‘I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface and breathe again.’ – Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg is the COO at Facebook and international bestselling author of Lean In. In 2015 disaster struck when her husband, Dave Goldberg, died suddenly at the age of 47. Sheryl and her two young children were devastated, and she was certain that their lives would never have real joy or meaning again. Just weeks later, Sandberg was talking with a friend about the first father-child activity without a father. They came up with a plan for someone to fill in. ‘But I want Dave,’ she cried. Her friend put his arm around her and said, ‘Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.’
Everyone experiences some form of Option B. We all deal with loss: jobs lost, loves lost, lives lost. The question is not whether these things will happen but how we face them when they do. Sandberg’s new book, Option B, weaves her experiences of coping with adversity with new findings from her co-author, the award-winning psychologist Adam Grant, and other social scientists. The book features stories of people who recovered from personal and professional hardship, including illness, injury, divorce, job loss, sexual assault and imprisonment. These people did more than recover – many of them became stronger.
In this special Intelligence Squared in June 2017, Sandberg was joined by Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban for speaking up for women’s education. She refused to be silenced, and her recovery, bravery and stoicism have made her an international role model. In 2014 she became the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Sandberg and Yousafzai, in conversation with Grant, explored how even after the most devastating events, we can learn to find deeper meaning and appreciation in our lives and rediscover joy. They discussed how we can help others in crisis, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to our everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead.