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The Adversity Paradox
Author: J. Barry Griswell & Bob Jennings
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: Mick Yates
Summary:Adversity is not an absolute requirement for building business savvy-ness or for being successful. But it has provided an invaluable crucible of learning.
ISBN 978 0 312 38555 2
A foundational insight behind this book is that, if you compare two people with similar backgrounds and work experience, the people who have demonstrated the ability to overcome adversity do the best. The authors interviewed and studied hundreds of business leaders. They concluded that successful people found that the knowledge and experience that they gained from overcoming adversity played such a crucial role in their success trajectories, that they now consider adversity “a friend”.
As the authors write:
“Adversity is not an absolute requirement for building business savvy-ness or for being successful. But it has provided an invaluable crucible of learning for the business leaders featured in The Adversity Paradox.”
The authors drive a connection between adversity, human capital and business savvy-ness. They state that this savvy-ness is not something you are necessarily born with, but it is something you develop, and adversity can help. Faced with adversity, some people just get paralyzed, and, to quote the book, “wallow in it”. But others think it through (introspection) and then apply the “and then some” principle – meaning work even harder to get a result. Key to this is what Griswell and Johnson call the “Individual Human Capital Profile” of business-savvy people. This is built on:
The power of introspection
The importance of values-driven actions
The embrace of hard work
Clear and unrelenting purpose and passion for the job in hand
A thirst for knowledge
“As Griswell and Jennings point out, there really is no substitute for hard work. We have to build endurance of character the same way we build endurance of speed or strength, and it always pays off.” Wayne Gretzky
I found this an useful and thought provoking book, offering a fresh look at the impact of difficulties and challenge in both one’s personal development and the generation of business results. The book would, in my view, benefit from some clearer guideposts in summarizing the lessons as the framework reveals itself - and adding more “to dos” at each step. But it is nevertheless a valuable addition to today’s leadership library.