Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder – focuses on the value of relaxation and taking a step back from your career in order to be more successful at it.
The inspiration for Huffington’s fourteenth book came from an incident in 2007. In March of that year, Huffington woke up on the floor of her office in a puddle of blood. She had pushed herself to the limit, working constantly and not getting enough sleep – and as a result she had passed out and hit the corner of her desk. She broke her cheekbone and needed five stitches on her left eye.
That moment was a wake-up call for the media mogul.
The fall proved to be a moment of clarity that caused Huffington to reevaluate her priorities in life. She told Bloomberg Businessweek, “I had to slow down and reevaluate the choices I was making. The reality was I couldn’t do it all.” Eventually, she came to the realization that one of the choices she needed to change was how she chose to define success. She had been focusing on the acquisition of money and power, but at a great personal cost. That fall caused her to realize that personal health and well-being needed to play a larger role in her understanding of success.
Huffington explained, “Over time our society’s notion of success has been reduced to money and power. In fact, at this point, success, money, and power have practically become synonymous in the minds of many. This idea of success can work – or at least appear to work – in the short term. But over the long term, money and power by themselves are like a two-legged stool – you can balance on them for a while, but eventually you’re going to topple over.”
That third leg – which Huffington calls the third metric of success – is something she defines as well-being, our ability to draw on our intuition and inner wisdom, our sense of wonder, and our capacity for compassion and giving. None of these are things that people traditionally think about in measuring success, but as Huffington sees it, we need to redefine success.
In Thrive, she writes, “It is very telling what we don’t hear in eulogies. We almost never hear things like: ‘The crowning achievement of his life was when he made senior vice president.’ Or: ‘He increased market share for his company multiple times during his tenure.’ Or: ‘She never stopped working. She ate lunch at her desk. Every day.’ Or: ‘He never made it to his kid’s Little League games because he always had to go over those figures one more time.’ Or: ‘While she didn’t have any real friends, she had six hundred Facebook friends, and she dealt with every email in her in-box every night.’ Or: ‘His PowerPoint slides were always meticulously prepared.’ Our eulogies are always about the other stuff: what we gave, how we connected, how much we meant to our family and friends, small kindnesses, lifelong passions, and the things that made us laugh.”
To achieve that third metric and create a better kind of success, Huffington advocates for meditation, completely unplugging from electronic devices, taking real vacations, and – most importantly – getting enough sleep. In fact, she has actually installed nap pods at the Huffington Post office. She doesn’t just write about her values – she actually implements them in her own life and the lives of others.
So what are the take away lessons from Arianna Huffington’s success story? Most importantly, make sure you are seeking the right kind of success. If you seek a version of success that will make you miserable, all your achievements will feel hollow.