Navigating challenges for success in work and life

In the pursuit of personal and professional growth, individuals encounter numerous obstacles that test their resilience and determination. Adversity is an inevitable part of life, and how we respond to it can greatly influence our achievements and well-being. Understanding and harnessing one’s Adversity Quotient (AQ) have gained significant attention in recent years.

AQ refers to an individual’s capacity to face and overcome adversity effectively. It goes beyond the traditional measures of intelligence or emotional intelligence, focusing specifically on one’s ability to persevere in challenging circumstances. It encompasses a range of qualities, including resilience, adaptability, problem-solving skills, emotional stability and a growth mindset. This is why it is important to develop and practice AQ at work and in life.


At work, AQ results in resilient performance since adversity is an inherent part of the professional landscape. Those with high AQs are better equipped to handle setbacks, pressure and unexpected changes in the workplace. They display perseverance and maintain focus on their goals despite adversities, allowing them to perform consistently and efficiently. Many situations arise in the workplace that call for AQ and are almost relatable by employees irrespective of the group they belong to. If you are in sales, you may be close to winning a deal and end up losing to another bidder, how will you address this? You have committed the numbers, but it seems that your customer is bent on awarding this to somebody else. What will you do?

If you are in project management, your project is running smoothly with manageable challenges, until one day when one minor delay causes a domino effect in your timelines, causing tremendous impact overall. How will you manage this?


Understanding adversity and adversity quotient helps in developing resilient individuals. Knowing this leads to problem-solving and adaptability at work. High AQ individuals possess strong problem-solving skills and are adaptable to changing environments. They view challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation. In a dynamic work environment, their ability to think creatively and adjust quickly becomes a valuable asset, enabling them to navigate complex problems and seize emerging opportunities.

Since adversity often arises within teams or organizations, leaders with high AQs inspire and motivate their members during difficult times, fostering a resilient and cohesive work culture. Their ability to remain composed and make sound decisions in the face of adversity inspires confidence and encourages others to persevere as well. This could be a familiar scenario to many of us, where, for example, working in silos continuously poses a challenge, and where having a high adversity quotient is much needed.


Adversity quotient is likewise important in life, in general, as life is full of challenges, such as relationships, health issues or financial setbacks. Individuals with a high AQ exhibit emotional stability and bounce back from setbacks more effectively. They possess a positive mindset, which enables them to maintain emotional well-being and find meaning even in the face of adversity.

Life’s adversity is a catalyst for personal growth. High AQ individuals view obstacles as opportunities to learn, develop new skills and gain valuable experiences. They embrace failures as stepping stones to success, fostering a mindset that thrives on continuous improvement and self-reflection. Moreover, experiencing adversity can bring people closer together, strengthening bonds and fostering empathy. They are more adept at building supportive relationships and seeking assistance when needed. They exhibit resilience in relationships, effectively handling conflicts and maintaining positive connections with others.


This is the reason why we need to develop and enhance our AQ through conscious effort and self-reflection. One strategy to develop AQ includes cultivating a growth mindset. This means embracing challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, and adopting a positive outlook and believing in your ability to overcome obstacles.

Other strategies include building resilience, where we need to engage in activities that promote resilience, such as regular exercise, mindfulness and developing a strong support network. Seek out challenging experiences and learn from setbacks to develop resilience. Aside from this, continuous learning will also enhance AQ by acquiring new knowledge, skills and experiences. Embrace a lifelong learning mindset to enhance problem-solving abilities and adaptability.

Lastly, by embracing change, we actively seek out new experiences and embrace change rather than resisting it. Develop a flexible mindset that can adapt to different circumstances. HR practitioners can work on creating programs that support these strategies in order to contribute to their employees’ AQ as part of intervention programs.


AQ plays a crucial role in shaping an individual’s success and well-being in both work and life. When you find yourself in a situation that calls for high AQ, ask yourself: are you still standing or standing still?

Kay Calpo Lugtu is the chief operating officer of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation firm. Her advocacies include food innovation, nation-building and sustainability. The author may be reached at