At Work

Become More Flexible – By Having an ‘Option B’

By: Valerie Ling

In her book “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, tells the heart breaking story of suddenly losing her husband.

She reveals openly her struggles and attempts to work through her grief. She tells of the time when her young children were to attend an event that their father would have accompanied them to. Instead someone else stepped in to do this. In the book she recounts how distraught she was, that she wanted her husband and their father to do this, and not have someone else stand in. Her friend firmly tells her, sometimes life deals you Option B and you just have to grab it and run hard with it.

Option B. One of the ways I encourage people I work with to have a flexible mindset when it comes to investing their identity in their work, is to hold that Option A, or in my words the “bull’s eye thinking” very, very loosely. We can invest so much of our time, energy, focus and eventually identity in achieving success in one track, that if hard times fall, or life happens and we need to adjust, or simply that Option A does not happen, we lose ourselves as well.

If you listen in, however, to some of the most driven and contributing members of society, they rarely finished, or stayed put in the initial thoughts of what they would do. What they did do was to identify what they derived meaning and purpose from, and found a variety of ways to express that – personally and professionally.

Option B thinking is an exercise I like to encourage. Think of 20 other things you could do to express the loves and service drivers you have. Don’t censor it – treat it as a true brainstorming exercise. This helps to see that if not Option A, then Option B, C, D, E …….

What could be your Option B?


Article supplied with thanks to Valerie Ling.

About the Author: Valerie Ling is a clinical psychologist and consultant with The Centre for Effective Living (a psychology and mental health practice) and The Centre for Effective Serving (a workplace wellbeing consultancy).

Feature image: Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash 

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