Yesterday, Arianna Huffington was on national TV discussing her recent Huffington Post blog, which was inspired by the commencement speech she gave at Smith College. During this speech she urged the young, all female graduates to re-define the definition of success and she spoke of a “third metric” that must be added to what it means to be successful.
“Don’t buy society’s definition of success,” she said. “Because it’s not working for anyone. It’s not working for women, it’s not working for men …” She referred to a more holistic definition of success as one including a “third metric” – where success is not solely defined by financial wealth and power. Rather it encompasses the totality of a healthy life based on our “well–being, wisdom, our ability to wonder, and to give back.” I view this definition of success as overwhelmingly defined by positive relationships – within ourselves, within our community & within our environment. It includes taking care of the people with whom we interact with everyday, and perhaps most importantly, taking care of ourselves, on all levels, including making sure our physical and spiritual needs are met.
During her interview on the Today show yesterday morning, Arianna said success is about: “It’s leaning in and also leaning back, leaning back in order to unplug, recharge, and renew ourselves.” In other words, we must not allow our personal and/or professional roles and responsibilities to allow us to lose sight of what really matters. If we are running around like a chicken without a head all day long, we will, at the end of the day – or the end of a decade – be completely exhausted. We all already know that we are totally stressed out with this stress taking a toll on our bodies. Working women experience an inordinate amount of stress-related illnesses that men have experienced while chasing the false gods of money and power: increasing heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers etc. What is the point of making a ton of money and dropping dead at an early age from the stress the pursuit of money has caused? Or amassing extraordinary wealth only to feel the sting of alienation from the lack of real intimate relationships and friendships?
Therefore, it is critical we re-define success based upon our own life goals that are realistic and practical, predicated upon our personal life choices. What constitutes success for one woman might not constitute success for another – and that is perfectly fine! But whatever your definition of success is, make sure it includes allowing you to find the time to do the things you love! Find the time to do what is important to you! When you say you don’t have time to exercise, eat right, take a vacation (or just a day off), volunteer or any of the other things that will keep you healthy and feel connected to the others – re-think your choices. And choose wisely. Take the time to make it your priority to be successful in all areas of you life, because professional success alone is not really success at all.
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