How to make a comeback

Published: Nov 12, 2013, 08:34 IST | Soma Das and Hassan M Kamal |

Cricketer Rohit Sharma's impressive recent innings have laid the demons of his past to rest, giving a fitting response to his detractors. The GUIDE tells you how to get back your mojo and turn career setbacks into stepping stones to success

History is filled with inspirational stories, where men/women have bounced back from the dumps of desperation, to reclaim not just respect, fame and following, but also a place they rightfully deserved. While for some it was inspirational talk or a mentor, more often than not, it was being snubbed or overlooked. Take the case of current Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma, who after years of slugging it out on and off the pitch, seems to be in the best form of his professional career. There was a time, when people had declared that Rohit’s cricketing career was dead, and the unforgiving fans of Indian cricket began to refer to him as “No-hit” Sharma. 

From being ignored in Team India, Rohit Sharma went on to lead the Mumbai Indians as well as the Mumbai Ranji team. Pic/Suresh KK

His worst setback was when he was ignored for the 2011 World Cup squad. In that edition, India went on to lift the cup after 28 years. And, Sharma had to watch it on TV. The snub, as his coach Dinesh Lad recently recalled to a city newspaper, fired Sharma to better his game and change his attitude. Today, the 26-year-old cricketer has not only proven himself as a batsman but also as a captain of the Mumbai Indians and the Mumbai Ranji team. Doing justice to his talent, he played a crucial innings for India, including 170 in his Test debut at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, and previously, a double ton in the ODI series against Australia that India won. So, what is it about snubs that inspire people to make a come back?

Mishti Verma

It’s all about psychology
Dr BP Bam, sports psychologist, who has worked with the Mumbai Ranji team, says that making a comeback is never easy, but it shows the mental strength of a person. “Most players don’t know how to deal with a loss of form, they feel practising harder would turn things around for them, and fail to realise that performance is as much associated with mental fitness as with physical fitness. Ideally, a sportsperson should be taught how to think and what to think from the beginning. But if one can not help himself, he should take help of a counsellor.”

Dr BP Bam

“It’s good to have talent, but you should also know how to tap it when needed,” he adds citing the example of pistol shooter Rahi Sarnobat, who was going neck to neck with Kyeongae Kim from Korea in the final round of the ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) World Cup in April 2013. Since the event was held in Korea, each time Kim fired her gun, the crowd replied with claps, but Sarnobat had zero support. The pistol shooter from Maharashtra, in her mind told the crowd to clap for Kim as much they wanted, as she will have the last clap. She won the gold medal at the event.

Clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Susan Walker believes that the mental make-up of the person is paramount: “It depends on how they view their role in that setback, how their personality type deals with life’s difficulties and to what extent their sense of self-esteem is tied to their job.”

She explains that the best way forward is to see it as an opportunity for self-reflection. Understand whether this is the career you really want, or was your uncertainty showing in your performance? Were the trappings of the job more important than the job itself? Did you need to be more assertive in defining your role at work? Were you unpleasant to colleagues? This can also help re-plan goals and develop new strategies.

The re-invention game
Mishti Verma, founder of alternative corporate training centre, Inner Katha, suggests a career skills revamp. “In an age of uncertainty and pink slips, career setbacks are inevitable. Build a solid foundation to face setbacks and bounce back. Utilise your time off to self-reflect and recharge, polish skills and make a plan and assess opportunities and keep at it. Identify gaps in your career competencies. Reinvent yourself and push the envelope to bounce back. Patience and proactiveness, is important to bounce back from a lull period or forced career sabbatical.” She recounts a case study of a journalist friend who lost her job during the recession but used the time to author a book, which became popular and was well-read.

Susan Walker

Varma adds, “Focus on creating a circle of influence versus circle of concern. Circle of influence would include company of positive friends, positive reinforcement by shaping positive thoughts and affirmations. Anything that influences your life positively, like a lost hobby, passion or networking with professionals that can influence your goals.”

Focus matters
Life coach Khyati Birla suggests a paradigm shift. “Nature and its cycles taught man that farming provided abundant variety of food than hunting and rearing cattle was more beneficial than simply hunting to ward off hunger. This demonstrates that for a human being, resilience is an important part of recovering from a perceived setback.”

She explains that a setback can help you shift focus and give up unwanted baggage. “Break free from fixed beliefs and redefine what is possible for you. Focus on how you can use the learning from this situation to benefit you. Give yourself permission to identify and fulfill your own dreams. Shift focus from ruminating to doing and thereby still feel purposeful and in charge. Make a list of the situations that trigger specific maladaptive thoughts and introspect whether they are necessary, truthful or productive at this stage of your life. Understand lulls and use that time productively for e.g., by adding more skills or engaging in activities that uplifts your spirits.”

Britney Spears: Spears started off as America’s sweetheart with appearances on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and later as a Pop star. Later, her career was marred with reports of erratic behaviour and she checked in a psychiatric ward. She made a comeback with successful concert tours.

Robert Downey Jr: After working in the award-winning movie, Chaplin, at the start of his career, Downey was in the news for his raging drug addiction and rehab stints. He was fired from the TV show Ally McBeal but later regained his footing with films like Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes.

Charlie sheen: The actor has been notorious for his dalliances with prostitutes, drug issues and attitude problems. He was fired from the sitcom Two and A Half Men but made a comeback with the sitcom, Anger Management.

Ronit roy: After starting his career as a film actor with films like Jaan Tere Naam, Roy had a lull in his career till he got roles in Kasautii Zindagi Kay and Kyunki Saas... which made him a household name. Today, he is popular as a film and TV actor.  

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