On 6 June 2013, The Huffington Post hosted its first ever women’s conference, ‘The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power.’ The conference was convened to address “the current (predominantly male) model of success,” which “virtually requires driving ourselves into the ground.”
Introducing the conference, Arianna Huffington asked, “What if as a culture we decided to make a dramatic shift? What if we decided to gauge success in terms of well-being, wisdom and the ability to make a difference in the world?” The conference featured speakers from business, media and wellness, and was aimed at “developing saner, more sustainable paths to achievement – for both women and men.”
When we associate success with money and power, we begin to believe that they are only as valuable as our income and job description. If I equate my intrinsic value with money and power, then I am going to spend a majority of my time at work. In this model of success, there is no room for illness, mistakes, accidents or vulnerability. We learn to hide weakness, and vulnerability turns into escapism: alcohol, drugs & other forms of numbness. According to Huffington, “what we need is a more humane and sustainable definition of success that includes well-being, wisdom, wonder, empathy, and the ability to give back.”
This is not about rejecting the institutional status quo, or doing away with the foundations of modern society that make our lives better, easier, and more comfortable. It is about broadening the idea of the ‘postmodern dream.’ It is integrating the ideal and the real; the personal and the professional; and the masculine and feminine.
This means that more money or power may not be as important as developing more authentic communication with colleagues. More money and power won’t necessarily add to the overall well-being of your family or the quality of your relationships.
Perhaps it is more ‘successful’ to exercise, be mindful and eat good food than to work through the lunch-break or late into the night. Perhaps success means reaching all of our career goals, but over a decade or two, rather than in the next five years. Perhaps a ‘successful’ person doesn’t necessarily want the top job because of the effect it will have on their family life.
What does the new success look like? The new success is balanced and inspired. It is slower and takes more time. It is considered and purposeful. It is less about immediate pleasure and more connected to the needs of the family, the community and the world.