Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
April 24, 2017
None of our lives goes perfectly according to plan, and all of us face tragedy and grief. In that sense, "We all live some form of Option B." Cheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant will help us all make the most of it.
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant are two of the most successful authors currently working under the ever broadening umbrella of what defines the "business book" category.
Their new book fits in the category, but goes far beyond it. It "illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces." That might seem like a lot to take on, but in their very capable hands and minds, it makes for insightful and inspiring reading.
It all begins in 2015, when Sheryl's husband Dave died suddenly. Adam was one of the first people to reach out to her, and he helped her navigate her grief. She told the world of how he had done so in the Facebook message she posted at the end of her sheloshim period of mourning, and their new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, tells that story in more detail. But it does much more than that. It opens up the topic of resilience more broadly, and shares the lessons and examples provided by other people in moments of tragedy and grief. It tells the stories of people who have overcome hardships "including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war." It also reveals the research Adam has been doing on the topic of resilience and "finding strength in the face of adversity."
Our General Manager, Sally Haldorson, reviewed the book last week. Writing about Redefining Resilience and Telling a New Life Story, she speaks to how profoundly tragedy can alter us:
When tragedy lands a blow, the disorientation is profound. The ground drops out from under our feet; gravity releases its pull; up is now down, and the ceiling the floor. In the face of such surreality, people need something foundational to cling to. In addition to Sandberg’s personal narrative, Option B retells other stories of survival, brief reminders that ordinary people are capable of crafting a new narrative despite, no, because, of their grief.
Sandberg’s story of resurrection from tragedy is a particularly necessary voice for professionals who have invested so much in making a life with all the protections assumed by love, money, status. While the hybrid nature of the book might not allow for intimate knowledge of Sandberg’s experience, the multitudinous stories of resilience will unite all readers.
Sally also crafted five very carefully considered questions, and the authors responded in kind. Our Q&A with Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant posted this morning, just as the bookstores began putting the book out for sale on their shelves for the first time. Speaking of the importance of community in building resilience, Sandberg responded:
It turns out that community doesn’t just matter for building our individual resilience. It’s critical for collective resilience too. Adam and I learned that when communities come together, they have more strength to overcome adversity and they can actually work to prevent adversity. In Option B, we write about The Posse Foundation, which identifies underprivileged students who have shown unusual potential and sends them to college together in groups of ten on scholarship. They arrive with a community, so they no longer feel alone, and often work together to create positive stereotypes about their group instead of feeling trapped by negative ones. Posse has sent nearly 7,000 students to college with a graduation rate of 90 percent.
We also write about how companies can build resilience. At Facebook, since we are a young company, our management team takes an annual trip to an organization with “staying power.” Past examples include Pixar and the Marine Corps Base Quantico. At Quantico we learned that they formally debrief every mission and every training session and record the lessons learned in a repository for everyone to access. We made this a norm at Facebook, and it has helped us learn from our mistakes and make fewer mistakes… or at least different mistakes.
The bottom line is, we build resilience together in our companies, communities, friendships, and families.
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, and the foundation they've set up to continue the work on the ground, OptionB.Org, are both great resources to begin building that resilience.
We have 20 copies available.