It’s been two years since Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, tragically lost her husband, Dave Goldberg, to a heart attack. Since then, she has been a symbol of hope and resilience in a world that’s increasingly in need of those two things.
Giving the keynote address at Virginia Tech’s graduation ceremony, Sandberg spoke to the outgoing batch of 2017 about building collective resilience.
You will have good days and you will have hard days. Go through them together.
Sandberg spoke of people complaining about ageing, and said:
This is the year Dave doesn’t turn 50. Either we grow old or we don’t. No more jokes about growing old. Every year, every moment, even in the pouring rain, is an absolute gift.
Sandberg adds that people aren’t born with resilience. “It’s like a muscle, we must build resilience and hope,” she added.
We all need our posse. When you leave this place, you’re gonna have to go out and build your own posse, and that would mean asking for help.
She describes how she was compelled to ask for help after her husband’s death.
My mom stayed with me for the first month, literally holding me as I cried myself to sleep. It takes strength to rely on others.
Sandberg breaks down in the middle of her speech, telling the students not to offer help in a generic way – something she used to do before she lost her husband.
When you ask “how can I help?”, that question shifts the burden to the person in need. You don’t have to do something huge, you don’t have to wait for someone to tell you exactly what they need... that’s how collective resilience works. We lift each other up.
“We are more vulnerable than we ever thought, but we are stronger than we ever imagined,” she says, choking back tears. “To hatred, division and loss of hope, we say ‘no way, not today’”, she adds.
You can watch her entire speech here: