By Shaun Ryan
What if every adversity you face points you toward something better? What if there were a way to more effectively meet life’s challenges and overcome them, ultimately discovering a greater sense of purpose?
The good news is that these things are possible, and a new book maps out steps toward that goal. And it wasn’t written by some celebrity who has resources unattainable to the ordinary person. Instead, the author is a regular guy who has endured his share of hardship and thoughtfully reconstructed the means by which he prevailed.
Nocatee resident Rob Swymer has enjoyed a long, successful career and has been a sales executive with various software companies. But life has not always been a cakewalk.
He has endured a learning disability, a disease in his eyes at age 23 that rendered him legally blind, alcohol abuse, depression and, worst of all, the sudden death of his first wife due to a brain aneurysm in 2013.
“It was horrible,” he said. “That changed me. It changed my perspective. It changed my outlook.”
He talked to people he knew from around the world, people who had faced their own severe adversities. What he found was that those who prevailed all had something in common.
“Ultimately, it took an act of surrender to be able to move forward,” he said.
The idea resonated with his own experience, but he wanted to better understand this idea of surrender, so he asked friends who were serving in the military.
“They said, ‘We don’t surrender. We push back, we re-evaluate, and we move forward,’” he recalled.
It proved to be a critical point: giving up vs. giving in.
“Giving up is one thing,” Swymer said. “That’s the end. Giving in gives you the opportunity to step back, evaluate where you are and then move forward with new purpose and new perspective.”
And move forward he did. In 2016, Swymer found love again and formed a blended family with his second wife, Melissa. Five years ago, they moved to Ponte Vedra.
In an unexpected way, it was another “setback” that opened the door to Swymer’s becoming an author.
In 2020, his company sent him to London, where he had hoped he and his wife would be able to seize the opportunity to travel around Europe. But a month in, COVID-19 struck and the Swymers found themselves in lockdown.
That’s when Swymer, who had only read about five books in his entire life, wrote “Surrender to Your Adversity.” A certified life coach, he’d long wanted to write such a book, but now opportunity knocked.
He drew from his own experiences, but also those of others with whom he’d spoken. I have explored how one’s internal voice influences every thought, belief and action. And behind it all was a desire to give something back, one of his core values of him.
“I didn’t write the book to make a million dollars or sell a million copies,” he said. “I wrote the book to help one person. If I could get one person to read it and say, ‘I’m going to use that principal,’ then I will really feel blessed. I’ll feel I’ve done a good thing.”
Some nights he wrote for 20 minutes. Other times, he lost himself in the writing and suddenly realized it was 3 am He laid bare his own experiences and held nothing back.
“If I was really going to give back, then I had to be all-in,” he said. “I had to be vulnerable, and I had to be authentic.”
So, he would regularly open his laptop, get a cup of tea — this was, after all, London — and just wrote. After five months, the book was finished.
Two years later, the Swymers are back in Nocatee, and the book has proceeded through its editing, publication and marketing stages.
Published by BookLogix, “Surrender to Your Adversity” will be released as an ebook and in paperback and hardback on Monday, April 25. It will be available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and on Kindle.
Swymer will offer a free author talk along with a book signing event from 6:30 to 8 pm Tuesday, April 26, at the link, 425 Town Plaza Ave., Ponte Vedra.