The following post was taken from a great book entitled Adversity Quotient by Dr. Paul G. Stoltz, published by John Wiley & Sons, copyright 1997.

Do you ever wonder why some organizations thrive on competition and others are crushed?   Why one entrepreneur beats unfathomable odds, while others completely give up?  Why do some parents raise children who are good citizens in neighborhoods riddled with violence and drugs?  Why does an individual beat the odds, overcoming an abusive childhood when others, maybe most, do not?    Why does an inner-city teacher positively impact student lives, while the rest of the faculty barely gets by?  Why do so many gifted or high IQ individuals fall far short of their potential?    It appears those who really excel and accomplish their goals do so because they have a great work ethic, they persevere—never give up, and  they apply their talents and FOCUS relative to the work at hand.  In short, they know how to overcome adversity when adversity occurs.

There are several, (twenty-two to be exact,) areas that can completely stifle creativity on an individual or company basis.  Things that really throw a monkey-wrench in the works and derail efforts; sometimes so much that eventual failure occurs.  If you own a company, if you are a CEO or manage a department within a company, you can really inhibit the productivity of your workforce by doing the following:  Let’s take a look.

  • Always promise more than you can deliver
  • Be consistently inconsistent
  • Remember—there is always a downside to everything
  • Model victimhood
  • Give lip service to accountability and responsibility
  • Ignore any potential contribution to the teams’ success
  •   Help your team see setbacks for what they are—major failures
  • Frame success as a freak accident
  •  Torpedo humor at all costs
  • Sap their strength
  • Crush creativity
  • Punish all attempts at independence, swiftly and severely
  • Dismantle any hope or optimism
  • Surround yourself with quitters instead of doers
  • Set your team up for failure
  • Reward them for playing by the rules
  • Construct a rigid, stark, colorless environment
  • Uproot enthusiasm before it can grow
  • Press everyone to create a mission and vision, then forget about it
  • Provide responsibility without authority
  • Use “empowerment” as a weapon  to get them to do more with less

Let’s be honest, on an individual basis, we all at times, talk ourselves into some of the road blocks given above. It’s really human nature to bring about doubts when jobs and problems seem insurmountable.   One of my favorite sayings was uttered by George Bernard Shaw in his play “Back to Methuselah.  “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?‘    But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”  I think the bottom line is:


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