Beyond Money And Power: What It Really Takes To Succeed
Ever looked up an old friend or colleague on LinkedIn or Facebook just to see where they are – and then find yourself satisfied if you deem yourself better off, or disappointed with yourself if not? In today’s world of comparison and competition, it’s no surprise that we measure success off external and social cues, and often times forget to question whether we are achieving so-called success at the expense of the other things (and people) that matter.
Traditionally, success has been defined in terms of money and power – think promotions, raises, bonuses, the privilege of working with the higher-ups – and of course comparing our status to that of our peers. Arianna Huffington proposes redefining success in a more holistic way. In order to truly thrive, she argues that we must go beyond money and power and work on elements related to personal well-being and fulfillment. She calls this the “third metric.”
I wrote about her concept of “leaning back” about a year ago, but since then Arianna has fleshed out this idea even more in her new book, Thrive. Last week she spoke at NYU about the details of her new book, and specifically the third metric. She breaks it down into four components:
After many years in a profession that rewarded around-the-clock work, eating lunch at your desk and answering emails no matter what time of night, this one hit home for me. The fact is, we make bad decisions when we’re burnt out – and we are much more successful at work when we take care of ourselves. And now we’ve got the studies and data to prove it (see Chapter 1 to get started!).
Arianna told us about her own wake-up call when she fainted and broke her jaw bone due to absolute exhaustion. She urged the audience to use her story as a cautionary tale, rather than wait for their own personal disaster to serve as the wake-up call to understand the importance of well-being and health.
This is all about being wise, not just smart – learning to be present, examining the addiction to technology (admit it – you sleep with your phone!) and giving up multi-tasking (as she spoke, there were still some people in the audience that were checking email, tweeting or otherwise playing with their phones).
I also loved this bit of wisdom about prioritizing. Arianna told us “You can always complete a project by dropping it.” She spoke about how we often times put so much unnecessary pressure on ourselves. In her case, she wanted to learn to ski and become fluent in Spanish. At some point, she decided that skiing was not a priority and she dropped it without any guilt. The lesson: It’s okay to change your mind and rearrange your priorities. If something is no longer working for you, there’s no need to finish it just because you started it. (hat tip to Mom who has always told me this!)
This one is all about bringing joy back to our daily lives, rather than delaying the fun and happiness for another time. Who hasn’t said they’ll have some fun or take a vacation after they get promoted, finish the project, etc.?
But by putting the joy back into our everyday lives, the stress becomes more manageable. It’s all about choosing your attitude, since while you can’t choose what happens to you, you can choose how you react to it.
As Arianna said:
Your eulogy has nothing to do with your LinkedIn profile. At your funeral, no one will talk about the deals you closed and the market share you gained – but they will remember the type of person you were and how you made them feel.
The science shows that giving doesn’t just make us happier, but it also decreases inflammation (which if left unchecked, leads to disease and health issues). So generosity doesn’t just feel good, it is actually healthy for us! I love the way she put it when she said:
We are wired to not just be go-getters, but go-givers as well.
Thrive is divided into a chapter for each of the third metric components, with suggested small changes at the end of each chapter. These small baby steps – 5 minutes of meditation, starting a gratitude list or taking a minute to connect with the cashier, can make a big difference – and put us on the right path towards achieving authentic success.