Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Joshua D. Henson, PhD


This book is framed around an actual event experienced by Dr. Gabriel McCurtis in the spring of 1975. While a senior at Ventura High School, located in the coastal region of Southern California, Gabriel prepared for the Ventura County Channel League Track and Field Finals that involved several Ventura and Santa Barbara County schools. Gabriel ran the 120-yard high hurdles in 14.8 seconds earlier in the season, which was a good time; however, he experienced a few nasty falls and hit hurdles during the mid-course of the year, which caused him to lose. This book elucidates the various lessons, principles, and changes in Dr. McCurtis’ thinking after reaching the second through tenth hurdles that have impacted his outlook on life and have been instrumental in developing his administrative acumen. The book includes insightful strategies and supporting academic theories to provide the reader with an understanding of how to overcome the most difficult circumstances. Dr. McCurtis writes about his experiences in running the hurdle race to demonstrate that winners indeed can come from behind, not only in a track and field event, but also in all areas of life that entail hindrances that may lead to failure. The book provides readers with practical strategies for dealing with adversity that can be the difference between being labeled a hero or a zero.