We all have access to beloved Ted Talks. Thanks to the internet, we have access to all of the inspirational articles, interviews and podcasts that we could possible dream of. What we don’t have access to all the time is those people in real time, particularly an inspirational leader who unintentionally, has become a worldwide hero. Not only is Sheryl Sandberg a hero for women but is now also a hero for anyone who has experienced any form of grief or faced adversity that has pushed survival mode into action.
As I read Option B, I was continuously impressed with Sheryl’s ability to write so inclusively. There was no “poor me”, no sugar coating, nothing but unapologetic, honest grief. It’s hard to give a justified description without accidentally disrespecting what Sheryl so beautifully created within Option B. While being incredibly emotional, the book is by no means depressing as you might expect a book about grief to be. Whether Sheryl realised or not, her resilience in coping with her own grief radiated from every page as she walked us through her experience of something we’ve all unfortunately, had to face ourselves. Despite Option B being a brainchild of her own experience, there’s nothing selfish about the entire book. Together with Adam Grant, Sheryl takes the time to highlight the stories of others and supports every argument and suggested coping mechanism with statistics. She keeps things very real and very honest, maintaining honest communication with her readers and community while miraculously keeping a tone of positivity and strength at the forefront even at her lowest points. All of these are traits she portrays just as authentically in person.
Despite having read the book, the emotion of Sheryl’s presence surprised me. Everything that she had gone through and written about suddenly felt painstakingly real. Every so often I remembered her children now without a dad, her in-laws without a son and brother and herself without a husband. This was followed by thoughts of how much she has achieved through both Lean In and Option B and how much impact she has had on people’s lives. Soon I was welling up with an overwhelming amount of pride for a woman in reality, I barely knew. The pride kept swelling as I watched Nuala, someone I did know, on stage interviewing Sheryl, talking about Lean In and proving to us all why she makes such a wonderful leader of Lean In Belfast and Ireland (something she’s far too modest about).
I hadn’t considered myself an overly emotional person until attending Sheryl Sandberg’s Fireside chat a few weeks ago. In a separate reflection of the event written by my Mum, you’ll find a much more poignant description of the emotion that filled the room that evening and while I hadn’t intended to create a copy cat article, I can’t help but agree with almost everything she wrote.