Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B


This blog was originally published on the Huffington Post here

Recently, I’ve experienced a bit of a setback. I broke both arms which, as a communications strategist, has been rather difficult. And to make matters a little more complicated, I had to undergo surgery to screw my wrist back into place. It’s a bit gory, so I’ll move swiftly on. 

The silver lining is that I’ve been forced to slow down. At times it’s felt like I’ve been forced to come to a complete stop, but that’s not true. I’ve been reading a lot and pouring over the words of those that inspire me, and, as a result, I’ve decided to start my own book club/blog where I can share (and for my own reference, archive) inspirational reads. 

In my mid-twenties I poured over Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg’s best-selling Lean In which encouraged me to challenge my sense of Imposter Syndrome, and, rather than waiting for opportunities, or invitations to express my point of view, create these myself. I also remember my shock when in 2015 I read Sheryl’s husband, Dave Goldberg CEO of SurveyMonkey, suddenly died while running on a treadmill, and I wondered how this was going to affect her. 

WHITE BOOK

Earlier this year, Sheryl released her second book, the sequel she wasn’t planning for, Plan B – Facing Adversity, Building Resilience & Finding Joy, in which she addresses Dave’s death, and managing grief. The book is co-authored by Psychology Professor Adam Grant and I bought it some months ago during a bit of a bookshop binge while killing time in an airport. Although I’m currently struggling to write, I can still turn pages, so last week I sat down to give it a read.

As Sheryl explains, “In my personal life I’m not somebody who embraces uncertainty. I like things to be in order,” and this is a sentiment I know all too well. So, when life suddenly gets in the way of your plans!, how you respond to this challenge becomes a test. And, as Option B makes clear, sometimes loss can be a source of growth.

Bringing in her own story, and the research and wisdom of Adam, Option B explores various tales of those who’ve faced adversity and lost Option A in life, “but have gone on to kick the shit out of Option B.” Later, she writes that we’re all living some form of Option B and it’s how we perceive these unexpected diversions, not the events themselves, which determines our experience of them.  

I’d never really considered what my life would be like should I not be able-bodied. Physical activity, whether it’s surfing, swimming or even boot camp has been a huge source of joy for me. Hell, it was trying to drop in on a skate ramp that got me into this pickle in the first place! But, more than physicality, my creativity and career rest on my right hand working in full force.

So last week, lying in my beautiful blue robe in the hospital, high on morphine, I found myself reconsidering my options. I thought, maybe I should refine my craft as a strategist, which mostly involves research, analysing data and planning, or, maybe I should become a speech coach or presentation mentor, which involves verbal feedback rather than text? Or, maybe, as I’ve done with this blog, I can use a dictation app, and sit at my desk yelling commands at my computer to capture my thoughts.

Exclamation mark, new paragraph!

In all honesty, I’m only on Week 2 after surgery and the likelihood that my hands, and my life!, will be back to normal within a week is high. And yet, I’m feeling a renewed sense of gratitude for my health, being able to perform trivial tasks such as opening cans and putting on a bra, and a heightened sense of empathy for those who’ve faced adversity and are kicking the s*** out of Option B.

Option B is a beautiful read on resilience and how we build it. Because the ugly truth is that we all face deterioration and loss in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we lose control of them. As Sheryl says, “if you don’t see that growth is possible, you’re not going to find it.” She decided to look for it, and this book is her testament.

Read the book? Give me your view!

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