Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post and one of the most powerful women in media, says it is time to redefine the workplace. We need to add a third leg to the stool that measures success by money and power. Our personal well-being as an equally important metric. When we do that we’ll become more productive and our companies will benefit as well.
I know from personal experience that most of us are not there yet and our companies certainly aren’t. But each of can get there individually by visualizing that we are there already and our companies are sure to follow.
Women are the ones to lead this change Huffington told a full house at the Women of Influence lunch in Toronto last week. She went on to say that men will be grateful as the system they designed isn’t working. Companies are losing billions each year due to employee stress and absenteeism, most of which can be prevented. She contends that making employee well-being a priority is completely compatible with a healthy bottom-line in spite of the fact that many CEO’s believe otherwise.
One of the things that gets in the way of women’s well-being is our perfectionism, she stated. We need to learn that doing everything perfectly isn’t possible. Letting go of our own internal judgements removes our biggest stumbling block. She called this ‘the obnoxious roommate in your head’ that constantly puts you down and makes you double-guess all your actions.
Another great point was that women need to prioritize. “Did you know that you can complete a project by just dropping it?” she challenged the audience. Any project that you start in your mind drains energy, even if you aren’t actively working on it. When you make a decision to cut out things that don’t really matter you have more energy for the things that do.
She cited a personal example saying that she always wanted to be an expert skier but it took too much energy. So she completed that ambition by dropping it. Now she sits at the bottom of the hill, content to drink hot chocolate and read while her daughters navigate the slopes. She is happier and healthier for it.
Although she hasn’t specifically defined the third metric there are five elements she lists as key. Each of us needs to make health a priority; connect with our inner wisdom; find empathy; give to others; and maintain a sense of wonder about life.
It is no sense working around the clock if you are going to impair your own health. Who wants money and power if they haven’t the energy to enjoy it? Start by committing to get a full night’s sleep every night. You’ll be feel better and will make better decisions.
It is difficult to source your inner wisdom if you are always plugged into technology. If we want to connect with ourselves we need to take time to dream and to just be. Huffington says she has been meditating for many years and finds it an incredibly valuable way to disconnect with the many stressful issues she deals with each day.
In one of her blogs she stated that since Einstein, scientists have been trying to come up with the “theory of everything”. If they were able to do so she is certain that empathy and giving would be at the center of it. “With them we flourish; without them we perish”, she wrote. She’d like to see every human being know how others are feeling, feel their feelings along with them and then be moved to act.
So in summary, we should take care of ourselves and then take care of others. Huffington predicts it will cause a revolution in the workplace not unlike what happened when women got the vote. She encourages women to make it happen by starting with themselves, making their health a priority.
For the women at the luncheon the message was sound but many are mothers with demanding jobs and unsympathetic employers. This makes finding the time to jump on board very daunting.
Clearly women are inspired to make changes but need some tools to do it. In this spirit let me offer up a concept I have used successfully called “This is who I am, this is what I do”.
I heard this from a lecturer at Canyon Ranch, a health spa in Tucson Arizona. The lecturer was an occasional jogger who decided that she wanted to run a marathon. In order to make this a reality she changed her mindset and visualized herself as if she already were a marathoner. Then she started living her life that way as well.
When she came home from work and didn’t feel like training, she’d simply say to herself: “I’m a marathon runner. This is who I am, this is what I do.” When she went out to dinner and was offered desert, she’d say: “Thanks, but no thanks. I am a marathon runner. It’s not who I am. It’s not what I do.”
There’s a reason it’s so important to have a mindset for change: every time you have an argument with yourself, you will lose. It’s better to decide to do something and just make it a part of your everyday practice. It removes the argument, making it expected and routine.
Each of us can use this tool to improve our health. Start by making a commitment regarding your self-care actions. Then institute this tool to follow through. Our commitments will be as individual as we are- it could be taking time for yoga, getting more sleep, meditating or putting down technology when we go to the bathroom!
Making health a priority and connecting with our inner wisdom may not be where you are now but you’re sure to get there by visualizing that you are there already. Make the commitment and repeat the words, “This is who I am, this is what I do”. Better health will not be far behind. Can you see this improving your health and ultimately that of your workplace as well?