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Expanding Your Capacity
In an age when we face an average of twenty-three adversities a day, most of us are ill-equipped to manage, let alone thrive, amid such unprecedented demands.
Before 7 A.M. you may be sipping your morning coffee and scanning the morning paper only to discover some megaconglomerate is interested in buying or merging with your company. Another story reports that children now spend forty-seven hours per week in front of some form of uncensored media, and you think about the implications for your own son and daughter.
Despite your best efforts to outwit traffic, getting anywhere is a hassle. What will it be today? Perhaps the parking lot is full, or your flight is delayed, and you miss a connection. When you arrive at work, you are met with fifty-one E-mail and twenty-three voice-mail messages. Another eighty-two messages will bombard you by the end of the day. There is no way to answer them all. You sift through the junk and, although several messages are important, you are able to respond curtly to only a few before you dash to the morning meeting. The meeting runs long, and tensions are high; people jump in and out of the discussion to respond to the constant cacophony of beepers and cell phones. On the way back to your desk you are handed the latest financials for your department and make a mental note to peruse them before tomorrow's budget meeting, asking yourself, "Yes, but when?"
At your desk, you whip open your organizer and seethat fifteen items have increased to nineteen, seven of which you'll complete today, barring any unforeseen events, but there are always unforeseen events! As you prioritize, your son's school nurse calls; he has a fever. You can't miss the client meeting scheduled for lunch, but even so, you have to.
Rumors of the reported merger or buyout color the day, and the leaders are conspicuously absent. You wonder how hard you should work on today's strategic imperative when it may now be irrelevant. At home that evening, you sit down to sift through some papers after a quick bite to eat, and you hear your son coughing. He seems to be getting worse. It's going to be another late night.
Welcome to the realities of the entrepreneurial, high-velocity New Economy. Each day demands greater speed, capacity, and capabilities. Few can keep up without taking a tremendous toll upon themselves and those around them. It takes more than strong coffee and high-speed Internet lines to meet today's demands, but what about tomorrow's? USA Today reports that in a typical day office workers send and receive 163 messages via phone, fax, E-mail, postal mail, interoffice mail, and cell phones. That number doubles every year.
In 1967 Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel, predicted that computers would double in speed and capacity every eighteen months. For more than thirty years, Moore's Law has held true. We may attribute the breakthroughs to human ingenuity, but we have created our own prison. We, the consumers, demand greater speed and capacity from our technology. The latest pocket-size Palm Pilot organizer has greater horsepower than the computer I used to write my doctoral dissertation. We consistently upgrade our computers to meet our new demands.
Of the more than 100,000 people I have polled, who represent a wide range of careers, industries, and countries, 98 percent predict a more difficult, chaotic, and uncertain future. As this impending reality unfolds, hope, innovation, aspirations, and momentum are all increasingly at risk.
If we don't upgrade our human operating systems in a similar manner, the cost will continue to be enormous. Performance, agility, resilience, problem solving, decision making, innovation, optimism, and health all will be degraded. Nowhere in our training or upbringing were we given a viable way to upgrade our operating systems so that we could tap ever-greater speed and capacity to meet ever-greater demands. Yet, upgrade we must.
Imagine running your desktop machine on a 1967 operating system. Its capacity would be severely compromised and would fall far short of what you require it to do. The same is true of the human operating system as it attempts to process an endless flow of information and to perform increasingly complex and demanding tasks. Like your computer, your human operating system drives everything else. All learning, skills, capabilities, knowledge the human software are driven by your hardwired operating system.
It is also impossible to meet today's ever-increasing demands simply by adding more software in the form of information, knowledge, and skills. The only way to meet these demands is to upgrade your operating system by optimizing your existing software and expanding your capacity for storing more software. And you must go beyond the traditional approaches and standard methods. You must upgrade your operating system by understanding and strengthening your Adversity Quotient (AQ).
Your AQ describes your hardwired pattern of response to all forms and magnitudes of adversity, from major tragedies to minor annoyances. It is about how you respond to adversity in the deepest and most automatic recesses of your brain and every cell in your body. AQ is also a theory of human performance deeply rooted in several sciences and grounded in roughly 1,500 research studies from around the world.
I began my research twenty years ago, when I first explored the patterns of success among top-performing entrepreneurs and students. I discovered that none of the standard predictors of success, such as test scores or people's backgrounds, held true, and that there appeared to be a hidden element that was determining their enduring success. Ten years ago I posited the theory of AQ: those who respond most effectively to adversity will prevail in work and in life. My team also began conducting quantitative...
Adversity Quotient At Work. Copyright © by Paul Stoltz, PhD. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.