How Sheryl Sandberg can Help us all Learn to Lean into the Suck by @ChristyCareer

by Christy Williams | Featured Contributor

Is it time for you to lean into the suck?

I have been wondering about that for myself recently.

Things have been…hard. This is one of the most challenging times I’ve experienced so far in my life. I suppose some of it comes as a natural by-product of my age and the stage I’m at in life.

I have one child in elementary school and one in her freshman year in high school. Both schools start at the same time, eight miles apart, and neither school has buses. So I have suddenly found myself in the car for an hour in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. And that doesn’t include any time spent carpooling kids to extracurricular activities or running errands.

It’s been an adjustment, to say the least.

And that’s just logistics. That doesn’t even include the overwhelming amount of mom-coaching involved in the realities of a new school, teenager life, and all that goes with it—new friends jockeying for position with old friends, technology safety worries, a slew of new activity opportunities, and simply learning a new school’s layout and schedule.

My daughter and I joke that we are already on Plan F for how we are going to get everything handled, Plans A through E having already been thrown out each time a new curveball is thrown and we have to readjust. But we are passionate about these schools, and we are committed to making the logistics work.

And at the same time, here I am.

Wanting more for myself.

I’ve worked hard to build professional momentum over the past few years and I don’t want to lose any of it. I am feeling impatient and more than ready to grow my own soul work. And it’s frustrating when there are only so many hours in the day in which to get everything done.

To be really honest, it kind of sucks.

Feeling back-burnered.

Feeling like I have to wait some more.

And then feeling bad about feeling that way! Because I “have it all” (whatever that means) and nothing is more important to me than my children’s health, happiness, and education. I was feeling like I had no right to feel this way.

Until I saw an interview that Oprah Winfrey did with Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, that helped me start to think about things differently.

Sheryl’s husband, Dave, passed away at the young age of 47 while on vacation with their family in the spring of 2015. She has since written a book called Option B with psychologist and friend, Adam Grant, about resilience and facing adversity in our lives.

In the interview, she recounts the advice that her rabbi offered her soon after her husband’s death. He told her to “lean into the suck.”

That phrase has stuck with me ever since I saw the interview.

Lean into the suck. I love that.

By no means am I comparing what I am currently experiencing to anything remotely similar to what Sheryl Sandberg has experienced. Not even close. But I still think this phrase is something helpful to remember when we’re experiencing the suck in our own lives.

Because the hard times are going to come. In Sandberg’s case, it was knowing that the unimaginable grief was going to come—and learning to just allow it to come.

As entrepreneurs, our hard times are obviously much different than the ones faced by anyone confronting a tragic loss like Sandberg.

But how can we as entrepreneurs learn to lean into the suck?

1. Acknowledge the suck.

As entrepreneurs, we are used to powering through and doing whatever it takes to get things done. But there will be times when things are just sucking. Either we don’t have enough time in our day to do what we want to do, or we’re struggling to get our work out there as much as we want, or we’re even just having a difficult time working with a business partner. There are times when it’s just going to suck. And that’s okay.

2. Don’t try and squash the suck.

One of my favorite parts of this interview was when Sandberg laughed at how she not only felt bad—but then she felt bad for feeling bad! That set off all kinds of bells and whistles for me. That is exactly how I was feeling! But we are allowed to have these feelings. Just because we chose these schools for our kids doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to feel frustrated that I don’t have as much time to write as I would like. And just because you chose to be an entrepreneur and pursue your own soul work doesn’t mean you won’t have bad days. Allow yourself to feel those sucky feelings. And don’t beat yourself up over it.

3. Do what you can while you’re in the suck.

This is where Option B comes in. When things don’t look like you wish they did, or when Option A is no longer an option, we have to do the best we can with what we have. Maybe that means adjusting our business plan to make changes we weren’t anticipating. Or maybe it means making some tough decisions about no longer working with partners or clients that aren’t benefiting our business. Or maybe it’s simply accepting that we only have a few hours to write today instead of full-time. But I will find the time in bits and pieces and make it work, because it’s the only option I have right now. As one of Sheryl’s friends said to her, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the sh*t out of option B.”

Or if you’re anything like me, option F.


Image and Video: YouTube


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