The Roll Shere Guts Plays in our Daily Lives

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As people we often spend our lives yearning for success, some blaming dumb luck, while others hope their actions lead them to achieve success. Malcolm Gladwell’s article, “The Matthew Effect” within The Trident Reader, describes what he calls “outliers” and gives insights into why they became successful even with odds being stacked against them. (Gladwell 43) He also notes how successful people are not completely self-made and often rely on the luck of the draw in regards to when, where, and who they are born; because they inadvertently rely on people around them to provide them positive feedback and support systems. (Gladwell 43) another article that delves into success is Angela Duckworth’s, Showing Up, in which she suggests that success is synonymous with grit and grit is the combination of “passion and perseverance”(Duckworth 28-31). Because of Gladwell’s and Duckworth’s points of view, I sought out Sheryl Sandberg the current COO of Facebook, so in essence an “outlier,” although luck at times seems to be the factor for Sandberg’s success it is more partly due to her grit which gave her, a form with which to cope and help embrace fears while seating positive routines. (Gladwell)

At a first glance, Sandberg’s upbringing may seem like a product of luck and not grit, especially at times when overviewing Gladwell’s thoughts on what helps lead to success. Sandberg grew up in a normal home with supportive family members that would encourage her to be adventurous and do what she wanted. (Clark and Associates) One could also say that she was lucky in finding a job on Facebook before it exploded in the social market making millions. But those successes were not without their hardships and sacrifices. she faced economic struggles that had her taking lower than jr. positions at both Google and Facebook when she started. (Forbes) Then she worked her way up tooth and nail to do her best, therefore taking the luck out of the equation for it was her dedication that got her to the top. Sandberg did so when she sought out positive influencers in her life like Jim Breyer, Dave Goldberg, and Mark Zuckerberg and made interpersonal connections with them. (Forbes) Sandberg eventually took control of her life; she stopped letting others detract her from doing that which she loves to do, which at the time was living life at the moment whether it working for Facebook, being a mom, or a partner. (Rosen) She is in her current position because she took risks like facing her fear of confrontation, which we all face, for a position in google on a whim. After all, she just liked the company at the time. (Rosen) Then she slowly created a strong foundation of support through the years with the people she meet along the way, showing how luck has nothing to do with one’s support system when aware of who is around you. Intern leading one to choose who is worthwhile and who is a detriment nullifying the small window of advantages some have over others that Gladwell mentions. (Gladwell 47-51)

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Throughout Sandberg’s life, we can see that her grit helped her overcome the ever-increasing demands put on her in the workforce and private life. Being in the workforce in our current era puts ever-growing demands and with what seems like no break insight which can lead one to give up and ignore their basic humanistic needs. And Sandberg shows us her struggle with such a thing when she recapped in an interview a time in which she was pregnant, frustrated, tired and on top of that, she had to walk a far distance from where she parked to her job’s entrance door. (Forbes) Surprisingly enough she later informed and influenced a coworker to make and enact something they called “maternal priority parking” which gives pregnant women a closer parking spot to the building, effectively decreasing a hurdle pregnant women have to go through. (Forbes) She was willing to do what few would, even in today’s seemingly more liberal society, speaking up and being a catalyst of change which she simply did by ushering her voice would be one that was heard. Being wealthy did not inherently make her life any easier, if anything it makes it much harder. When Sandberg’s husband died she still had to be the COO of Facebook and mother to her grieving children. (Rosen) The gust takes for a person to reach that length and not completely crash and burn is astounding, to say the least. Just imagining if everyone in this world had that level of ferocity in regards to our willpower, what hardships couldn’t we overcome?

Sandberg’s “perseverance”, as Duckworth would suggest, helped her to achieve success by building a positive feedback loop with which she used to stay motivated and strong. Due to her success, she was frequently asked how she planned out her life to get to where she is now, to which she would reply with her method of long-term dreaming and an eighteen-month plan (Clark and Associates). Sandberg also did not let others’ negativity influence her because she will choose competent people with whom to surround herself. One of the many competent people she associated with was Jim Breyer who Sandberg took the risk for her future betterment.(Forbes) And that risk was working for Facebook a company that at the time was relatively new to the market of social media. that was notably one of her best decisions because it not only made her financially wealthy, it helped her find a good friend in her boss current CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg. (Forbes) So in essence using her short-term, long-term plans and seeking mentors keep her from straying off course into the realm of complication and self-doubt. while sacrificing potential easy pleasure for the hard-earned reward that comes by sacrificing those easy pleasures furthermore reinforcing that her success is based on her grit.

In addition, Sandberg accomplished various impressive feats by her means which more often than not frightens most and derails them from reaching their full potential. She earned the courage to face and fight her fears. to some, it may seem far-fetched to believe that incredibly successful people also fear things maybe even thinking about how they have it all. But having it all just means you have that much more to lose. And Sandberg was no exception Sandberg struggled with a very human emotion we all face fear, the difference with her lies with the way she just decided to do something about it. Sandberg notably stated she had many fears when working for Facebook even as the COO even reaching the point of questioning her competence and it was clearly seen when she said in an interview that “it is hard to shake the feelings of self-doubt,” but she overcomes it by adopting the old fake it until you make it method. (Rebecca). Another fear she faced was how was she and how it could affect her both in her personal and professional success. (Clark and Associates). Luckily she had her friends/mentors and husband who were incredibly supportive whom she could use as a source of an external sources of motivation.

Sandberg did not live a perfect life, for it was not all just sunshine and rainbows at the top echelon of business; she worked hard for her position all while embracing the fact that she is human and the conundrum of its ever-shifting limits. due to the hardships that come with success, most people just yearn to have it yet so few of them achieve it.  itAnd in saying that we can see that though Duckworth’s and Gladwell’s point of view Sandberg’s success, seemingly based on luck at times is in reality due to her grit which gave her, a form to overcome her daily strugglings while fending off her fears by surrounding herself with competent people who care and supported her. There is no denying now that Sandberg is a product of her own making so in saying that what are you the product of? And now knowing how Sandberg created her success I urge you to craft a world of your own making with the people that support you. 

Works cited

  1. Marsha Clark and Associates BOOK SUMMARY Lean In Women, Work and the Will to Lead By Sheryl Sandberg. 2013. Accessed 6 November 2018
  2. Rebecca J. Rosen, Sheryl Sandberg’s advice for grieving. The Atlantic, April 28, 2017
  3. Accessed 6 November 2018
  4. Forbes. #12 Sheryl Sandberg. 6 November 2018
  5. Gladwell, Malcolm. “The Matthew Effect.” The Trident Reader: Success essays, edited by the California acceleration project FIG, FountainHead Press, 2017, pp. 223-239.
  6. Sheryl, Sandberg. The Trident Reader: Success essays, edited by the California acceleration project FIG, FountainHead Press, 2017, pp. 241-269.
  7. Angela, Duckworth. The Trident Reader: Success essays, edited by the California acceleration project FIG, FountainHead Press, 2017, pp. 257-269.
  8. Bell, Hooks. The Trident Reader: Success essays, edited by the California acceleration project FIG, FountainHead Press, 2017, pp. 271-284.
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The Roll Shere Guts Plays in Our Daily Lives. (2022, May 04). Retrieved from