Today’s post was written by Amy Fenollosa, Director of Learning at The Latimer Group.
The media maelstrom around Sheryl Sandberg’s latest book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy stirred up almost as much public attention as it did emotion for me. First a friend sent me the link to a television interview, and then I heard a story on NPR, next it popped up in my Facebook feed. I ordered it immediately.
I’ve followed Sheryl Sandberg’s career since Lean In was published in 2013. When I heard the news that she suddenly lost her husband in 2015, I felt her agony. My connection to Sheryl Sandberg was instant and intense. I too, lost my husband when he was in his 40s. My children, like hers, lost their father when they were in 2nd and 4th grades.
Sheryl bravely described her loss and grief publicly, first on Facebook and then in Option B. She called attention to something so universal that it affects everyone in some way, at some time in their lives. Sandberg’s sage, practical guide offers help for those who are grieving and those whose lives touch them. Which means, of course, everyone.
Sandberg weaves her own narrative and the stories of other people who have had extraordinary life experiences to show the myriad of losses that human beings endure and can overcome. We learn of other people’s experiences, their struggles and their victories. We learn the ways that they find light and hope in times of unbearable sadness. We learn resilience.
By sharing her story in Option B Sandberg has started a dialogue around resilience and loss. I’m hopeful that she’s also starting a movement for storytelling. Storytelling allows us to be empathetic, to slow down and listen to one another. In an interview published in the New York Times, she was asked: “Is there hope in sharing our deepest stories?”
“I’ve thought about this a lot… we need to create areas to come together, where we can be there for each other.”
Since my husband passed away after a long battle with cancer, I’ve committed myself to creating a community for other families. I founded a non-profit that helps children who are living with a critically ill parent learn to share their stories. We empower kids to express themselves through creative arts. Families come together as part of a community of others who are living similar experiences. My goal is to help families find solace in communities and help one another through listening to each other.
I’m grateful to Sheryl Sandberg for sharing her story and exposing her grief. She’s a leader modeling the power of storytelling to help build human connections, even in business environments. One of my favorite classes to teach at The Latimer Group involves storytelling. We all have a story — those stories are poignant, captivating and inspiring. We each have something to share. Learn by sharing stories. Learn by listening. You’ll be a better leader because of it.