I just read Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, essay “Building strong kids, even after a loss”, published in the New York Times International Edition on April 25, and I am not only deeply impressed, but heartened. The essay is an adaptation from her last book: ”Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, a Finding Joy”, which she has written together with Adam Grant – Wharton’s top-rated professor.
Having Mrs. Sandberg – for millions of women -myself included- a referent, even an epitome of a “successful woman”- talking so openly about her infinite loss (her husband died suddenly two years ago from a cardiac arrhythmia while vacationing) on one hand humanizes her, on the other hand, can only enlarge her public profile and visibility.
Option B (currently # 1 National Best Seller) combines Mrs. Sandberg’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Mrs. Sandberg’s opens up her hearth –and her journal- to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt I the wake of her husband’s death. But Option B goes beyond her loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, natural disasters and even the violence of war.
As a society (and I quote), “we owe all our children safety, support, opportunity and help finding a way forward”. Especially for those who live in poverty (2 out of 10 children in the United States, not to talk about the figure in underdeveloped countries), for those one missing their parents (more than 2.5 million kids have a parent in jail in the United States), for those enduring serious illness, neglect or abuse”.
As a mother of three, I can only emphasize the rightness of her assertion: “As parents, teachers and caregivers, we all want to raise resilient kids – to develop their strength so they can overcome obstacles big and small”. The good news is that resilience isn’t a fixed personality trait; we’re not born with a set amount of it. Resilience is a muscle we can help kids build. The bad news (or at least the not so good ones), is that achieving that task, it’s not easy, at all.
As Mr. Charles M. Blow, NYT columnist, wrote in his article “Resilience of the resistance” when taking about the travesty of Donald Trump’s presidency: “The issue of resilience was one that I worried and wondered about from the beginning: For far too many Americans in this digital age, stamina is rare, attention spans are short and the urge for instant gratification, or at least for expedient resolution is enormous”.
If resilience, or the capacity the persist ahead of adversity has oft been a rare trait, in the new hyper connected, anxious, and self-indulgent society we are heading to, might become even more scarce. Nonetheless, since we all live some form of Option B, to be able to make the most out of it, is a great gift.