Co-Founder, President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group.
You wrote the book On Becoming Fearless… in Love, Work and Life. What tips do you have for others just starting out, or for those who want to take the leap but have been afraid to pursue their dreams?
Here are three pieces of advice I’d give to anyone just starting out:
- Don’t be afraid to fail.
- Don’t just go out there and climb the ladder of success. Instead, redefine success. Because the world desperately needs it.
- And finally, remember that while there will be plenty of signposts along your path directing you to make money and climb up the ladder, there will be almost no signposts reminding you to stay connected to the essence of who you are, to take care of yourself along the way, to reach out to others, to pause to wonder, and to connect to that place from which everything is possible. As Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world.”
In your new bestselling book, Thrive, you talk about well-being, wisdom, wonder, compassion, and giving. What do these ideals mean to you personally?
They mean a great deal to me personally, because my understanding of their importance emerged directly from my painful wake-up call. To live the lives we truly want and deserve, and not just the lives we settle for, we need a Third Metric, a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and includes these four pillars.
First, well-being: If we don’t redefine what success is, the price we pay in terms of our health and well-being will continue to rise, as I found out in my own life. And when we include our own well-being in our definition of success, another thing that changes is our relationship with time. When we’re living a life of what Harvard professor Leslie Perlow calls “time famine,” we rob ourselves of our ability to experience another key element of the Third Metric: wonder, our sense of delight in the mysteries of the universe, as well as the everyday occurrences and small miracles that fill our lives. And then there is the third indispensable W in redefining success: wisdom. Wherever we look around the world, we see smart leaders—in politics, in business, in media— making terrible decisions. What they’re lacking is not IQ, but wisdom. Which is no surprise; it has never been harder to tap into our inner wisdom, because in order to do so, we have to disconnect from all our omnipresent devices— our gadgets, our screens, our social media— and reconnect with ourselves. And the last element to the Third Metric of success is the willingness to give of ourselves, prompted by our empathy and compassion. If well-being, wisdom, and wonder are our response to a personal wake-up call, service naturally follows as the response to the wake-up call for humanity.
We know that stress and burnout can cause significant health problems. Substantive scientific evidence confirms that sleep, meditation, and relaxation dramatically help us all live healthier and happier lives. How did you start to integrate these into your life after your wake-up call?
We are living through an incredible time, when modern science is validating a lot of ancient wisdom. After my wake-up call, I started redefining my own life path and priorities, to include sleep, meditation, pauses, a focus on my breathing, and being more present in the moment. And much more importantly, this is an awakening taking place globally. We are entering a new era. How we measure success is changing.
I completely agree this is a new era. As we start to wake up and look for ways we can each change the world for the better, how would you suggest we go about creating a life of meaning and purpose?
Giving, loving, caring, empathy, and compassion, going beyond ourselves and stepping out of our comfort zones to help serve others— this is the only viable answer to the multitude of problems the world is facing.
Has Thriving impacted your political views?
Yes, but not in a left vs. right way. Washington is a town fueled by burnout and overwork, and we now know from science the negative impact that approach to life has on decision making. I believe the public would be well served if questions about how candidates plan to avoid burnout become a legitimate part of our political conversation.
Time is the most precious commodity for us all; how does someone in your position accomplish everything you do?
One of the things I promised myself when I turned 40 was to stop worrying about all the things I thought I might do, but never really would. Like becoming a good skier or learning to speak German. It was really liberating, and it freed me up to focus on the things I really love.
What superpower would you like to have for a day?
The ability to go to sleep instantly, since sleep is the superpower that fuels all our other super and non-super powers.
What’s the one vice you will never give up?
Coffee. Fortunately, for every article that says coffee’s not good for some particular health reason, there’s usually another one the same day saying it’s good. So I’m going to take advantage of the ambiguity for as long as I can!
Who or what inspires you?
My mother. She gave me a sense of unconditional loving. This meant that as I was going for my dreams, I knew that if I failed she wouldn’t love me any less. And that made me less afraid to fail.
For what do you want to be remembered?
I’m profoundly uninterested in my legacy, and much more interested in any impact I can have right now. In the end, raising two happy daughters, and countless small moments of connection with my friends, family, and loved ones over the years are all much more important than any sort of career highlight reel.
What charity or cause is closest to your heart?
I’m currently supporting Ignite Good, a nonprofit that highlights and supports Millennial changemakers who are taking ownership over the future through service.
What words of wisdom do you have to offer?
One of my mother’s favorite sayings, which embodied the philosophy of her life, was “Don’t Miss the Moment.”