3:30 PM EDT, September 27, 2013
I'd like to thank everybody who participated in HuffPost's conference last week on The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money and Power. It was our first women's conference, and it was also the first event held in my new apartment -- a nontraditional but very rewarding housewarming. I'd especially like to thank my incredible co-host, Mika Brzezinski. She was the perfect partner and proof that, even when putting on a stress-inducing conference about stress-reduction, you can be calm, graceful and wise.((
And though we haven't completely altered our culture's definition of success yet, I think it's safe to say that the conference itself was a big success. It truly felt like we had captured a moment.
In putting together the event, we originally invited people who had written or spoken out about Third Metric themes, from work-life balance and how to live more sustainable lives to redefining success and finding fulfillment at work and at home. But as word got out about the conference, people not normally associated with these themes began emailing both me and Mika and saying how much they'd been thinking about these same issues. So, clearly the conference and its theme of redefining success beyond money and power to include things like well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving back had touched a nerve.((
And for those in attendance, or following via our live blog, it was great to hear others' thoughts and perspectives on these issues, to share their journeys, their epiphanies, their stress-reduction and mindfulness techniques, and to hear about the moment when they knew they had to change their lives. It was, as we'd hoped, somehow larger than the sum of its parts. And the conversation is continuing.
But this is just the beginning. We didn't want to just start the conversation -- we wanted to start the process of changing habits and changing lives. Of course, changing habits is not easy -- it requires diligence and resolve. So as we go forward, I hope we all -- both those who were in attendance and anybody else who's interested in redefining success -- will find ways to remind each other of the need to recharge and renew ourselves. We know we all agree on the broad issues, but knowing something intellectually is different than embracing it emotionally and, most importantly, acting on that feeling.((
That's why the conference felt so satisfying. We're constantly being pulled away from our real priorities by technology and work and what we think we need to do in order to succeed. It's very easy to lose sight of what truly matters; that's why it's helpful to regularly connect with others, articulate our thoughts and fears, and try to ingrain new and healthier habits in order to dislodges the stubborn and unsustainable old ones.((
Of course, I want to emphasize that redefining success isn't just for those at the top of the corporate or political ladder. Sen. Claire McCaskill, in particular, brought up the fact that we should also be mindful of those working three jobs -- because the destructive definition of success we're living (and dying) under affects people at every social and economic level. Those with the least resources are also the ones with the least leverage to insist on policies that allow for any kind of work-life balance.((
And, more broadly speaking, by redefining success we'll end up with leaders better able to make better decisions -- which, of course, affects everybody. For example, we'd have leaders less likely to make the sorts of terrible and short-sighted decisions that led to the financial meltdown, and led to the misguided decision to respond to the ensuing crisis with austerity measures. I realize not all bad decisions are the product of a lack of mindfulness; at the same time, it's hard to consistently make good decisions without it. As President Clinton once said, "Every important mistake I've made in my life, I've made because I was too tired."((
Another big theme of the conference was the value of giving back and how important that is -- not just to the recipient but to the mindset and well-being of the giver. That's one reason why we were thrilled to announce at the conference that we have raised $1.3 million, in our partnership with the Skoll Foundation and Half the Sky Movement, for Raise For Women, which aims to help female-focused charities around the world. Making that total even more satisfying, 80 percent of the donations were for $100 or less.((
We were also treated to a sublime performance by the Grammy Award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari, who has collaborated with Kanye West, Jay Z and Alicia Keys -- and can now add headlined a success-redefinition conference to her resume. It might have also been the first conference to feature 15 minute breathing interludes, led by the wonderful Joan Witkowski.((
If anything strikes you, please build on it and keep the conversation going, using the hashtag #thirdmetric. Let us know how you're redefining success in your own lives, what hurdles you're facing, how you're overcoming them (or not), and what your thoughts are about work and life and family. It's time to redefine success. A lot of people know it, a lot of people feel it, and now it's time to make some real progress -- so that our next Third Metric conference can be even more productive.
(Arianna Huffington is president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group. Her email address is email@example.com.)
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