Role Model: Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg has always been a role model for me. She’s Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and ranked as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business by Fortune Magazine, one of the world’s 100 most powerful women by Forbes, and I loved her book “Lean In” which promotes female leadership at the workplace.

(Transcript – 2012)

(Transcript – 2016)

From her latest Commencement Keynote at UC Berkeley, some things really spoke to me:

Psychologist Martin Seligman found how people deal with setbacks can be referred to three P’s — personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence. These are critical to how we bounce back from hardship. The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.

The first P is personalization — the belief that we are at fault. Not everything that happens to us happens because of us. We must remember to not take failures personally.
The second P is pervasiveness — the belief that an event will affect all areas of your life. It’s important to remember there are many other aspects that are going well: health, family, friends, career, hobbies. There were other things in life that were not awful.
The third P is permanence — the belief that the sorrow will last forever. Feelings are not permanent, and we have the power to change them. E.g. think about how much worse things could be (like the Japanese wabi-sabi concept).

“A few years ago, my mom had to have her hip replaced. When she was younger, she always walked without pain. But as her hip disintegrated, each step became painful. Now, even years after her operation, she is grateful for every step she takes without pain—something that never would have occurred to her before.”

Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. No matter what happens each day, try to think of something you are thankful for.

The easy days ahead of you will be easy. It is the hard days—the times that challenge you to your very core—that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.

A few weeks after Dave died, I was talking to my friend Phil about a father-son activity that Dave was not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave.” Phil put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”

This bit really made me cry. I think that’s one of the scariest things in life that can happen to anyone that we can never prepare ourselves for: losing someone you love. And it all happened so suddenly, suddenly she was made to live the rest of her life without her favourite person in the world without even the chance to say goodbye. I’d be so devastated. I might lose my mind.

Live with the understanding how precious every day actually is. Live life with joy and meaning. There are many challenges we will face in life. Build resilience.

“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. When tragedy or disappointment strike, know that you have the ability to get through absolutely anything.”

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