Educate July 2017

“Option B” By Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant 


Written By: Sharon Brown, Prospect strategy analyst, University of Florida Office of Advancement 

“Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” is a book about resilience. How well do you think you bounce back? Are you willing to learn proven techniques that will enable you to survive and thrive after the unimaginable happens? When life takes a downturn and we’re suddenly challenged, we can’t just wish the issue away. Taking a deliberate step starts a process where “Option B” ends up delivering benefits beyond your initial needs.

Adversities are as varied as they are common in our lives. While tragedies are not always as final as losing a spouse like co-author Sheryl Sandberg experienced, “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” shows that we can build resilience after terrible events and emerge stronger and even changed for the better.

The book is co-written with Wharton psychologist and author Adam Grant, but the voice is all Sandberg’s — intentionally, she explains, to keep things smooth. The research — and there is a lot of it — is Grant’s department. He first came to my attention with The New York Times Magazine article “Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?” published in March 2013 and his book “Give and Take.” Grant’s ideas and research on the power of helping others succeed made me a believer in him and his work.

I think I would have preferred if he had written this book with Sandberg’s stories — in her voice — interspersed. It is a kind of textbook for facing life’s adversities head-on and with intention, so why not let the professor write it? Regardless, Sandberg is sincere and slightly self-deprecating — she is unafraid to be vulnerable and is willing to show herself, even if it doesn’t put her in the best light.

Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and, per Forbes, has a personal net worth of about $1.6 billion; and yet, she is not insulated from family tragedy. In 2015, her husband, David Goldberg, was found on the floor of a hotel gym, unconscious. Hours later, she suddenly found herself a widowed, single mother of two young children. Goldberg was the CEO of SurveyMonkey, and together, they were one of Silicon Valley’s brightest couples. Sandberg is quick to point out that she knows she’s not the only one to endure something like this, and she knows she had it slightly easier without financial worries to compound her grief.

Anyone can learn from Grant and Sandberg, and the 10 chapters in “Option B” offer examples and suggest rituals and routines. We’ve all heard of counting our blessings or making a gratitude list each morning or night. But, here’s two more ways to reflect. First, identify something you did a good job on. This helps build confidence, which can suffer when you are grieving or occupied by a negative situation. Then, take it a step further by noting moments of joy throughout your day. When noted and appreciated, tiny moments build your spirit, which is of course related to your resilience.

Overall, this is a useful and important book with wise lessons, fresh research and actionable insight. I found that the focus on joy was the best part for me. Joy without guilt, even in the face of tragedy, is the ultimate show of strength and resilience.

Adversities are as varied as they are common in our lives. While tragedies are not always as final as losing a spouse like co-author Sheryl Sandberg experienced, “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” shows that we can build resilience after terrible events and emerge stronger and even changed for the better. 

Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, authors of  “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding joy.” 

 

About the Writer:

Sharon Brown is a Prospect Strategy Analyst with the University of Florida Office of Advancement. A graduate of UF’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, she is happy to have found a career that marries reading, writing and being curious. She and her husband, also a CLAS alum, live in Gainesville. 

 

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