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Dealing With Unmet Expectations

Point to ponder:

Do you need to change your approach to a challenging situation?

If you are into reading or looking for a great summer read, I highly recommend Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg. If you watch the morning news, talk shows or read the paper, I am certain that you’ve heard about her and her brilliant book. In fact, she is one of the keynote speakers at this year’s Texas Conference for Women. I’m also certain that if she could change her circumstance that inspired her to write the book, she would. However, out of the tragic and sudden death of her young husband, she arrived at choosing Option B.

I won’t give the story away, but I need to provide some history. For starters, Sheryl is a mother of two young children, her late husband Dave Goldberg was the CEO of Survey Monkey and she has been the COO of Facebook since 2008 and is the author of the book Lean In. In May 2015, Sheryl and her husband Dave were on vacation in Mexico with friends. While Sheryl was enjoying time with their friends, Dave went to workout and never returned. Sadly, while running on the treadmill Dave fell and died from accidental blunt force trauma. He was 47.

So, how and where did Option B come from? In the midst of Sheryl and her childrens’ grief, painfully trudging through life without a husband and father, and experiencing all of the painful firsts without Dave, Sheryl found herself unbearably sad and intensely mad. In the midst of back to school night without Dave and trying to figure out how to be at two places at once, she cried and complained to her brother about the unfairness of the situation. It was then that her brother wisely said these words, “Sheryl, option A is no longer and option, so let’s kick the sh#@ out of option B!”

WHAT??!?! That is insanely awesome wisdom! As I contemplated kicking the sh#@out of option B, I got pumped about the latitude and freedom by which this perspective could give us all. Personally and at the time, my husband Russell was without a job and very discouraged. Of course I shared this inspiration with him, but I also treated him with his own copy of the book (I couldn’t resist!). My goal was to provide him with endless inspiration that while option B may not be preferred, it also doesn’t have to be terrible. In fact, it could better than we ever imagined.

As this relates to each of us, aren’t expectations where we find ourselves in the most trouble? We expect for life to go one way and when it doesn’t (which happens all of the time), rather than shift, realize all of the other possibilities and kick the sh#@ out of option B, we get stuck in the why, the unfairness of the situation, the pain of it all and the unmet expectations.

I was discussing kicking the sh#@ out of option B with iGnite member and my professional coach, Martha Lynn Mangum, and she informed me of another insightful book called The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. In this book, studies were performed on champion athletes. The information they were trying to gain was what differentiates a champion athlete from other great athletes. In other words, when all of the variable are the same, such as talent, training schedule, diet, sleep, nutrition, etc., the one variable that makes an athlete a champion is their ability to recover mentally and emotionally from defeat, an upset or setback. It’s the idea of my childhood hero Michael Jordan not making his varsity basketball team to being one of the greatest basketball players off all times. Another example is Eli Manning (the starting quarterback for the New York Giants), who led NFC east in interceptions yet led his team to two Super Bowls. The list goes on and on and in Option B, Sheryl details research studies and story after story about regular people who have been through hell and back, yet chose to kick the sh#@ out of option B, practice resilience and continue to live life in incredible ways. And, when others can kick the sh#@ out of option b and are able to find joy, it gives us hope that when we come face to face with adversity, we too can do it.

In my almost 40 years of life, what I am figuring out is that we are either coming out of a trial or entering into one. I’m not intending to be pessimistic or a Debbie Downer, but instead be realistic that life is filled with loss, defeat, setbacks, upsets, and unmet expectations. In the wise words of ten-year iGnite member Louise Pincoffs, Life is a roller coaster so buckle up for the ride.” So, next time you encounter that option A is no longer available, research has shown that the next best thing is to resiliently jump on the option B roller coaster, throw up your hands and ride the sh#@ out of it!


Action Item:

Apply the Option B perspective and mindset to an area of your life where you feel discouraged or are facing unmet expectations.


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