How journaling helped Sheryl Sandberg lean in

As one of the most powerful women in the world of business, Sheryl Sandberg is expected to be meticulous in her work.

It’s no surprise that she starts each day with the same practice – recording and documenting her activities in a spiral notebook.

Like other world leaders that reflect, Sheryl jots down and then scratches out a list of 10-minute meetings as well as tasks that she gets through.

Through this dailyself-reflection, she is careful to maintain a “to-do” list that is carefully penciled out, rather than recorded in a digital calendar.

Becoming Facebook’s COO

Sheryl Kara Sandberg, born on August 28, 1969, has a list of impressive achievements to her credit – tech executive, activist, author and billionaire.

Currently, she wields the title of chief operating officer (COO) of Facebook and founder of She was vice president of Google’s global online sales and operations and launched its philanthropic arm,

She had also been chief of staff for the US Secretary of the Treasury, Lawrence Summers.

As of 2 April 2019, her net worth is estimated at US$1.6 billion.

How Sheryl Sandberg keeps her journal?

Sheryl Sandberg is upfront about not being “born with a fixed amount of resilience”, but that it is a “muscle” can be built.

That is why she is firm about self-reflection and is involved in building up an online community to get people to reach out, express gratitude and move towards self-development.

At the end of the day, Sheryl jots down three things she achieved during her day, and three things she is grateful for.

Her consistent habit of self-reflection, gratitude, documentation, sharing and communication are definitely her positives, as they beam light on a way to emerge from her inner void and move towards self-development.

How long has she been doing it?

Journaling has always been important to her. I had always wanted to journal, she once said. However, it was only after she lost her husband in 2015 that it became a constant.

As she put it: “But when Dave died, I just journaled. I sat at my computer for hours and wrote and wrote and wrote. If I didn’t write for two days, I felt like I was going to burst.”

How self-reflection has helped her success?

Sandberg’s journey towards healing began when she wrote a journal as a Facebook post.

She did not intend to share it, but suddenly, after self-reflection, she decided to. I’m going to post this because things aren’t going to get worse. They might get better.

She found that the practice helped a lot of people who had lost close relatives to stand by each other and express gratitude. It did not take away the grief, but it took away a bunch of the isolation, she said.

Her journal entries collectively laid the bedrock of self-development and her Option B book.

Sheryl Sandberg try to find meaning

She also turned to social media for connecting and through emotional honesty, which are usually avoided. It’s not that everyone wants to share everything at all times, but we really leave people alone when we need them the most, she said.

Pushing through challenges

Sheryl Sandberg divorced her first husband in 1994 after just one year. In 2004, she married Dave Goldberg, another big gun, but lost him in 2015 and went through intense grief.

Self-reflection helped her to reach out and connect for self-development. She wrote: I have the deepest respect for people who provide hands-on help to those in crises.

However, she has been the subject of a number of criticisms. Her expression of being acutely aware that the vast majority of women are struggling to make ends meet and take care of their families, and that she wanted to offer advice has been slammed.

Critics like even Michelle Obama are scornful of her willingness to actually lean in. She is seen as “the architect of the business model that is now the subject of so much scrutiny, has remained silent in public.”

Moreover, Sheryl has been slammed in public over Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s violation of privacy norms and its involvement in scandals as well as lies related to Cambridge Analytica.

What does the future hold?

Although Sandberg is facing intense attack and calls from the public asking her to “resign”, she is showing exceptional grace under pressure and letting self-reflection to take her through. She has seen the height as well as the nadir of success.

Through self-reflection, she seems to be the right candidate to emerge from her dark cloud and reinstate herself through self-development to the public.

Not budging from her stance, Sheryl Sandberg will always be remembered as a woman executive with exceptional foresight, calm and strength.

How you can get started with self-reflection?

Learning from Sandberg, we can learn to think of challenges as temporary.

Looking for an easy way to get started with your self-development practice? Daylitude can help shift your mindset, increase positivity, and discover a greater connection with yourself.


Interested in other self reflection and gratitude practices?