The Undersdog Curse: Book Review

Dr. Don MacDonald, chiropractor and Spinal Research advocate, has released his first book.  Upon its release in July, The Underdog Curse reached international best-seller status, attaining top rankings in Amazon’s stress management, happiness, personal health, personal development and self-esteem categories in the US and a number of other countries. The Underdog Curse takes a critical look at the personality traits that propel us to our first victories, but reveals how those same traits can hold us back from true and lasting success.

When it comes to the plight of the underdog, most of us would have to admit carrying a bit of a soft spot. Underdogs are easy to cheer for and support, and easy to excuse if they don’t hit the big-time. It’s an inspirational thing to watch people attain their first, much dreamed-of success when the odds are stacked against them. It’s the stuff of movies and memoirs. But what happens after the initial victory is where things get interesting. There’s a reason the film reels stop rolling before that struggle takes place.

Apparently there is a downside to being an underdog – once we attain success we often don’t know what to do with it or how to maintain it. Self-sabotage can occur far too easily. “Mindsets and relational bonds need to evolve in order for us to maintain success or to be the most authentic version of ourselves but so they often fail to. It’s often easier to go back to being an underdog rather than navigate our way forward in unfamiliar terrain. We don’t do it on purpose, but how can you safeguard yourself against something you are completely unaware of?” says Don.

That’s one reason he put pen to paper. Experience has shown him that sustaining success isn’t always something that comes naturally. Yet the x-factor that separates the lasting success stories from the one-hit wonders who sink back into obscurity has remained a mystery box of sorts. It is this puzzle that Don has spent years reflecting on.

The result is more like a life-coach than a book. Nestled in the pages of The Underdog Curse are some hard-earned lessons, and strategies that can take us out of the resentment-filled rut of people-pleasing and repetitive mistakes.

Don’s firsts literary offering reveals the saboteurs that can hold us back from lasting or repeat success. It examines our human compulsion to people-please, even at the cost of our own happiness, and shows how this can hold us back from being the best version of ourselves. In his down-to-earth style, Don takes readers through a potential minefield of barriers that can hold us in a pattern of frustration known as the underdog curse.

It’s not a generic motivational self-help book aimed at filling our inspiration tanks and letting us loose on the world. It’s a highly practical offering that springs from his own experience as a “chronic underdog,” drawing on the wisdom that came to him in the low points rather than the high ones. He doesn’t shy away from telling personal stories that resonate with readers as honest, open and practical keys to moving past our own weaknesses.

Don is a long term friend of the Australian Spinal Research Foundation, one we have seen on the Parker stage alongside his wife, Brandi. It might come as a surprise to hear him identify as ‘a recovering underdog.’ This in itself is proof of the books’ hard-earned wisdom.

What is a chiropractor doing writing a book like this? It turns out there is a health link too. How many times do we see stressed patients in our waiting rooms, weighed down by lives they don’t feel like they have full agency over? Don argues that when we are locked in a pattern of people-pleasing and discontent, or constantly pushing ourselves to the limit only to slide back to square one, we have chronic stress. The sympathetic nervous system stays fired up. We open ourselves to a slew of symptoms that present as our defences wear down. It’s not just our mental or emotional state that suffers.

Kicking the underdog curse therefore carries a wider importance. This isn’t just about success. It’s about health, authenticity, happiness and moving out of the ruts that keep us in a holding pattern of discontent.

Self-help junkies may relate to a common pitfall of the genre: the one where the author had one or two good ideas that would have fit in a single chapter, but that got padded out to full book length. This is not that book. Don has made sure that each new chapter comes with a fresh gem of wisdom and a handy strategy to keep readers moving through barriers to success and authenticity. This is an easy-to-read, insightful and practical book.

If you are interested in leaving your mark on the world, or if you are simply interested in reducing stress and connecting with purpose, this book is for you.

It’s time to crush the curse.

Find out more here: The Underdog Curse

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