Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thrive!


Way back in 1993, when I finished grad school and set off to make a mark in the banking world, I was filled with oodles of energy, enthusiasm, and unbridled ambition. The job market wasn’t all that steamy, but I believe my optimism helped me land a management trainee job at a large, regional bank. I was on my way. 

Way to what?

Twenty-some years later, now in the midst of a career as a CFO for a small, community bank, that question still niggles at me. Have I "made" it? Would my twenty-three-year-old self think I made it? Maybe. Maybe not. Financially stable. Check. Respectable position. Check. But there's also a palpable waning of energy from years of maintaining a hard-driving pace. With that in mind, what do I believe success looks like?

Aho. Along comes the estimable, prolific Arianna Huffington and her book Thrive.

I had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Huffington and her adorable accent at a conference a few years ago. She campaigned on the importance of sleep, which I already happen to be an expert on since my nightly routine consists of 7-8 hours of serious slumber, as confirmed by my Fitbit. Even though I don't suffer from sleep deprivation issues, I was impassioned by her cause. You would've been too. Arianna is so darn smart and funny and doesn't act like she’s one of the most influential women in America. She's relatable. Perhaps that’s her secret.

Her book is written in her same, distinct voice, sans the European accent. Casual, conversational–peppered with anecdotes as if you’re having a latte at some cozy NY coffee shop. Yet, the insights and quotes drip on the pages with profundity.

Anyway, Thrive is a book about the true meaning of success. Ms. Huffington is obviously fluent in the traditional notions of success: money and power. My twenty-something self would have been easily impressed with Huffington's achievements in those arenas. But then comes the emptiness. “Thrive” explores and debunks how working hard to achieve financial wealth and social stature doesn’t equate to happiness. We need more. Ms. Huffington introduces the “Third Metric”—a formula which lead to true fulfillment.

The third metric explores four tenets: well-being, wisdom, wonder and compassion. She delves into each of these areas usually starting from a wide angle lens, then zooming into granular details to provide specific actions to improve your life. Some of the advice seems obvious, but Arianna more than proves her point by backing up her insights with real data. That's her genius. We become compelled to really consider departing from our devices. And sleeping better. And meditating. And absorbing the beauty of a goldfinch.

There’s much to take from this self-help book. It’s one of those books you read with a highlighter and a post-it, so you can refer back to those sections which speak to you. There's also a handy appendix to provide resources for some of the recommended actions that aren't so easily achieved–like meditating. (I don't know about you, but I pray Jesus forgives my ADHD during prayer time. I definitely need guidance when it comes to meditation.)

I planned on loaning this book out to a few of my friends and relatives—especially my daughter before she left for college. But selfishly, I couldn’t quite give the book up. I've held on to it, carrying it around and referring back to it. I'll often open it up to some random page and find a useful quote. For example, there's a section called "Go-Getters are Good; Go Givers are Better." I think this means I should give this book out as gifts. Perhaps the best compliment you can give an author is your desire to offer it to others. I’m sure Arianna would appreciate my glowing review.

I bought Thrive in search of rejuvenation. Not only did I find it, but I found something better: enlightenment.

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