Arianna Huffington on Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder
On Monday I had the opportunity to attend the Chicago Network’s 25th Annual Women in the Forefront Luncheon. The Chicago Network (www.thechicagonetwork.org) fosters meaningful connections among Chicago women business leaders to encourage dialog on important issues concerning the advancement of women in the workplace, the exchange of ideas and information and the recognition and promotion of achievement, and cultivates the next generation of women leaders in Chicago.
As they shared at the luncheon, with women not projected to reach economic parity with men until 2084, their work is important work to advance us towards that goal.
Their keynote speaker at the luncheon was Arianna Huffington, Chair, President, Editor-In-Chief, The Huffington Post Media Group. Her 14th book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder was published last month by Crown, and was the focus of her presentation at the luncheon.
Her message that the way the world is designed isn’t working resonated with the crowd. Her question ‘Is it really true that we’ve accepted that being burned out and tired is the price to pay for success?’, and her comment that ‘There’s no trade-off between getting to the top and taking care of ourselves’, had people in the room nodding in agreement.
She spoke about the three main constructs that she covers in her book: Well-being, Wisdom and Wonder, and about how those are equally important in our definition of success as are the traditional constructs of power and money. In fact, she pointed out, even more so!
- Well-Being: 75% of healthcare costs are incurred related to chronic and preventable diseases. We pay employees for their judgement; not their stamina. The point isn’t to be there twenty hours a day; it’s to be doing great work when you are there. An enhanced focus on well-being, including sleep, exercise and well-being, yields greater success for all by increasing our ability to perform optimally.
- Wisdom: The more connected we are with our own strengths and wisdom, the more resilient we are and able to handle life’s challenges.
- Wonder: Allow room for wonder and joy in your life. Who you are is not defined by your job.
Arianna also shared some tips for starting to build a better life of well-being, wisdom and wonder.
- Have a set time where you turn off your electronic devices at night, and store them someplace other than your night-stand. Don’t allow yourself the temptation of checking your devices if you wake up in the middle of the night – it interferes with your sleep patterns.
- Don’t make checking your email the first thing when you do when you wake up in the morning. Take a moment to focus on yourself first.
- Change one key bad habit first. Then others become easier to change.
My initial reaction to the luncheon was mixed. On the one hand I was delighted to have the opportunity to hear Arianna speak, as I had not had the chance to do so before. She is indeed a fantastic speaker – smart, funny, engaging, a great role model, extremely credible of course, and not afraid to challenge the status quo. I was also extremely happy to see such a packed ballroom – we could barely move in there. With every place setting having a salad plate with slices of Ahi tuna as the focal point, one can only imagine the size of the tuna they had to catch to feed all those people, and one could certainly appreciate the amount of dollars the Chicago Network raised through an event like this. Dollars that can be put to excellent use as they continue to make a mark on the cause of advancement of women.
On the other hand I struggled with the theme and focus of the event. If this was their 25th anniversary, and if this was their big annual event, I struggled with reconciling what I felt was a lost opportunity to shine the light on how large the gap still is with regards to advancement of women, the work we still have to do to close that gap, and where we have seen ground-breaking and innovative approaches being adopted that are helping us venture into new territory in this arena which can help to advance the pace of change.
Leaving the event, I gave up on the idea of catching a cab and decided to walk instead. There were probably fifty or more people in line for a cab, it wasn’t raining, and I had wisely brought along my walking shoes just in case things transpired this way. As I headed out walking north on Michigan Avenue, I struck up conversation with a lady who was headed in the same direction. It was extremely interesting to talk about our different reactions to the event. I obtained another data point when I got back to my client, who has also been to the event. Three of us; three different reactions. Then I found myself talking to others about it over the next day and a half, as I continued to mull over the range of expectations, impressions, and ensuing dialog.
By late Tuesday afternoon I had come to a few realizations and conclusions. The biggest of which was this: there were almost two thousand people in the ballroom on Monday. Two thousand people! That’s a lot of people, and what do people do? We talk! We go back and we share and we spread the word. Therein, I believe, lies the power of what the Chicago Network and Arianna Huffington have accomplished.
Arianna started out her presentation by talking about the three revolutions that women have had. The first women’s revolution gave us the vote. The second women’s revolution has started to give us access to every job and the ability to get to the top of every field. We may not be all the way there, but boy have we made some progress. Then she spoke about the third women’s revolution that is still to come. That as women we don’t necessarily want to get to the top of the world; rather, we want to change the world! Arianna’s message was about how we can change that world, and the role that women can play in changing the world.
So much of the time we take care of everyone else first and put ourselves last. We sacrifice our own well-being, wisdom and wonder for the benefit of others. If all the people that were in that ballroom yesterday go out and dialog around the issues Arianna touched on, that’s a lot of conversation, a lot of groundswell, and lot of momentum to raise issues in the workplace that affect everyone’s ultimate success and the definition of success, for both women and men. It was a powerful reminder that sometimes, with the right voice and the right influence, change isn’t always driven only by tackling the most obvious issues, but also by shining the light on related issues. Thank you Arianna for making us think about some of those related issues, and creating the spark to ignite the conversation around them. Here’s to Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder!