Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Option B, is a thoughtful, well-researched and heartfelt account of her experience living life after her husband’s sudden death. It is filled with advice, stories and professional guidance (from her co-author Adam Grant) about how to be resilient in the face of some of life’s greatest tragedies. While much of the book is specific to the kind of unimaginable grief Sheryl experienced, it’s a book for anyone who faces challenges, which is all of us.
The authors focus on an idea I’ve long believed: that resilience is a learned skill that gets stronger with daily practice, rather than an inherent trait. I have a particular interest in the study of resilience and grit. (Grit: The Power of Passion and Perserverance is another fantastic book on the topic.) For as long as I can remember, I’ve battled depression and anxiety, with a sprinkling of low self-esteem thrown in to keep things interesting. One of the ways I cope and help myself from falling into a dark abyss is to continue to strengthen my resilience and focus on my ability to be gritty. It’s one of the reasons I work as hard as I do. When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re guaranteed to get knocked around a lot, so your success is ultimately predicated on your ability to be resilient. The same skills I use navigating challenging business-related situations, I also use in my personal life to help keep me out of the darkness that can all too easily seep into my mind.
It’s our ability to be resilient that helps us navigate the hardship that life throws our way. So much of what she wrote resonated with me. While I’ve never experienced the kind of earth-shattering loss she did, the idea of taking one day at a time, the need to ask for help and the importance of accepting help even if you never asked for it, are all things we should be doing anyway.
One part of the book struck a cord. Sheryl talks at length about the need for self-compassion and self-confidence, two things I’m actively trying to improve. I beat myself up over even the silliest of mistakes and fill my head with negative self-talk. As I was reading, I highlighted this line, “Self -compassion comes from recognizing that our imperfections are part of being human. Those who can tap into it recover from hardships faster.” Self-compassion takes tons of work and discipline, but what you get in return can completely change your life for the better.
At some point, life is going to pull the rug out from underneath us, if it hasn’t already. Possessing the skills to not only cope during but thrive in the aftermath of struggle is a gift to ourselves and the ones we love. After reading this, you’ll have a greater understanding of how to heal and care for yourself and how best to help those in your life who need it. It’s filled with compassion and empathy. It also deepened my appreciation for my little family and made me realize, once again, how fast and fleeting life is. I can’t recommend this book enough.