Long before women threw away their apron strings and entered the paying work force, we have been teaching our children that success is not predicated upon by the amount of money you make or the power that money may yield. Rather, we have taught our children that success is based upon creating, nurturing and sustaining healthy meaningful relationships. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that working women do not aspire to attain professional success as it has been defined by men, i.e., money and power. Women want success that incorporates a more holistic definition because we know that whoever dies with the most toys is not the winner!
Last week Arianna Huffington hosted a summit called: "The Third Metric for Success: Beyond Money and Power" where she discussed a recent Huffington Post blog she wrote that re-defined success. This discussion was inspired by the commencement speech she gave at Smith College to a young, all female student graduating class. Arianna re-defined the definition of success by speaking 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. This self-care includes all aspects of leading a fulfilled life which incorporates our physical and spiritual needs -- and if you talk to any women with young children - getting enough sleep so we are not walking around like the living dead all day long!
During her interview on the Today show last week Arianna explained what success is about: "It's leaning in and also leaning back, leaning back in order to unplug, recharge, and renew ourselves." I interpret this statement to suggest we must not allow our personal and/or professional roles and responsibilities be all-consuming that we lose sight of what really matters in life -- relationships! 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) feel completely exhausted and overwhelmed. We all know 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 to only drop dead at an early age from the stress the pursuit of money has created? 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 personal life goals that are realistic and practical, predicated upon our personal choices that cannot be measured by money. What constitutes success for one woman might not constitute success for another -- and that is perfectly fine! Success cannot be measured in a specific amount of dollars or a prestigious professional title. Success can only be defined on an individual basis that includes that most precious, priceless commodity of all -- healthy relationships. Success needs to have as its core our relationships to people -- not as an "add on" but at its core, and this includes our relationship to ourself.
However you go about achieving success, make sure it includes finding the time to do the things you love and to spend some part of each day doing what is important to you - with the people you care about! We often say we don't have time to take care of ourselves -- which is a code phrase for not loving ourselves -- so we don't take a vacation (or even a day off), we never find the time to get to the gym, we don't eat the way we want, we want to volunteer but something always gets in the way -- or any of the other things that will keep us healthy and connected to others -- I urge us all to re-think our choices. And then choose wisely!
Take the time to make it your priority to lead a successful life defined by how you take care of yourself, the people you love and the world at large, because professional success defined by money and power alone is not really success at all.
Remember, their is a reason nobody ever said at the end of their life that they wished they worked more!
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power" which will take place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.
Dr. Patty Ann Tublin, Relationship and Communication Expert
CEO & Founder of Relationship Toolbox LLC
Best Selling Author of: "Not Tonight Dear, I've Got a Business to Run!"