The Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles into Everyday Greatness

The Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles into Everyday Greatness

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The Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles into Everyday Greatness by Erik Weihenmayer, Paul Stoltz

From the world’s foremost blind athlete and a Harvard Business School lecturer comes an inspiring, seven-step program for converting both mundane and dramatic struggles into the kind of fuel that spur personal and professional greatness.

Adversity is one of the most potent forces in life. It shapes your character, clarifies your priorities, and defines your path. It can also fuel your greatness. Each of us faces a rich assortment of adversities every day, ranging from minor hassles to major setbacks and challenges, even tragedies. Nobody knows this better than blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer and adversity expert Dr. Paul Stolz. In this exciting new edition of The Adversity Advantage, this dream-team joined forces to offer incredible experiences and practical science to teach you how to turn life challenges into a powerful advantage. Weihenmayer, who is the only blind person to climb Mount Everest and the Seven Summits, shares his struggles on high mountains to turn adversity on its head and do the impossible. Coauthor Stoltz has spent decades decoding the human relationship with adversity and is the creator of the globally acclaimed Adversity Quotient.

Fully revised and updated, this new edition of The Adversity Advantage offers lessons from real-life adventure, seemingly insurmountable challenges, and extensive research to help you achieve greatness. This unique book provides an exciting and insightful framework for surpassing obstacles and reaching higher goals. Its seven proven principles will help you harness the adversity in your life and turn it into agility, innovation, energy, and happiness:

· Take it on!
· Summon your strength
· Engage your core
· Pioneer possibilities
· Pack light, pack right
· Suffer well
· Deliver greatness, every day

Let The Adversity Advantage inspire you to overcome obstacles, no matter how daunting!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451687095
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 02/21/2012
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 1,122,731
File size: 13 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Erik Weihenmayer is the world's leading blind athlete and the only blind person in history to reach the Seven Summits, including Everest. Erik inspires millions of people each year through his climbing expeditions, nonprofit outreach, and keynote presentations. He is author of Touch the Top of the World, which was made into a TV movie, and subject of the award-winning documentary Farther Than the Eye Can See. Erik has been featured on the cover of Time and lives with his family in Golden, Colorado.
Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D., founded and has been the CEO of PEAK Learning since 1987, a global research and consulting firm, and the director of the Global Resilience Project, working with top leaders and organizations worldwide. The originator of the globally acclaimed AQ (Adversity Quotient) method and author of the international bestsellers The Adversity Quotient and Adversity Quotient at Work, he resides with his family in San Luis Obispo, California.
Recognized as one of Time magazine’s twenty-five most influential Americans, Stephen R. Covey (1932–2012) was an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant, and author. His books have sold more than twenty-five million copies in thirty-eight languages, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century. After receiving an MBA from Harvard and a doctorate degree from Brigham Young University, he became the cofounder and vice chairman of FranklinCovey, a leading global training firm.

Read an Excerpt


What if, as a result of completing this book, you could use any, and I mean any, adversity to your advantage? What if you could convert your everyday struggles, big and small, into the kind of fuel that powers you past everyday normality to everyday greatness?

Isn't there something incredibly riveting about the human struggle with adversity? Not only is it the central strand of our story, shared across eras and cultures, but we also read about it in all the great books, are spellbound by it in popular movies, and wrestle with it in our own lives every day. Why adversity?

Maybe it's because within that struggle lies the essential wisdom we all need to become the kind of person we hope to be, or to nurture the kind of team or organization we envision. In fact, after spending the past few years working on this book, I'm convinced that adversity holds the key to achieving everyday greatness in life, business, and society.

We don't have to go looking for adversity. It tends to find us. During the summer between eighth and ninth grades, I began losing the last traces of my sight. I could no longer see enough to walk around by myself, so my brothers and parents had to lead me. I'd reach out for their shirtsleeves with the terror of a small child being left behind in a department store. I hated what was happening because it represented utter helplessness. Everything I knew was ending. The loss was like a storm descending on me with such force, such viciousness, that I thought I'd be crushed by it.

Late that fall, I was watching a TV show called That's Incredible. I could still see a little out of one eye, though I had to crane forward to just a few inches away from the set. Being featured that night was an athlete named Terry Fox. Terry had lost a leg to cancer, and when not yet discharged from the hospital, made a decision to run across Canada from east to west. With my nose pressed up against the screen and with tears pouring down my face, I watched Terry run. The miles took a tremendous toll on his amputated leg and its primitive prosthetic. He hobbled along mile after mile, fighting the pain of blisters and raw skin, often using a pair of crutches to propel his body forward.

What struck me most was the look on his face. It was a look of extreme contradiction: full of exhaustion yet radiant with exaltation. In his thin face was the trace flicker of an intense internal light that burned power into his struggling frame. The image filled my sagging spirit and gave me a feeling of utter courage. Many would have retreated from such hardship, but -- surprisingly -- Terry faced it head-on and literally ran into its midst. It was while staring into Terry's face that I first wondered how we could harness that great storm of adversity swirling around us and use its power to make ourselves stronger and better.

Although I was inspired by Terry, I learned early on that inspiration is not enough. If a person embarks on a mountain expedition unprepared and unequipped, the fierce wind, the frigid cold, the steep and technical terrain will do him in every time. Likewise, in order to consistently convert everyday adversity, big and small, into genuine advantage in our lives and enterprises we need some powerful and proven tools. And no one is better qualified to teach us about those tools than the guy I teamed up with to write this book, Dr. Paul Stoltz.

Paul is perhaps best-known for his Adversity Quotient, or AQ, theory, which has become the most widely adopted method in the world for measuring and strengthening our capacity to deal with adversity. Decoding the human relationship with adversity has been and continues to be Paul's lifework.

It was through Paul's groundbreaking research that we met. His focus on people who harness life's tough stuff led him to launch the Global Resilience Project, an effort now involving studies in twenty-one countries. His quest was to gain a better understanding of those rare people, like Terry, who don't just deal well with adversity but learn to convert it into fuel, to achieve everyday greatness.

You might remember, from your history textbooks, those medieval alchemists who toiled mysteriously to turn lead into gold. I call the people like Terry, the people Paul has highlighted in his research, modern-day alchemists. I believe that inside each of us is something I can only describe as a light, which has the capacity to feed on adversity, to consume it like fuel. When we tap into that light, every frustration, every setback, every obstacle becomes a source to power our lives forward. The greater the challenge, the brighter the light burns. Through it, we become more focused, more creative, and more driven, and can even learn to transcend our own perceived limitations to bring our lives more meaning.

All of us can be alchemists, taking the lead that life piles on top of us and finding ways to transform it into gold. I strive to be an alchemist every day. I climbed the Seven Summits -- the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents -- not only because I love to climb but also to shatter people's perceptions of what's possible. And somewhere along the way, I learned more about the advantages of adversity than I ever imagined I would.

There is something inherently compelling about an ascent. I believe that deep inside us, we all strive to move forward and up, to scale new heights. Paul and I have, therefore, organized this book into Seven Summits, based on seven guiding principles that will help you use adversities to your advantage, as a way to infuse some practical greatness into your daily life. I begin each Summit -- each chapter -- with a story from one of the seven actual summits that I climbed. In between, Paul draws from my lessons and his worldwide research to teach you how you can generate power from your everyday struggles, elevating you and everyone you touch.

By "everyone," Erik and I hope you include the people you interact with through your work, your community, your family, and more. This is because the ripple effect -- both positive and negative -- of how you relate to adversity extends out to all whom you influence, including many who are unaware of your impact. That's the potential power of The Adversity Advantage, and it's why Erik and I love the word elevate. To elevate means to "raise to a higher level or position," or to "raise one's mind or spirit to a more enlightened or exalted level." And when you really come down to it, isn't that what you want to do with your life, what every parent hopes to do for a child, what every leader ultimately wants to do for his or her organization?

You might be thinking that any sensible person seeks less adversity, not more. Right? Here's the problem. While you can certainly have an enjoyable life, you cannot reach beyond pleasure to even the most basic level of greatness without a healthy dose of the very thing most people seek to diminish. Why? Because adversity alone has the unique power to inspire exceptional clarity, purge any vestiges of lethargy, refocus your priorities, hone your character, and unleash your most potent forces. Even minor setbacks provide fertile soil for elevating behavior. If you eliminate adversity, you miss out on life's deepest riches, highest gifts, and most potent lessons. The more adversity you escape, the less you become.

In my first books introducing the Adversity Quotient (AQ), I talk in depth about Quitters, Campers, and Climbers -- the three categories of response to the daunting challenge of leading an ever-elevating life. Quitters simply give up on the ascent -- the pursuit of an enriching life -- and as a result are often embittered. Campers generally work hard, apply themselves, pay their dues, and do what it takes to reach a certain level. Then they plant their tent stakes and settle for their current elevation. Climbers are the rare breed who continue to learn, grow, strive, and improve until their final breath, who look back on life and say these precious words: "I gave it my all." It's no coincidence that Climbers are the people we most admire, are drawn to, and seek to become. One of the major discoveries of my research is that at the heart of the difference between Climbers and Campers or Quitters lies what they do with adversity.

Relentlessly pursuing a life or building an organization rich in purpose can be tough. The weather on the mountain is rough -- and intensifying. That's why Quitters abandon the ascent and Campers hunker down. Only Climbers take on the immensely gratifying challenge of learning, striving, improving, and contributing until their final breath.

According to our poll of more than 150,000 leaders across all industries worldwide, many people quit (5 to 20 percent), most camp (65 to 90 percent), and a rare few climb. In fact, when leaders are asked, "What percentage of your workforce is camping?" the most common response is "80 percent."

This is a tragic loss of potential, at a time when camping is increasingly costly, and the benefits of climbing are particularly rich. But my previous books stopped short of explaining something powerfully distinct about Climbers. I have discovered that the people with the highest AQs don't simply respond more effectively to adversity. Whether they are driving a new business model, forging an exceptional team, or simply finding ways to accelerate their own development, they use adversity. And in this process, they unleash tremendous energy and innovation, and gain momentum. This book will teach you how to use your adversities to unleash your personal best.

We learn from those who shatter our notions of what's possible. The extremes of the space program created countless practical products for everyday use back on earth; and in just the same way, through extreme examples of what people can do with adversity we learn practical ways to dramatically improve what we do with our own.

My research led me to Erik Weihenmayer because he is a Climber in the truest sense of the word. He attacks life as he attacks a rock face -- with a relentless determination to elevate himself and everyone around him, whether through his stirring narratives as a keynote speaker, his groundbreaking and highly visible adventures, or his outreach to marginalized people throughout the world. Climbers strive to improve themselves and their worlds. With regard to anything that matters, phrases like almost, at least we tried, or there's no way are outside Erik's vocabulary. The words that are true to his character are more, better, smarter, faster, richer, and higher. Such words define him, pouring out like warm breath on an icy morning.

In short, Erik is the living embodiment of every lesson offered in this book. And, while we will provide many everyday examples, Erik is the true exemplar of The Adversity Advantage. In this book, I will help decode Erik's emotional DNA so that you can infuse his inner tenacity and greatness into your own life. Erik will provide you with his best terrain-tested wisdom and insights, using spellbinding stories to help you fundamentally rethink and retool your relationship with adversity.

The good news is that after teaching people about the power of adversity in business and in life for the past twenty-two years, I know that everyone can learn the practical tools for harnessing adversity as a vital life force. The new principles and practices offered in this book are crafted not for superheroes or impossible extremes. They are devised for us normal folks, for you and for me, so that we can begin to achieve everyday greatness in our own day-to-day lives.

In Summit One -- Take It On! -- we will define in a simple, practical way the adversities you face. You will learn how you, those around you, and even your organization can take it on -- get past the frustration, helplessness, anger, and even acceptance of adversity and reach the point where you can embrace and benefit from its force. You'll learn why you are better equipped for the big adversities than you are for the everyday onslaught of energy-draining annoyances, hassles, difficulties, and challenges. You will begin to get a sense of how adversity can be both the ultimate competitive weapon for a business and the ultimate fuel for a life. You will learn where you currently reside on the Adversity Continuum -- the ultimate gauge of your relationship with life's tough stuff -- so you can begin your journey to higher, more elevating levels. You will complete your own Adversity Inventory, and emerge with a clearly defined Summit Challenge.

Summit Two -- Summon Your Strengths -- challenges the conventional wisdom that natural strengths are the driving force of success. This chapter will help you decide what you want to do, why you want to do it, and what strengths you need to tap, grow, and gain from others to achieve your Summit Challenge. You will develop your Adversity Strengths through the powerful combination of courage, discipline, tenacity, and desire. You will break through your notions of what you and others can or should attempt to do. You will rethink how you team up with others in business and in life.

In Summit Three -- Engage Your CORE -- you'll learn how to handle every adversity better and faster. You will gain vital insight into your lens on life, as well as the foundations of AQ and the four CORE dimensions that determine how people respond to adversity. You will learn how the greatest organizations and leaders in the world engage their CORE. And you will devise your own personal CORE Strategy for moving forward along the Adversity Continuum to begin turning specific adversities into real advantage.

In Summit Four -- Pioneer Possibilities -- you will learn how to devise signature systems for making the impossible possible. You will create strategies that others simply fail to see. Learn how you and your organization can gain tremendous traction and momentum through the force of adversity. You will rethink how you approach limitations, as well as expand your perception of what's possible. You will learn to apply "possibility pioneering" tools to shift from "what now?" to "what if?"

As you climb higher to Summit Five -- Pack Light, Pack Right -- you will learn from Erik's vivid world of climbing how packing poorly will cripple you but how carefully choosing the right things, people, obligations, and pursuits will strengthen you. The more weighed down you are, or your organization is, the less agile and effective you are when attacking adversity. Kill agility, and you suffocate alchemy. In this chapter you will gain the clarity to spring-clean your life so you can rise up, rather than crumble under the weight of each new adversity.

No matter how fortunate you may be, you will eventually be given the opportunity to suffer. So the question is whether you will suffer poorly or well. This is the subject of Summit Six -- Suffer Well. Adversity alchemists have the amazing capacity to suffer well -- to elevate those around them through their own losses and hardships. They turn pain into beauty. Suffering can be tragic, debilitating, and stultifying, or it can be high-octane fuel for accelerated alchemy. Potent reactions usually involve heat. That's why character is forged in the flames of adversity. Done right, suffering can fuel greatness.

Summit Seven -- Deliver Greatness, Every Day -- is the culmination of the preceding six summits. It brings together the most important ideas from the entire book, providing a coherent, portable package of practices you can take with you and apply anywhere, anytime, so that you can rise to the very top of the Adversity Continuum. You will depart with your own Adversity Advantage Climbing Route, able to perform your own alchemy. Life's lead becomes gold, darkness becomes light, and normality turns into greatness. And you will emerge poised, if not anxious, for the advantage you will gain from each new adversity.


Erik and I have chosen the mountain as our metaphor, not to represent a testosterone-induced, tackle-the-summit athletic feat, but as a universal symbol of inspiration and aspiration. People share a drive to ascend -- to move forward and up in our lives; to gain, rather than lose, elevation. Don't worry. You certainly don't have to be a climber or an athlete to relate to all this. While Erik's stories from the world's top peaks may sound impossibly daunting, the lessons within those stories link quite practically to the more normal, often involuntary challenges and hardships we all face in the course of our various endeavors.

To be blunt, adversity is utterly heartless. It could not care less whether we succeed or fail. It doesn't care about our human definition of fairness or justice, and it would just as soon crush us as propel us through its gauntlet. Like a gale-force wind, it can do serious damage. Or, if harnessed, it can take you farther than you could otherwise go. The exciting news is that no matter how mundane or irritating your hassles may be, they can be used for dramatic gains. And it all begins with the first Summit, when you turn into the storm and take it on!

Copyright ©2006 by Paul G. Stoltz and Erik Weihenmayer

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The Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles into Everyday Greatness 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must buy! This book should be required reading for everyone in this time period. Very well written book! This book was a pleasent surprise, very well researched, crafted, entertaining. Received as a Christmas gift, I love reading it! Very good book. A must buy--read!!!!
Danaapple More than 1 year ago
Blind mind able to climb all of Earth's larget mountain peaks. Overcome adversity, achieve your life potential, inspire, those are the words to describe this book. Uplifting. Concept of there being QCC: Quitters (those that just give up, do not try), Campers (those that remain comfortable at their current media), and Climbers (those that give it all in life, follow the right plans, so forth). Learned a lot about GOAL ACHIEVMENT in this book.
BRISEA More than 1 year ago
This book is about how to turn any bit of misery into success: physical, economical, spiritual, mental, emotional, adversity, misery, depression, mind, body, spirit, marrige, friendship. Want to build a strong foundation for success in your life? This book will give you the information needed to be highly productive in all facets of your existence., You learn main points to apply into your daily existence that will life you up to successful heights, both authors are very good at enlightening the reader with valuable information. Elevate yourself to total improvement by applying the principles taught in this book, money well spent, these authors are my heroes. Five stars.
NorthwestAmerica More than 1 year ago
Paul Soltz (author) and Erik Weihenmayer (author), take turns writing a fanastic book on how to achieve in life despite facing adverity. Erk Eihenmayer is the world's most respected (disabled he is lind) outdoor athlete -- he outlines very goo information while telling how he achieved impossible feats (for people with ful vision). He hikes worlds tales mountains, participates in Priamal Quest (earth's most challenging multi sport mrathon), he is an adventure athletie to the maxium. Very good examples about how to achieve despite facig adversty. Paul Stoltz rotates back an forth from Eirk writing. Paul Stoltz provide examples in the businss world, provids historical stories, clear cut examples on how to acheve in business world, ike Erik talks about achieng despite adversity in outdoor athlete world. Very good book, veryeasy to read, life is much easeir for me afterI read this book ad applie the wisdom, principles. Exceptional, very good nonfction book, two authors rotate bewen chapters providing vaulable wisoown on goal achievemnet, in both the business realm and/or athletic achievement.
SandyandSandy More than 1 year ago
Brand new way to oultine one's goals and/or achieve in any area of your life. I thougth it was good, very good pictures, good writing, the book is very uplifting --motivating. One of the best self-help book, I have had the pleasure of reading.
somewhereintime1 More than 1 year ago
The Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles Into Everyday Greatness by Erik Weihenmayer (author), Paul Stoltz (author) is a wonderful book. Erik Weihenmayer is a blind outdoor athlete, businessman, father, husband, who became blind at age 13, and decided to turn this so-called disadvantage-adversity into a success-positive. He hike Mt. Everest, all 8 of the highest mountain peaks on planet earth (mt. Kilomanjor in Africa, so forth). He rotates with the other author Paul Stoltz in providing key insight into how successful people turn so called disadvantages-obstacles-adversity into positives-success-winning. The visual images provided in each chapter are absolutely gorgeous, remarkable, inspiring. Paul Stoltz talks more about success in business, Erk then focues more on his mountain peak summit achievements, the book was overall an A+, a AAA book.
CraigGrand More than 1 year ago
Things that western society labels adversity are an illusion. This is what you will come to realize after reading this fine book, written by two authors. Adversity, obstacles, disadvantages, misery, depression, these qualities can actually be spun into success after reading this book you will learn how. Both authors, provide tools from experiences in their own lives about how to spin negatives into positives. Very much believe the content in this book was great medicine for the imnd, body, spirit. My life experieince was moved to a higher level of being after applying the tools, information provided in this book. Great for those that are open to new wisdom, a fresh approach. Could have been a little longer, short and/or sweet 220 pages with pictures..
briannnnn More than 1 year ago
Superb book, very well written! Motivational nonfiction book! Erik Weihenmayer (author) became blind at age 13, he decided to use his adversity (blindness) to his advantage and/or accomplish some of the most difficult - incredibly diffcult feats on Earth. He hiked up to the top of Earth's largest mountains, skier, rock climber, successful in all areas of his life. This book shows the read how to achieve any goal, dream, target in life -- despite facing a challenge. It was very uplifting book, this author will provide you with concrete examples, tools, principles in how to achieve success in any area of your life. Perhaps, the most motivating, uplifting, successful book in goal achievement I have ever read. This author, motivated me to instant action, changed my life for the better
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overcome anything after reading this book, this book is about never giving up, ovrecoming any adversity, very nicely written, it was a fun book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great story about a blind man who is the only person in history to climb the tallest peak on every continent.
REDFOXEAST More than 1 year ago
GOLD This book is like reading a map to how to succeed in any area of your life. Very good book. I found the outline and/or content to be very easy to understand. Able to implement the information in this book into my everday life. Five star book
UCONNWOMEN More than 1 year ago
Photographs inside book pay for the book itself, they are awesome! Very uplifting tale about how to overcome adversity in life and become successful! Learn how to spin mud into pearls with this book! An all-time classic motivational book, superb book.
Curtislight More than 1 year ago
The book pays for itself with the pictures, photographs it includes! The images inspire you to action. The information packed within the pages is a further plus, added bonus. Great information, awe inspiring photo images. World champion of all true life -- success --- uplifting --- positive psychology book.
EddieGreen More than 1 year ago
Contract between two authors, one focues more on his success in outdoor conquests (hiking to peak of Mt. Everest while blind), while the other author focues more on business principles, successful tools by both authors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Superb book. Excellent chapter after chapter. Insightful, learned a lot. Highly recommend.
dietcok More than 1 year ago
Super achievers vs failures, what is the difference in between. This book answers that question. Ego that is substanied vs Ego with not background, what is the difference, this book answers that question. Brand new perspective at how to achieve in life, would like to see this book made into a movie.
nycityeast More than 1 year ago
Lifetime of the most efficient collected wisdom, packed into 220 pages. Superb.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every page inside this book is worth the time, effort for the reader. Very well written, great flow, insightful on the topic of succeeding in life.
ARTLIST More than 1 year ago
Funny how well this book can apply to everday life in this moder society, put together many wonderful pieces to present a picture on succeeding in life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is composed by two separate authors, they worked hard to present the reader with a quality product-book, I liked this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Phenomenal! Lightning in a bottle in terms of motivating one's soul!
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