What is success, really? That’s a question iconic media leader Arianna Huffington has raised in our culture lately, provoking discussion and change among many people who are rethinking their approach to success. Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and founder and CEO of Thrive Global, will present a keynote speech on “Redefining Success: The Third Metric That Can Benefit Your Bottom Line” at the Leading to Well-Being Conference on Friday, April 7th. As the Communications Coordinator for George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, I helped plan the conference. As a contributing writer for Thrive Global and longtime fan of Huffington, I’m especially looking forward to her speech there. Here’s an article I wrote about the conference for Mason. I hope it will inspire you and motivate you to join us!
The first two metrics of success are those traditionally associated with rising to the top of a career: money and power. But, according to Huffington, there’s a third metric that’s even more meaningful, and that is “based on well-being, health, our ability to unplug and recharge and renew ourselves, and to find joy in both our job and the rest of our life.”
Well-being – more than anything else – leads to real success, Huffington wrote in her bestselling book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. In the book, she advised: “Don’t just climb the ladder of success – a ladder that leads, after all, to higher and higher levels of stress and burnout – but chart a new path to success, remaking it in a way that includes not just the conventional metrics of money and power, but a third metric that includes well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving, so that the goal is not just to succeed but to thrive.”
Huffington’s message is spot-on for leaders who are trying to cope with the stress and burnout that pervades many workplaces. People don’t have to look far to find examples of what’s not working well for leaders. “Whenever we look around the world, we see smart leaders – in politics, in business, in media – making terrible decisions. What they’re lacking is not IQ, but wisdom,” Huffington wrote in Thrive. “Which is no surprise; it has never been harder to tap into our inner wisdom, because in order to do so, we have to disconnect from all our omnipresent devices – our gadgets, our screens, our social media – and reconnect with ourselves.”
The process of changing for the better begins by clarifying what people truly value the most. In Thrive, Huffington challenged leaders to consider, “Why do we spend so much of our limited time on this earth focusing on all the things that our eulogies will never cover?” By learning well-being practices that help people focus well – such as mindfulness, exercise, and sleep, people can discover what they really care about the most, and set goals that focus on those values.
One well-being practice in particular – sleep – is a struggle for many people in this age of widespread insomnia. People often work so hard that they can’t relax enough to sleep, which leads to a myriad of health problems. So Huffington tackled the sleep issue in her latest bestselling book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time. “By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are,” she wrote in the book. “And in that place of connection, it is easier for the fears and concerns of the world to drop away.” People can improve their ability to do every task in both their professional and personal lives by simply sleeping well. “Everything you do, you’ll do better with a good night’s sleep,” Huffington has remarked.
People who neglect their well-being often do so because they think that investing time taking care of themselves will make them less productive at work. Ironically, many research studies (some of which Huffington will discuss in her conference speech) have shown that making time for well-being practices actually leads to greater productivity in the workplace. Not only is well-being good for people’s health and relationships, it’s also good for companies’ bottom lines. That’s because employees often work to their fullest potential when they’re taking good care of themselves. Huffington has often talked about how her own work improves when she’s paying attention to her well-being. “I’m much more creative when I’ve actually taken care of myself,” she has said.
As people incorporate well-being practices into their lives, they’ll build the inner strength of resilience that is crucial for success as in any type of leadership role. Challenges and crises will hit all leaders on the job. Uncertainty will lurk in the background of all workplaces. Even leaders who try their best will sometimes make mistakes. In light of all that, Huffington has commented, fear threatens to overwhelm leaders – but resilience empowers them to move forward with courage. “Fearlessness is not the absence of fear,” she has said. “It’s the mastery of fear. It’s about getting up one more time than we fall down.”
Join Huffington, Dr. David Rock, and more than twenty other leadership experts and researchers presenting at this year’s Leading to Well-Being Conference on Friday, April 7th by registering now. The focus that day will be on exploring what it takes to build resilient teams, leaders, and organizations, and how to prosper during times of great challenge, change, and uncertainty.