By early 2015, Sheryl Sandberg seemed to have it all: a powerful role as the chief operating officer of Facebook; an influential voice for women in corporate America, as the author of Lean In; and a happy, supportive family. Then her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, died suddenly while on vacation. Devastated, Sandberg started publicly chronicling her grief and her family's struggle to resume life after loss. Her widely-shared Facebook post, published 30 days after Goldberg's death, turned into this spring's Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, which Sandberg cowrote with Wharton professor Adam Grant. "I'm still getting through this," she says now--but she's also sharing what she's learned about helping others return to work and to life after their own tragedies. As told to Inc. senior editor Maria Aspan in the video interview above, and transcribed here:

I've long believed that we have to take our whole selves to work; I wrote this in Lean In. Because it's just not the case that we're these professional people during the day, and these emotional people at night and weekends. Then when I lost my husband suddenly, I had no choice but to take myself to work. I couldn't get through a meeting in the very early days without tearing up.

What I learned is that we don't have a fixed amount of resilience. Resilience is like a muscle we build, but we don't only build it in ourselves, we build it in each other. And we build it by acknowledging the pain people are going through, and really being there for each other.

I feel so lucky. I have amazing colleagues. And my boss, Mark Zuckerberg, didn't just give me the time off I needed--and that's something I think is really important for businesses to do--but he also really built me back up. When I thought I couldn't do my job, he was the one who said, "No, I think you made a good point in that meeting." And so he helped me, both by acknowledging the pain I was in but also by telling me he still believed in me.

I know that so many colleagues at work have faced truly hard things. And I think when we are there for each other--not just pretending hard things aren't happening, but acknowledging them and supporting each other very explicitly--we build better communities, better companies, better workplaces.

And we need each other. I could never have gotten through this--and I'm still getting through this, I'm still relying so much on my colleagues and friends every day. And I'm hoping that Option B can help break open some of those conversations so we can be more of our authentic selves in the workplace.

 

Published on: May 30, 2017