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Things Could be Worse

Cheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, has been making the rounds on media channels the past couple months, promoting her new book Option B. Its on my list of things to read, but I was delighted when she visited one of my favorite shows, "On Being", for an interview.

I remember hearing about her husband's sudden death back in 2015 while they were on vacation together. After the initial shock of what had just happened and then the arduous task of transporting his body home, she began the harder work of telling her children. I've listened to this discussion more than once and cried every time. I can't recommend it enough.

There are many points in this interview that warrant reflection and asking, "how might I incorporate this into my life?" But one that stuck with me immediately and I'm working hard to engrain is, "things could always be worse." This is a piece of self-talk her co-author, Wharton professor and organization psychologist, Adam Grant, passed onto her. When Grant shared this with her, Sandberg's reaction understandably was, "what in the heck are you talking about?! My husband just died and I barely have the strength to continue on. I only do so for my kid's sake." That is when Grant said something awful, yet true. "What if Dave (her husband) had been driving your kids in the car instead when he had his heart attack? They could've been injured or killed too." Sandberg said she felt better instantly after being offered that scenario. She still had her children and was incredibly grateful for that.

In my community, country, and world, which often feel out-of-control, I have worked to call upon this when feeling frustrated or losing hope. I try to imagine what could be worse for me personally or for my community. And I have to say in the moment, it helps bring me back to the present and take stock in what I am lucky to have and is still worth fighting for.

Go Forth Boldly


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