“Tragedy does not have to be personal, pervasive or permanent, but resilience can be. We can build it and carry it with us throughout our lives.”
When we run Resilience programmes, there is a point, usually at morning break, where people start to open up about their own personal stories of tough times. Whether about gut-twisting stress, relentless pressure or personal tragedy, these bring home the reality that life is rarely smooth and everyone needs the skills and support to stay resilient through it.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s No. 2 executive has just written an amazing book – “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” – about her own searing experience following the sudden death of her husband and what helped her get through.
She describes her own devastating grief and how she felt unable to protect her children from theirs. How, on arriving at the cemetery for their father’s funeral, the children “got out of the car and fell to the ground, unable to take another step. I lay on the grass, holding them as they wailed,”
And she acknowledges “how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home.”
She found solace and support when she shared her feelings via a Facebook post and was met with a surge of people reaching out to her to share their own experiences of loss.
Sandberg discusses the personal and organisational skills and policies that help people deal with difficulties including allowing employees more time off after the death of a loved one, supporting people once they are back at work and reminding them that their contributions are needed and welcome.
And she is a strong believer in pre-traumatic growth – people’s ability to build up resilience before something bad happens so that they can deal with it better
And why call the book “Option B”? Just after her husband died, Sheryl was making plans for a friend to fill in for a father-child activity.
She cried and said to the friend, “But I want Dave.”
He put his arm around her and said, “Option A is not available. So, let’s just kick the s— out of Option B.”