2017-05-24 / Columns

Searching for alternative options allows us to be at our best

FEDERATION 411
JENNIFER DUBROW WEISS
Jewish Federation CEO

When I get the chance, I enjoy reading each night before I go to sleep. I just finished the Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant book, “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.” I am a big Sheryl Sandberg fan, and often refer to her book “Lean In” in my work. I follow her on social media and enjoy her perspectives on life.

“Option B” discusses the loss of Sheryl’s husband in an unexpected and tragic manner, and how she and her children continue to face life without him. The book resonates with me on so many levels… in terms of loss of those we love, adversity from what life may throw our way, and the resilience in waking up and facing each day with loss and adversity as part of our journey. In the past 30 months, I lost my father suddenly, and my husband underwent heart bypass surgery, followed by sepsis and a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. I have had to face option B in an upfront and personal manner. There are days where I feel blessed to have had this loss and adversity—it has changed me and taught me the power of resilience. I am so fortunate to have had what I had and continue to have. Option B is not something that comes easy for most of us. Whether it’s personal or professional, option B has gotten too much negative press until now.

I am a planner. And while I always have an option B tucked away for every project, every campaign, and every budget, no one willingly chooses option B; it’s option A that I strive for and what guides my hopes, dreams, and potential outcomes for our community. But what a parochial perspective to have— there is just so much more to consider.

Every board president I have ever worked with has asked, “Do we have another option if this doesn’t work?” This is what is fiscally sound, and it permits us all to sleep at night. While reading Sheryl’s book, I realized the power of option B and the freedom and potential it provides for all of us. Option B means that we can seamlessly alter the course of our work when our goals, aspirations, or objectives are not being met. It means we can examine a different plan to achievement instead of giving up.

I have recently realized that I need to stop describing my days as “good” or “bad.” Every day has so many peaks and valleys, and I cannot define myself as the outcome of any of them. It’s not fair to my family, and it defeats my mood, my spirit, and goal-setting if I place a negative label on my day. This realization has put greater perspective on option B for me. When I feel things are not going “as planned” and my goals may not be achieved, I open my drawer and realize option B can also have an option C, D, or E—and that’s when my creativity and visioning becomes heightened. Option B can be an empowering force if we stop to consider it. Sheryl writes, “…communities of people generate new images of possibility.” This is what can provide hope and guidance when option A is no longer available.

Many options were explored before we built the Jewish Federation campus here at Springdale and Kresson Roads—and look where we are today! We’re celebrating 20 years on this campus and our Jewish community continues to thrive and grow around us! I thank each of the thinkers, dreamers, and vision-makers who brought us to where we are today…we are stronger because of all of you! The resilience of the Jewish people is tremendous, and what magical things we can do in the face of loss and adversity when we focus on acknowledging the lessons learned, the lives of those who have gone before us, and the legacies that help us rebuild and strengthen each other and our community.

 jweiss@jfedsnj.org

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