Dr. Robert Head wants people — especially young people — to know success is attainable even amidst disadvantage.
A lifetime in the making, Head’s new book, “Playing From Behind,” imparts insights gained from the local author’s life experiences and what he learned along the way.
“I thought that I would, in my retirement years, document those lessons for others who might find themselves with either real or perceived disadvantages and provide for them — let’s just call it a bridge,” he said — a bridge, he explained, “from the dreams that they might imagine to the dreams that they might fulfill.”
Part memoir, part motivational book, part self-help guide, “Playing From Behind” demonstrates how even limitations imposed by either society or self can be turned to advantage and aid the reader in realizing prosperity.
Head knows whereof he speaks. Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, during the Civil Rights Era, he experienced racism firsthand, just as many still do today. But he didn’t let that or difficult financial realities stand in the way of realizing his goal: to become the first in his family to attend college.
He went on to earn his doctorate, secure a successful career in the banking industry and then serve two universities as president.
“One of the things that is shared in the book is that the American dream is attainable to those who are able to navigate the nuances of our society and work hard and are committed to their own personal success,” he said.
The book’s title was suggested by a friend after Head described his concept for the work. It reflects the central theme, which is based on a study finding that 60% of college basketball teams trailing at halftime came back to win the game.
“So, what is it about being behind early that motivates you to perform better after that?” Head asked rhetorically. “A part of it is, it does just create some higher-level motivation. Many of us have a complete fear of failure. That kicks into a higher gear for us to perform, as well.”
In fact, he titled one of his chapters “Playing From Behind Can be an Advantage.”
Head retired in 2016 and began writing his book two years later. It was published in March. From the start, it was clear the book would have a wider appeal than readers seeking a path to success.
Teachers, counselors and ministers are finding it useful in their work. A company in Ohio is using the book to talk about diversity with its management team and seeking ways to motivate the diverse staff. A corporate board is using it to address challenges in serving diverse populations.
That’s probably because Head devotes some passages to improving leadership and understanding one another.
He hopes to hold some book signings in areas where he has lived once the COVID-19 situation subsides and businesses open up more.
“Playing From Behind” is available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. Anyone wanting a personalized copy can contact Head by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.