Arianna Huffington is on a quest to redefine success and change the way we work. Though change is needed for both men and women, Huffington says, it's women who will get this movement off the ground.
"I think women are in many cases going to lead the way, because men have designed the way the world works right now, and it’s not really working," Huffington said in an interview with The Huffington Post Canada. "It’s not working for women, for men, or for polar bears. So we need to redesign it, and women have a great opportunity to do that."
In her new book, Thrive: The Third Metric To Redefining Success And Creating A Life Of Well-Being, Wisdom And Wonder, the president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, suggests alternatives to our work culture that lead to stress and burnout. Telecommuting and project-based work, which allows workers to structure their own time while working to a deadline, are increasingly common and sought-after new alternatives. Everyone from stressed-out CEOs to hyper-connected Millennials starting out at their first jobs could stand to benefit from a more flexible workplace.
Huffington was recently in Toronto to participate in "In Conversation: Heather Reisman and Arianna Huffington," a talk with Indigo Books' CEO, who is also HuffPost Canada's editor-at-large. The pair discussed the challenges of trying to do it all, redefining success beyond money and power, and the four pillars of the Third Metric philosophy: well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.
It's not that those at the helms of countries and major corporations aren't smart, said Huffington -- it's that they're not always wise. And while Canada might be doing some things right, we still have a lot of work to do.
"I think in a way, Canada is kind of ahead of the United States in recognizing the importance of combining a life of striving and a life of thriving," Huffington told HuffPost Canada. "At the same time, both Canada and the United States are in transition. The entire world is in transition, away from the collective delusion that burnout is the only way to succeed."
Canada's women may be particularly at risk for burnout. Women are still doing more housework than men, the Globe and Mail reported in 2013, but they're also increasingly the breadwinners in the family.
Couples in which the woman earns more than the man have almost quadrupled in the last 30 years, totalling more than 30 percent of all pairings, according to Canadian Business. But womens' advancement can come at a cost, and often, it's the woman's physical or mental health.
"If we don’t take care of ourselves, because we think we’re superwomen and we can handle everything, or we’re a martyr and we put everybody else first, in the end we’re going to burn out," Huffington told HuffPost Canada. "We’re going to be stressed and we’re not going to be as loving as we feel and as we want to be."
According to Huffington, self-care means everything from getting enough sleep to making sure you have five minutes of quiet alone time each day (and more, if you can!). Huffington also emphasized the importance of living in the moment, whether that means recognizing beauty in the little details or letting go of the grudges that hold you back.
Huffington didn't shy away from the comparison to that other popular recent moment targeted toward working women, "Lean In," whose author, Sheryl Sandberg, is thanked in the acknowledgements for Thrive. Although the two philosophies appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, they actually complement each other, Huffington points out.
"When you thrive, you are better at leaning in," she said. "There is a French expression that I love, Reculer pour mieux sauter, which vaguely translated means, 'Lean back in order to jump higher.'"
"Thriving doesn’t mean not working hard. It doesn’t mean not having big dreams. It doesn’t mean not wanting accomplishments," Huffington said emphatically. "It means recognizing that we also need respites. We need breaks. We need pauses in our lives. We need renewal. Even God took a day off after creating heaven and earth and all the seas. So if God could do it, surely we can."
Arianna Huffington and Mika Brzezinski will be hosting "Thrive: A Third Metric Live Event" on April 24 and 25 in New York. Tune in to HuffPost Canada for a live-streaming of the conference.
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