Oprah, That Carabiner Won't Hold!

Paul Stoltz explains why anybody who isn't a climber is, well, a loser

SO YOU THINK FENDING OFF THAT GRIZZLY attack with your portable cappuccino-maker last summer on Glacier's Ptarmigan Trail means you can cope with adversity, eh? Well, unless the encounter took place atop a 14,000-foot peak, don't bet on it. At least that's the view of Paul Stoltz, 38, a motivational consultant from Flagstaff, Arizona, and author of Adversity Quotient Turning Obstacles into Opportunities - the adrenergic self-help book that, since its debut last year, has sold 65,000 copies, been translated into seven languages, received flattering treatment from the Wall Street Joumal, and this month may, if he's lucky, garner Stoltz his third appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Claiming that the most important ingredient of success is the ability to bounce back from adversity, Stoltz believes that people fall into one of three categories. At the bottom of the ladder are "Quitters," pathetic failures who "abandon the climb," choosing instead to "opt out, cop out, back out and drop out." Only slightly higher on the evolutionary heirarchy are "Campers," who go a reasonable distance but then find a smooth plateau - a "comfortable prison" - on which to hide from risk. "Their days of excitement, learning, growth and creative energy are long gone," Stoltz notes dismissively. And finally, perched haughtily at the top of the heap are "Climbers," those who continually embrace and overcome challenge in all its forms. "Only Climbers live life fully," declares Stolz. He calls them the "Energizer Bunnies of life."

Not surprisingly, Stoltz considers himself a Climber (he has scampered up a number of 5.10 pitches in Yosemite and the Tetons). He says he gravitates toward images of climbing because "the sport involves raw courage, and because it's so much about self-sufficiency." His wall-rat metaphors have made a splash with clients like Motorola and Marriott, which are attracted to the notion of ascertaining their employees' AQ, or "adversity quotient" - an index that, Stoltz emphatically believes, offers a more accurate gauge of success and performance potential than talent, age, genes, temperament, or IQ. The possibility of measuring AQ apparently holds considerable appeal for many large corporations: Forbidden by law from using IQ tests to screen job applicants, they can presumably employ the AQ test to help them identify workers with a winning attitude and weed out the weenies.

While Adversity Quotient has sparked interest from as far afield as governments in South America and the Singapore school system, its impact at home offers an indication of how deeply the extreme sports vogue has penetrated mainstream America. Indeed, Stoltz has been granted the coveted opportunity to bask in the imprimatur of pop culture's most powerful doyenne: He has been a guest on Oprah twice and harbors keen hopes of being summoned back again. If that happens, it will give him a chance to plug his next project: A sequel to Adversity Quotient that, Stoltz explains, will help readers work on raising their AQ levels "by getting even deeper into the DNA of success, and by giving people the tools so they can climb on their own without Oprah having to lead every pitch. She's a real Climber, you know."

-David Rakoff

Editorial Reviews
First there was IQ, then there was EQ. Now, there's yet another quotient to worry about--AQ. Designed especially for business owners of quickly growing companies, Adversity Quotient draws upon the sciences of psychoneuroimmunology, neurophysiology, and cognitive psychology. As scientifically based as it is, the book manages to be compellingly readable.
Author Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D., says individual AQs explain why some people, no matter what their intelligence or educational or social background, succeed where others fail. It's been used in workshops for Olympic athletes and at companies including Deloitte & Touche, Minnesota Power, and U.S. West. Defined as the measure of one's resilience and ability to persevere in the face of constant change, stress, and difficulty, AQ is touted as "the most important factor in achieving success." Stoltz also calls it an indicator of one's general ambitiousness, creativity, happiness, energy, and physical and emotional health; he therefore recommends that business executives use the book's guidelines to pinpoint top performers in the workplace.
While the book is filled with acronyms and buzzwords (LEAD, "unconscious incompetence," ARP, and CO2RE among them), the book's tests--reminiscent of Myers-Briggs questionnaires--are fun to take and easy to analyze. Stoltz has given the tests to nearly 8,000 people, so he obviously knows what he's talking about here. He offers specific advice on how to cultivate AQ in employees, and, perhaps even more useful, 22 ways to crush the AQs of your followers. (One of them, "Be consistently inconsistent," could explain many "Dilbert" strips!)
While Stoltz derives many of his ideas from psychologist Abraham Maslow, psychologist and Learned Optimism author Martin Seligman, and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People writer Stephen R. Covey, he gives credit where it's due, and he's done an outstanding job of synthesizing various classic and contemporary theories into one solidly inspirational book. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal
Proud of your IQ? It may indicate your raw intelligence, but experts say it's only a partial predictor of your future success. Recently, Daniel Goleman pointed toward emotional intelligence (Emotional Intelligence, LJ 9/1/95) as a key factor; now, organizational communication expert Stoltz writes about his theory that one's ability to thrive under adverse conditions may be the best indicator of overall success. The author presents an overview of prior research on what qualities of character and personality combine to create a successful person. There follows an explanation of the Adversity Quotient (AQ) theory and a shortened version of Stolz's AQ Profile. Detailed interpretations of AQ scores in the areas of control, ownership, reach, and endurance point to areas that are strong and those that could use improvement. Graphs and charts clearly illustrate ideas, and concepts are well organized and build logically, but the writing is stilted at times. The absence of footnotes is offset by a lengthy, detailed bibliography. Recommended for academic and public library collections.?Catherine T. Charvat, John Marshall Lib., Alexandria, Va.

Very useful book on dealing with all types of adversity, March 23, 2000
Reviewer: A reader
Anyone who thinks this book is about a "having a good attitude" or "positive thinking" hasn't read the book.
Stoltz states at the beginning, "It's more important to know how to deal with the negative than to be 'positive.'" This mirrors the I Ching, which says, "The event is not important, but the response to the event is everything." Stoltz says it's not only how we _respond_ to adversity, but how we _perceive_ adversity.
Stoltz breaks down our response to adversity into five categories -- Control (how much control do we perceive over the adverse situation?), Origin (are we to blame for the adverse situation?), Ownership (are we responsible for fixing the adverse situation?), Reach (how far will this adverse situation reach into other areas of my life?), and Endurance (how long will this adverse situation last?). He provides abundant examples (everyday and historical), hypotheticals, and even a test where we can score how we tend to respond to adversity, and improve our response.
He lists 22 helpful ways to _destroy_ the adversity of those around us (#4 -- Model victimhood. Act depressed -- it's contagious; #9 -- Frame success as a freak accident; #19 -- Uproot enthusiasm before it can grow).
Problems with the book? Sure there are. It's a bit padded, especially in the beginning. Much of the book deals with overcoming adversity in business situations. He also criticizes those who decide to "camp" on the hillside instead of always "climbing" to the top of the mountain. I feel we can have success and happiness, not to mention a family life, by "camping," just as I suspect "climber" is another word for "workaholic."
In all, it's a very worthwhile book.

This is what adversity solutions is all about!, March 6, 1999
Reviewer: A reader
Paul has cut to the chase on how one deals with adversity in a solutions-based model. I have used the Adversity Response Profile with both clients and family and they work. You have heard the saying before but AQ gives you what you need to know...in real time...in ways you improve your overall performance. Don't leave home without it! C.D. Morgan, III Founder/Chairman The Forte Institute.

Reviewer: A reader
Our society has put a too large of emphasis of success tied to IQ. While many so called geniuses never live up to their potential, millions of people so called mediocre IQ levels make significant contributions to our society. Dr Stoltz has finally articulated what it truly takes to be successful in a clear succint method that dispells many myths and enlightens many truths.
Not only have I read this book but also have tried to live it. It is truly a fantastic book. This should be required reading in our school systems.
The book teaches you how to succeed in your your own life., February 13, 1999
Reviewer: A reader
Too many people suffer from learned helplessness - they believe that nothing they do really matters and that they can't make a difference in their own lives nor in what happens to them. They give up and become quitters, or camp out and live lives of quiet desparation. By building up your Adversity Quotient, Stoltz shows that adversity doesn't have to intrude into all areas of your life; nor do you have to believe that your problems have to last forever. By increasing your AQ, you can rebound almost instantly. Everyone stumbles and falls, but now you can learn how to pick yourself up, renew your spirit, and face any problems by taking action that eliminate and prevent the same adverse situation from ever occurring again. This is a remarkably well written and useful book. It is helpful in improving the quality of every aspect of your life, including your private life, career, etc. Given today's challenges and stress levels, it should be required reading for everyone. Even big challenges and adversities - losing a job, getting a divorse, being reprimanded, etc. - will be reduced to little ones once you know how to deal with them effectively and easily. A great book!
Reviewer: A reader
Dr. Stoltz has done a fantastic job illustrating adversity and its role in one's life. There is a test that helps you in your understanding of how you deal with Adversity.

Insightful and helpful, September 21, 1998
Reviewer: A reader
I was very impressed with the helpful and easy-to-follow ideas in this book. It was very empowering to realize how much control we *do* have in our lives, even in situations that seem out of our control - because we *always* have control over our response.
One of the key points is that despite whatever AQ you have, you can improve it! Even before I'd finished the book, I was able to start putting the ideas to work. If you are one of the people who says "it won't work for me!" or "books like that are all bunk!" then you especially could benefit from this one. Go into it with an open mind, and your life could be changed for the better.
I intend to re-read this book several times, to help myself better absorb the important lessons.

Helpful and easy to read, August 20, 1998
Reviewer: A reader
I took a morning off work and read the relevant chapters of this book to re-energize myself and it worked. It helped me assess what was going on and how to handle my reaction to it better. 2 chief criticisms: there is too much time spent on why AQ is important (ostensibly, this is preaching to the choir, or why would you have purchased the book) and it would also be helpful to address how to have a high AQ specifically when dealing with people (as opposed to situations) Perhaps that will be the sequel...

Arizona Climbing and Adventure School is a unique opportunity for individuals to experience the spirit, courage and exploration of the Southwest. It is an initiation into the unexpected, a chance to accomplish something very exciting and to discover strengths you never knew you had. Additionally, the Arizona Climbing and Adventure School provides education in wilderness skills and working effectively with others.

To achieve a high learning curve among our students we keep our groups small in size. We consider the impact on the safety and flexibility of the group above all. Everyone knows that large groups and large student-to-instructor ratios are what make money for a guide service. But we feel that groups and ratios compromise the safety, enjoyment and success of individual participants. Better for you and better for us.

Having smaller groups also means you receive more attention and guidance from our professionals when you need it the most.

The skills you must learn in order to safely and ecologically negotiate the terrain, climate and altitude in which our courses are offered include:

• safety skills for travel through rigorous terrain.

• how to pack a backpack.

• physical fitness

• competence with map and compass, gps, route selection, navigation.

• rope use and knot tying, bowline, water knot, square knot, clove hitch, half hitch, figure eight

• basic first aid so that every student can handle reasonable emergencies and recognizes and aid in treating illness related to altitude, hypothermia, fatigue.

• rescue preparedness

• rock climbing, belaying, backpacking, canyoneering, rappelling, anchors.

• campcraft including minimum impact camping, ecological considerations, wilderness cooking, food selection and nutrition.

• water purification, hygiene and sanitation.

• care of equipment, ropes, clothing, packs, etc.

• environmental stewardship and Leave No Trace (LNT) techniques.

• safety from storms, flash floods and lightning.