The Adversity Advantage

The Adversity Advantage

Turning everyday struggles into everyday greatness(2006,2010)
By Paul G.Stoltz and Erik Weihenmayer

This book talks about Erik, a blind person who had climbed the highest peak on the seven continents of the world! Wow, just based on this accomplishment alone will put most normal people to shame. He inspires us with his example.

If you are avoiding adversity, you will need to get out of denial before you can begin assessing your adversities.
If you are surviving adversity, you are not in a position – yet- to start sorting through the lesser adversities in your life. If you are coping with adversity, you may get stuck at that level.

The book talks about ways to harness adversity, where you can release the good that is hidden inside a problem or setback. Here are the steps mentioned :

Step 1. Categorize your life

Across the top of a page, list all the categories of life that matter to you, including family, work, friends, community, health, hobbies, and so on.

Step 2. Declare your aspirations

List your top 2 or 3 aspirations for each category of your life. These are things you have not yet accomplished, but which you aspire to achieve, short or long term.


Step 3. Prioritize your Pain

Thoughtfully consider and then list the top 2-3 adversities that are causing you the most pain or discomfort within each category.


Step 4 : Sort you adversities

See the adversities you list in Step 3 and pick one from each category that, if you took it on, would unleash the greatest amount of energy in your life. Being bigger, tougher and deeper, these adversities carry more force.


Step 5 : Pinpoint your summit challenge

Let’s rise above your various aspirations to your overarching Summit Challenge. Select from your list of aspirations your Summit Challenge; the one most compelling thing you’ve always wanted to do, but have not yet done (or completed). You will want to make sure your SUmmit Challenge is stated in such a way that :
– Excites, maybe even frightens you.
– Enriches you deeply.
– Inspires your strongest will.
– Connects to your highest “why”
– Improves you – makes you better.
– Benefits others (ultimately) in some meaningful way, if successful.
– Builds  capacity – demonstrates and strengthens your capacity for future challenges.
– Fuels greatness – demonstrates and strengthens your everyday greatness.


Step 6 : Select your summit adversity.

Select the one adversity that you are sure to face as you take on your summit challenge, and if harnessed, would offer the greatest potential energy or breakthrough.


Step 7 : Clear the trail

All that blocks your way is excuses and rationalizations. You must come to grips with the thoughts that prevent you from taking action. Excuses sometimes get a bad rap. We tend to label people who make excuses as weak or evasive. To take it on the job, you must unleash the fuel embedded in your summit adversity, hence you must give serious thoughts to clear the trail.

When you suffer genuine physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual pain, who could ever blame you for checking out, being miserable, and making everyone else miserable in the process? Unfortunately, suffering can be the ultimate excuse to stop trying. Bad suffering occurs when the experience makes us less, rather than more, and when we bring others down, rather than elevate them. When we become meaner, smaller, or more selfish as a result of our pain, that is bad suffering, even if it is understandable. If we hurt ourselves, or hurt others because we hurt, we are suffering poorly.

“You can run, but you can’t hide” is the warning label that should accompany all suffering. Suffering is like a heat-seeking missile. No matter how far you run, or how creatively you hide, suffering and its lessons will somehow find you.

Sometimes, businesses try to hide their fatal flaws in more and more growth, but the truth always catches up. For example, one business had significant flaws in its new”flagship technology”, but instead of fixing it, they sold it aggressively and let the nightmares rain down on tech support. Once the bubble bursts, the blame game begins, and the responsibility for the disaster is tossed around like a hot potato.

It is normal to try to escape hardship. But it is more powerful and courageous to enter the storm, embrace the challenge and harness its cleansing force. Sometimes, we have to let adversity sandblast our souls. Rather than trying to escape adversity, or trying to shield yourself from blame, live your life on a grand scale and takes what it comes.

Pretending takes denial one step further. Whitewashing is the handmaiden of pretending. Pretending and whitewashing create barriers between us and other people. When we pretend everything is great, we deny others the lessons and experience our sufferings can offer them. When others whitewash our suffering, they withhold their connection from us and deny us the opportunity to suffer well with them. Suffering well is incompatible with any form of deception, however harmless it is intended to be.


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