they suddenly shiver and break when they face real-life problems and adversities because no one is telling them what to do anymore.     

The problem is, while families, schools, and society at large might be great at helping people develop their Intelligence Quotient (IQ), Social Quotient (SQ), as well as Emotional Quotient (EQ), they do a poor job of developing their Adversity Quotient (AQ).

And without or lack of this important quotient, the rest may be insufficient in handling life's challenges. 


What Are the 4 Types of Quotients?

In case you're wondering what these types of quotients mean:

1. Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

A measure of a persons' comprehensive ability to handle information. The ability to solve math problems, memorize facts, and recall subject matter when needed. 

2. Emotional Quotient (EQ)

The measure of a person's ability to maintain or be at peace with others. It may involve matters as mundane as keeping to time, being responsive in conversations, being humble, genuine, and considerate of others, yet it has far-reaching effects.

3. Social Quotient (SQ)

The measure of a person’s ability to connect, make friends and build a network of "friends", as well as the ability to maintain it for years or decades to come. The larger and stronger the network, the more a person is considered to have a high SQ

4. Adversity Quotient (AQ)

According to Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D. in his book, "Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities", is the ability of a person to "deal with" adversities in his or her life.

In other words, AQ is purely a measure of a person's resilience. Adversity or Adaptability Quotient is the ability to go through difficulties, pains, disappointments, trauma, etc., without losing your mind. 

Read this next: The Top 4 Best Personality Tests & How They Can Help Your Personal Development


Why is Adversity Quotient (AQ) Important in Life?

Having a low AQ isn't something that can easily be augmented or walked around (as in the case of low SQ or IQ) as every individual is bound to face challenges at one point or the other in life. This could be the loss of a huge sum of money, a job, a loved one, or some other tragedy.

Without high AQ, sadness, anxiety, depression, and suicide are usually not far behind. In other words, AQ can help prevent the onset of some mental health problems.    

There’s no denying that adversities are an inescapable part of life, so we should prepare for them.

It is true that people who have "higher EQ and SQ" tend to do better in life than those with "high IQ but low EQ and SQ". However, none of those qualities would save a person from the devastating blow of a gut-wrenching setback except a high AQ.

But having a high AQ is even more than that! Having a high Adversity Quotient has been linked to some very expedient abilities an individual ought to have to succeed in life. 


Higher Adversity Quotient Indications

According to developmental psychologist, Emmy Werner Ph.D., on "Resilience Theory", children who have high AQ also exhibit the following characteristics: 

  • High reasoning: The ability to face complex and convoluted problems without backing down. This leads to more successes in solving problems and that builds their self-confidence. 
  • Emotional Pillars: They tend to develop (more) support systems outside their immediate family (for example, they usually have at least one supportive friend who they can lean on). This means they literally brace themselves for impact, and also help others like themselves go through the hard times.
  • Inner direction: People with high AQ tend to make decisions on their own because they believe they're in charge of their fate. They avoid the victim mindset, whilst embracing the victor mindset.
  • Sociability: They (most times) show a higher capacity to interact with others well and engage in social activities without feeling threatened or worried.
  • Autonomy: People with high AQ can accomplish tasks alone without receiving help. They will most likely try to push their limits before asking for assistance.

Thankfully AQ, just like all other forms of quotients can be gradually improved upon..


6 Ways You Can Develop Your Adversity Quotient

These are the following ways to develop your AQ:

1. Study/Practice Stoicism

Stoicism is a philosophy that has regained traction in recent times thanks to the works of authors like Ryan Holiday.

The philosophy encourages an acceptance (and even love) of one's fate (no matter what it may be). It requires that you get objective about life - rather than looking away or (worse) sugar coating its brutal nature - hiding under wishful thinking.

Once you accept life for what it is, you can better face it (because you'd get prepared).

2. Practice Self-Accountability

Accept/take responsibility for your actions, admit that you can be wrong sometimes, and when you make mistakes, learn from them. 

3. Be Focused

We are in a social media age where people are getting more and more hooked to the internet. Social media is great, but too much of it keeps you away from reality and makes you lose sight of what is real, immediate, and important.

4. Be Courageous

Learn to act despite your fear. Learn to be comfortable with uncertainties. 

5. Build Your Network

Build a network of friends that you can fall back to when things get rough and confusing. Don't lean on your strength alone.

6. Reflect on The Past and Future

Meditate on the things you've done and how they could be done better.

That way you learn from your mistakes and do better next time. Also, think about the future and all the hurdles and opportunities that it holds if you never give up and keep going. 


Working on Your Quotients

Keep this in mind: In life those who don't go crazy (especially when they suffer multiple setbacks within short intervals) are those who can accept that they are the masters of their fate (no matter what might, or had happened).

And they believe that things are bound to get better as they don’t easily lose hope even when the going gets tough.

Having said that, don't make the mistake of focusing on either IQ, EQ, or SQ alone, but realize that all quotients work together to create a well-adjusted and functioning individual - an intelligent, loving, powerful, and indomitable you!          

Photo by Alicia Mary Smith on Unsplash


8 comments on “What's Your Adversity Quotient (AQ) & How Can it Help You Handle Life's Challenges?”

    1. We're so happy you enjoyed it, Cathy! We are working on having many quizzes on the site and will update our community when they are ready!!

  1. Congratulations! This is by far the most interesting and innovative article on psychology that I ve read so far and although I know all this already as I studied the effects of feeling like a victim in the past in a long course I ve done, I love the way you laid it out clearly for people to read.

  2. Brilliant article about Quotient 1-4
    It included all without any sugar coating....
    somehow I will use this in my teaching, step by step to soften it.
    Clarity in your message, I call that power
    Many thanks

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