I must admit that I am a huge fan of Arianna Huffington. I like a smart woman and she certainly fits in that category and I like a trailblazer, and she certainly fits into that category as well.
A few weeks ago I caught an interview with her about how out of whack her life had gotten a few years ago.
It had gotten so bad that she actually fainted (and cut her head on the way down) from sheer exhaustion, prompting her to step back and make some major changes in her life.
The result is her new book Thrive, which is a nice bookend to the book I discussed a couple of weeks ago, Greg Marcus' Busting Your Corporate Idol.
Both books point to the need to create and celebrate a third metric for defining success in one's life, one that is different, though complementary, to the current societal definitions of success: power and money. In fact, she likens success to a three-legged stool. If we only have power or money, the stool will eventually topple over, because we will be missing our health, our spirituality and our sense of community.
Huffington divides the third metric into four pillars and discusses each in depth in the book:
- giving back
For those working long hours and who will continue to work long hours, this book is a must, as like Marcus' book, it offers practical advice to help add balance into one's life.
The book is well written and thoughtful, and cites a myriad of research to back up her arguments.
Huffington spends a tremendous amount of the book discussing the need for sleep and critiquing the current cultural obsession within the workplace of bragging about how little sleep one gets or needs.
The impact that lack of sleep has on one's health and one's decision-making ability is discussed at length and it should give anyone pause.
What the book really is, however, is a call to action, especially for women. Huffington argues that the current work world simply isn't working and that it is up to us all collectively to define a new way of working that is more humane. In a recent interview with Time magazine, Huffington discusses this:
There are lots of new books with advice for young women. How do you think young women should navigate that push and pull between starting a family and ramping up their careers?
I think you will see the leadership for implementing this third metric begin in smaller companies and in the private sector in general, who often better understand the connection between healthy happy employees and profits and who are more likely to buy in when they see the success of other companies adopting these practices.
I also think you will see it in younger people who, as Huffington notes above, having seen their parents tied to the workplace 24-7, are choosing more and more to eschew promotions in favour of a life that allows them to go home at the end of the day without responding to email all evening or reading and writing reports.
My experience in the public sector was that there is lip-service paid to wellness programs, but the combination of workplace attrition and the pressure to produce results in short periods of time makes balance nearly impossible.
For myself personally, the section that really spoke to me was wisdom. During my career, I would see experienced workers retire or be replaced by younger employees, who were under tremendous pressure to produce results and advice. Bosses would expect information to be pulled together rapidly - wasn't it all available online anyway? - and synthesized into quality results within hours.
But reading data, and having the experience to understand that the data might not tell the whole story are two different things. I saw more and more bad decision-making, typically the result of rushed or flawed logic. We have become instantaneous workplaces and just because we have information does not make us masters of it. I think as more individuals retire we will see an increase in these bad decisions for awhile, not because the younger people are not as smart as their retiring counterparts, but because they will face increasing pressures from their CEOs to provide instant advice.
She also talks about digital detoxes and i think I may increase my time away from the computer, as my friend Naomi has recently decided.
I really recommend this book, and I also recommend checking out the third metric section on Huffington Post.
As I said when I reviewed Greg's book, had I read this or Huffington's book, I might have implemented some changes that would have averted burn out and one of those things I would have implemented was saying no.
Have a great Tuesday and stay safe out there!