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Book Review: Comeback: Overcoming The Setbacks In Your Life by Rick McDaniel

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Comeback: Overcoming The Setbacks In Your Life is a quick read. Only 105 pages, it shares what Rick McDaniel, the author, believes is needed for making a comeback after a loss or painful life event. Published by WestBow Press, the book is written in a conversational style but has many references to the Bible and God, which may turn away some readers.The author is a pastor in Richmond, VA and writes in a way that is not at all preachy, but definitely in a tone that conveys his belief that God has to be part of the “comeback” process.

His chapters identify what he believes is needed to move from setback to comeback which include: changing your mind (attitude); changing your heart (see things from a new perspective); restoring your confidence (not staying “stuck” in the event that caused the set back; letting go and moving forward); gaining momentum and leaving survival mode (when one “checks-out” after a setback, it’s important after reflection to “check-back-in”); and restarting your dreams again. McDaniel also talks about dropping the setback mentality in order to realize that setbacks are temporary and don’t define you as a person.

Throughout the book, McDaniel gives examples of people who have found success after loss. These passages might inspire someone who is faced with starting over after job loss, divorce or health problems. I was disappointed that every highlighted example was that of a male and most of the time the example was that of an athlete. Not once was a woman’s story highlighted to inspire.

He mentioned Robert Downey Jr., Kurt Warner, and Lance Armstrong among many others, but I had to ask why he forgot to mention any female who had made a comeback? Didn’t he know Lucille Ball was told to try another profession because she didn’t have what it takes to be a Hollywood star? Or how about Oprah Winfrey, who has shared publicly the abuse she endured in her childhood and the other challenges she has had to face to get to where she is now? She was even fired from one television job because her boss said she was “unfit for TV.” She certainly had the “come-back” mindset.

Despite the dominant male angle found in his writing, I had to buy into most of what McDaniel was saying. Although he outlines his ideas simplistically and very quickly moves from one point to the next, he does make some strong points that are worthwhile to the reader, who is most probably reading the book to become inspired.

For example, he stresses that it is important to learn lessons from our setbacks, and his quote taken from Warren Buffett on page 22 is a good one. “Setbacks teach lessons that carry you along. You learn that a temporary defeat is not a permanent one. In the end, it can be an opportunity.” I also agree with his belief that “A negative attitude will never lead to a comeback.”

He tells the story of Tom Smallwood who got laid off from General Motors two days before Christmas in 2008 and how Smallwood decided to take this setback as an opportunity to chase a childhood dream for becoming a professional bowler. He quotes Smallwood on page 38, “Getting laid off was one of the worst things that ever happened to me. But it led to the best result.” Smallwood, one year after losing his job with General Motors, competed in the PBA World Championship and won, earning him more money than he ever did in one year at his old job with GM.

My favorite chapter in the book, Chapter Six, “Mr. Comeback,” is the interview he had with Frank Reich, a former football player. One powerful quote from Reich; “When the circumstances, when the scoreboard, whether it’s life or football, seem overwhelmingly against you, the lesson I’ve learned repeatedly is one play at a time, one day at a time.”

What I took away from the book is that making a comeback is a process, and as McDaniel says throughout his writing, “Part of the process is keeping focused on where you want to get to and not giving up for any reason. Don’t allow the many distractions in life to keep you from your goal.”

If you know someone who is dealing with one of life’s setbacks, this book might make a thoughtful gift and like a coach’s pep talk to his team after a long losing streak, it will remind every player the value of getting back in the game and remaining hopeful.

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About Luanne Stevenson

Published Ghost Writer; Freelance Writer