Jacque Matsen is the Public Affairs Manager for DuPont Pioneer, where she oversees external communication efforts to give the company a voice on critical food and agriculture topics. She also represents Pioneer on industry coalitions, including the GMO Answers program designed to address consumer questions about biotechnology. Jacque is an Iowa native with degrees in journalism and political science from Iowa State University.
It might seem counterintuitive to begin a book about living life more fully with a reference to eulogies, but it has the desired effect in Arianna Huffington’s 2014 bookThrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. She challenges you to stop and think about defining yourself differently. To value what kind of life you lead, instead of what job you hold, and what kind of person you are instead of how many hours you work. This shift in focus to eulogy-worthy attributes rather than resume-worthy ones is a theme Huffington returns to frequently.
It took collapsing from exhaustion for Huffington to realize she was viewing and pursuing success all wrong. Now, through her book and speaking engagements around the world, including a keynote at the Oct. 28 Transforming Journeys Central Iowa Conference, Huffington is encouraging others to Thrive. She describes thriving as a “Third Metric” of success and suggests it is essential to balance out the traditional metrics – power and money – which have become our two primary measures of success as a society. Women, Huffington says, are at greatest risk from pursuing the traditional definition of success. She cites alarming statistics that show women with stressful jobs have a nearly 40-percent increased risk from heart disease and a 60-percent greater risk of diabetes.
Huffington’s book is organized into the components of the “Third Metric”: Wellbeing, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving. Each chapter includes convincing evidence about the perils of neglecting these aspects of our lives, but Huffington also includes hopeful stories about the individuals, companies and governments that are getting it right. In doing so, she elevates new kinds of leaders for us to admire – ones who take care of themselves, invest in others and make a difference in their communities.
One of Huffington’s key messages on wellbeing is to get more sleep. This sounds simple enough, until you see yourself in the struggles Huffington and her friend faced trying to make good on a New Year’s Resolution to get more sleep. Again, Huffington points out that women are particularly susceptible to sleep deprivation because we feel like we have to work extra hard to prove we belong, which ironically, makes it harder to be mentally sharp and perform. Huffington provides a number of tips for getting enough sleep, and motivation for adding just 30 more minutes of sleep per night: “Women already have broken glass ceilings…imagine what we can do when we’re all fully awake.”
Our addiction to hyper connectivity is another compelling theme throughout the book. The average smartphone user checks their device every six-and-a-half minutes, according to Huffington, which is about 150 times a day (or immediately after reading this post…). It may seem hypocritical that Huffington – the 24/7, online media maven – lauds the benefits of disconnecting, but maybe the fact that even she has found some balance is encouragement that the rest of us can, too. Huffington suggests setting a specific time at night to disconnect, storing/charging your devices somewhere other than your bedroom and resisting the urge to check your phone first thing when you get up.
We probably already knew that our lives were out of balance, but Thrive provides statistics and stories to support our instincts and simple steps for making real changes. After all, as Huffington points out, we still have time to live up to the very best version of our eulogy.