EVERY day, news releases and books cross my desk that promise success in all sorts of areas — getting a job, getting a better job, managing your employees, managing your boss, managing your relationships. Today’s New York Times ran a piece on a recent event aimed at redefining what REALLY matters:
“Some are interesting, some are ridiculous and many are repetitive takes on the same theme. But recently, I came across two items that, separately, talked about an issue I’ve tackled before in one of my columns — questioning what we actually mean by success. That column, which appeared almost a year ago to the day, discussed how we shouldn’t always aim for the extraordinary, but celebrate the ordinary. It was one of my most popular articles ever.So I was intrigued when I was told that a conference was being held on the very issue of redefining success. And, separately, that American Express had recently released a study showing that Americans were thinking of success in different ways than in the past.
“The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power” was the conference presented last week by Mika Brzezinski, host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of the Huffington Post, at Ms. Huffington’s new apartment in TriBeCa (some 200 people squeezed into her living room).Panels, covering topics ranging from “Managing a Frenetic Life” to “Wellness and the Bottom Line,” featured a number of prominent people, among them the actress Candice Bergen and Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Obama. The message, one that Ms. Huffington is promoting in her publication and in speeches, is particularly aimed at women. “The way we define success isn’t working,” Ms. Huffington said at the conference. “More, bigger, better — we can’t do that anymore.”The concepts seem a little fuzzy at times, but the overarching thesis is that it is time to rethink the common wisdom of how to achieve success: sleep four hours a night, work 20 hours a day, see your family rarely and never admit the need for downtime.
“That system is wearing us down, Ms. Huffington said. In her commencement speech this year at Smith College, she told students, “If we don’t redefine success, the personal price we pay will get higher and higher. And as the data shows, the price is even higher for women than for men. Already women in stressful jobs have a nearly 40 percent increased risk of heart disease and a 60 percent greater risk for diabetes. “Right now, America’s workplace culture is practically fueled by stress, sleep deprivation and burnout,” she said. The answer? To create a movement that embraces the idea that physical and spiritual wellness — from meditation to exercise to good nutrition — are integral to, not separate from, a successful life.”