Brief Reviews, Midweek Edition, VOLUME 3

Brief Review: OBSTACLES WELCOME by Ralph de la Vega [Midweek Edition]

A Brief Review of

Obstacles Welcome:
Turn Adversity to Advantage In Business and Life
Ralph de la Vega.

Hardback: Thomas Nelson, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Ralph de la Vega’s recent book Obstacles Welcome: Turning Adversity to Advantage in Business and Life chronicles the story of his rise from a humble beginning as a 10-year old Cuban immigrant to his present position as a top executive with AT&T Mobility.  The book also develops a strategy for handling adversity and using it to propel oneself toward success.

I picked up this book because I was curious about what it said about the nature of adversity and the impact of such challenges on our lives.  Despite de la Vega’s compelling autobiographical story, Obstacles Welcome did not offer much in the way of deeper reflections about the nature of adversity.  Instead what de la Vega provides us with here is rooted in a narrative of individualism and seems to fall in line with what I know of traditional self-help, leadership and business books.  The feel of the book, with frequent diagrams and bulleted “takeaway points” at the end of each chapter, reminded me of the sessions with motivational speakers that one of my previous employers, a Fortune 500 company, would host.  Adversity is real and is an inevitable part of life; however, we would do well to avoid this book and instead learn about adversity and redemption by the firsthand experience of sharing struggles with those in our church communities.

C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at:

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Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior

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