Thursday, June 28, 2018

Learning from Sheryl Sandberg's Option B

Last week I was in Chicago attending the SHRM—Society of Human Resources Managers—conference. I’m not an HR manager but at the last minute someone could not go so I said yes. And what a treat. 

Chicago, of course, is a great city, and the weather was great, and I walked a lot and ate a lot.

But the best part of the conference was the opportunity to see Sheryl Sandberg—COO of Facebook-- in person. She was the keynote speaker, and she was also interviewed by Adam Grant, who was the co-author on her powerful book, “Option B”.

You may know of Sheryl for her first book, “Lean In” –about women and leadership. That book has been celebrated, criticized and parodied. I had mixed feelings about that message: “What’s holding you back is that you are not speaking up, working 80 hours and leaning in.” Just a teeny bit of privilege there.

But when I read “Option B”—written after Sheryl’s husband died unexpectedly—I was cheering for her and the message: “When option A is no longer available, you have to kick the sh*t out of option B”.

If you have not read—or even better, listened to—“Option B” go get it. If you have cancer you are living option B, and if you are a caregiver, you are living option B. You will laugh and cry along with Sheryl, and you will race for a pencil to write down great ideas from co-author, psychologist Adam Grant.

In Chicago Sheryl talked about what she learned, and because this was a conference for HR people she gave great advice for organizations and people at work. She is the COO of Facebook and she was stunned to learn that her company offered only five days of bereavement leave for the death of a spouse. Changing that for American businesses has become her crusade. She asked every HR director to go home and change their policy to 20 days—that’s four weeks.

She also spoke to the audience as people who are coworkers of someone living option B.

 She said, “Don’t avoid talking to your coworker about the death in their family or the cancer they are dealing with. Bring up chemo and caregiving with a coworker. You are not reminding them. They already know they are hurting.”

You, here in CancerLand, know that look at work. Someone trying to not notice that you have cancer, not asking about your sick child, or your Mom in hospice. 

HR Departments should have copies of Sandberg’s “Option B” or maybe some of us should keep a couple of used copies on hand. Everyone—every single one of us—will be called on to kick the sh*t out of option B someday. So let’s start learning.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Loving the Wrong Person--Andrew Boyd

Getting ready to officiate at a friend's wedding a few weeks ago I was reading a lot of love and relationship poetry. As you'd expect there was a lot of blue birds and idealism and perfection and
forever in those volumes.

But then I came across Andrew Boyd, and his poem, "Loving the Wrong Person" and I can that be a wedding poem? And then I read it and I thought, "this is the perfect poem for the perfectly wrong couple." Voila!

Here's that perfect poem:

 We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us.
 But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong.
 Why is this? 
 Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way.
 But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness.
And it isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your 
unsolvable problems–the ones that make you truly who you are–that
you’re ready to find a lifelong mate.
Only then do you finally know what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the wrong person.
But not just any wrong person: it’s got to be the right wrong person–someone you
lovingly gaze upon and think,
 “This is the problem I want to have.”

--Andrew Boyd