Part One – Set Boundaries, Define Success, and Thrive

Disconnected and it feels so good! Vacation.  A sure fire way to get your priorities straight until you return to work.  Normally I hem and haw about disconnecting before I leave for vacation.  Take the work phone?  Pack the laptop? This time I decided to leave my phone and all my work angst behind.  I let work consume my free time quite often and have been working on myself to stop allowing that. In today’s world, vacation should be void of phones, power cords, and social media.  I used my travel time to start reading Thrive – The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post) in real book form.  Arianna Huffington was inspired to write this book based on her own experience with exhaustion and burn out and the need to live a balanced life to be successful.  The value of personal time, putting all devices away, and evaluating the true meaning of success were some of the topics that grabbed me.  I am only half way through the book and have so much to say so I am breaking my post up into two parts.

Today’s corporate culture will drive most people into the ground.  The demands and pressure placed upon all of us to perform continue to grow. Work creeps into our personal time and disrupts our down time when we allow it.  We are motivated by stress and this is becoming more apparent as as I listen to colleagues and friends, and read blogs, articles and books. The onus is on the individual to create boundaries between work time and personal time. I do believe executives need to be cognizant of burnout and the habits developed by diligent employees working to stay on top of all tasks, while dodging curve balls.  Personally, I question my team when I see weekend and late night email messages.  If you take a vacation day I really do not want to hear from you because it is your time not work time.  How can anyone be effective if overtired and burned out?  How can anyone thrive in today’s corporate environment without a well balanced lifestyle?  Thrive addresses this and has compelled me to add thrive to my vocabulary because that is what we all need to do.   Will this behavior help me thrive?  Will I thrive in this environment?  I read this book in a little bit of awe as I felt like several parts were written specifically for me. I have failed to set work boundaries for myself over and over.  I know what conference calls at 11pm are like (a zero on the fun meter).  I have fallen asleep behind the wheel of my car after months of burning the midnight oil.  I have had fuzzy decision making situations because of lack of sleep. Arianna Huffington has made me stop and look at what I need to do to truly thrive, whatever I am doing.

Though I realize one book is one perspective, I found it so interesting to read about women who left their executive suite jobs because they felt the “reward” for getting to the top of the corporate ladder was unacceptable.  I would say many people view success as something based on title, salary and job responsibility.  Is that really success? You did a great job so here is more work which means more hours, less sleep and conference calls with Asia at 3am?  Success linked to title and salary seems like an illusion for high stress, high demand and high pressure. I agree anyone should get paid a lot of money for high stress levels and crazy hours but is that really acceptable? Without question, some people are driven by pressure and stress, however, no matter who you are, at some point, it takes its toll on a person’s life and health. Thrive highlights some interesting case studies and statistics related to heart disease, obesity and other medical conditions linked to stress, the failure to disconnect, and live a balanced life. Nothing is served on a silver platter but to digest massive stress levels and spend the majority of awake hours tied to a phone or laptop seems less like success and more like a big picture exercise in futility.  As I turned the pages, I thought about two friends of mine who dedicated all their years since college to their former companies. One was on the fast track in a behemoth company, the other was a vice president in a PR firm.  Both are dedicated and driven and both sacrificed a great deal for their jobs in spite of mountains of stress.  Both ended up getting laid off in graceless, illogical ways (by my assessment, the decision makers were total weenies).  Squeeze every last ounce out of good people and then tell them to leave?  It is kind of like blowing out a candle.  Here today, gone tomorrow in spite of talent, knowledge, and capability. Thrive made me realize it is really important for each person to define personal success and to keep a balance between dedication to job and dedication to self.  I think I have been floating along with the “corporate” definition of success for too long and need a new state of balance in my own life.

To be continued - part two of this post will be available soon!  Thank you for reading!

If you want to read the book,  here is a link to Amazon.com:  Thrive – The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder

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