Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy


What is the book “Option B” about?

Sheryl Sandberg is a legend of Silicon Valley. A successful, talented, and a fascinating woman, former vice-president of Google, who for several years headed the staff of the US Treasury, she is now a member of the Facebook Board of Directors. She is frequently featured on lists of the most influential people in the world, according to such prestigious magazines like Forbes or Time.

She had a successful marriage to David (Dave) Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey, with two beautiful children. It seemed to be a perfect example of the American dream come true, wasn’t it? For Sheryl the horizon was clear, she was in complete control of her life, successfully combining work and family, which, admittedly, not everyone can. But then came a tragedy.

Dave and Sheryl together with their children were invited to the birthday of their friend Phil, which they were going to celebrate in Mexico. For them, it also was a long-awaited vacation by the sea. The first few days went perfectly. They were swimming in a sea, enjoying a pool with mineral water in it, attending the gym with their friends.

One morning Sheryl felt like laying down for a moment. When she woke up, Dave wasn’t there. She figured that her husband would be in a pool, but he wasn’t. He wasn’t with friends nor on the beach. Worried, Sheryl together with friends went to the gym, where they found Dave lying next to the treadmill, him bleeding from his head. He was dead. Initially, they believed the cause of death to be head trauma, but the autopsy revealed it was due to arrhythmia. Dave was only 42 years old. From that moment on, Sheryl’s life has completely changed.

She and their children were struck with grief. They just couldn’t believe that Dave was gone. They couldn’t find an explanation for what’s happened and didn’t know how to move on. Their happy family life was ruined.

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla offered Sheryl to take a break; they provided great support, but she felt even worse not working. At the same time at work, she could not think of anything other than her loss; she couldn’t comprehend that she was continuing to live without her husband. There was a void in her life, and it could never be filled. Even on her daughter’s birthday, she was severely depressed. She and Dave have always celebrated it together. Now she had to do it alone, taking pictures and joking with guests without Dave, but at the same time honoring him as well; she missed him. Sheryl refused to accept her loss, sinking deeper and deeper into grief.

And then came Adam Grant, her and Dave’s mutual friend and psychologist, with whom Sheryl has already co-written several articles and a book. Adam Grant is a specialist in motivation. He told Sheryl that grief is a part of everyone’s life, no matter how successful you are. You have to experience it; even the most horrible pain will eventually go away. Your life will never be the same, but at least you’re able to get over your sorrow a little bit quicker. Every person goes through losses and traumas.

And after any such accident, the central question becomes: “What comes next?” It seems that there is nothing to live for. It’s impossible to imagine anyone experiencing something that tragic and still moving on, to live their everyday life: going to work and shopping, looking after a home and family, but that person has no choice. Sheryl had a responsibility to her children and her colleagues; she couldn’t just walk away from everything. So, she had to overcome all of her shock, sorrow, and guilt then.

We can’t avoid tragedies, but we can take control of their influence on us. Not everyone is born with a healthy spine, but through exercises, it’s possible to build muscles surrounding it. Resilience works the same; we just need to keep on living no matter what.

One day, after the tragedy, a family’s friend Phil tried talking with Sheryl about raising children. She cried and said that she wants to do this only with Dave. “This option is not available,”- said Phil. “We’ll have to look for option B”.

We always plan a happy and quiet life, but not always it goes as expected. Tragedies can happen at any moment, but whatever happens, we can always find option B.

Summary and 10 Ideas of “Option B”

Idea №1 If you have a reason to live, then it’s not important how to do so.

Idea №2. Do not blame yourself.

Idea №3. Do not let misery affect all areas of your life.

Idea №4 Do not give up if the pain won’t go away – it takes time.

Idea №5 Look for a reason to be grateful even in the most dreadful situation.

Idea №6 Do not think that people, who aren’t trying to comfort you, are insensitive.

Idea №7 Those people, who have already dealt with grief and loss, will understand you better.

Idea №8 Feel free to have compassion not only for yourself but also for others.

Idea №9 Traumatic experience can turn into post-traumatic growth.

Idea №10 Suffering isn’t suffering when it has a meaning.

Review “Option B”

The book is very sincere and touching, written with brutal honesty and a desire to help those who have experienced a tragic event, suffered a significant loss. It’s almost as if Sheryl Sandberg is going through her grief all over again, reliving the pain that haunts her. And at the same time, it’s like she is watching herself as a dispassionate observer with an analytical mind. This turns her diary into a guide to action.

There are no blueprints on how to deal with grief, says Sandberg. Everyone deals with it differently. The most important thing is not to let our suffering to overshadow everything around us. We must always remember that there are people in this world who need us. And if we’ll open ourselves to them, our suffering will not have been in vain. It will turn into post-traumatic growth.

Pros and Cons:

  • Lots of ideas and tips that will help in difficult times.
  • Recurring repetition of ideas.

About Authors

Author of the book "Plan B"Sheryl Kara Sandberg (born Sheraton Kara Sandberg, born August 28, 1969, Washington) is an American entrepreneur who has been working with COO on Facebook since 2008, since June 2012 she has been a member of the company’s board of directors, the first woman in the company’s COO for history existence of Facebook . Prior to this, Kara was vice president of international web sales and operations at Google; In addition, she participated in the launch of Google’s charity line on Google.org. Earlier, Kara worked as a director of personnel for the US Treasury. In 2012 she was included in the annual list of Time 100, the list of the most influential people in the world according to Time magazine Her income is $ 30,491,613 (for 2011)

Watch and listen to her thoughts about Option B

Author of the book "Plan B"Adam Grant is the youngest and most popular among students of the Wharton School of Business. He devoted more than ten years of professional life to studying the psychology of relationships in a variety of structures – from Google to the US Air Force. The authoritative magazine BusinessWeek included Adam Grant in the world’s Top 40 professors under the age of 40.



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