Meeting A Woman On A Mission: Arianna Huffington

Learning the message that we all need time for renewal in order to thrive.

Photo Credit: Judith Rodger

Photo Credit: Judith Rodger


Two weeks ago, I shook hands with Arianna Huffington. I don’t get very excited about Hollywood stars, but meeting Arianna Huffington was another story.   Meeting her really did get me excited, especially after hearing what she had to say to the crowd at The Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto two weeks ago.  I freely admit it – I gushed to her about how much I loved her message and how effective she was at delivering it. She was extremely gracious in the face of my gushing. I am sure she gets that a lot.

Arianna Huffington is a woman on a mission. She was speaking about her new book Thrive: The Third Metric To Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder.  Her mission is to help prevent her readers from having to experience burnout and the harsh wake up call she received, by sharing her experience and weaving science and ancient wisdom through her stories.  She wants people to understand that burnout and harsh wake up calls are not necessary for meaningful success. She wants people to realize that we need time for renewal, and that that is a good thing.   She described her book as a bridge between knowing what to do to thrive (most of us do know), and actually doing it (most of us don’t do it).

I read Thrive this summer and have listened several times to an interview Arianna did with Claire Zammit of Feminine Power, a fantastic course I took this summer.  Every time I listen to that interview I learn something new.  It is overflowing with wisdom.

I went with my Mum to hear Arianna. (My Mum was in town last week because she was about to look after our children so my husband and I could go away on a couple-time trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The trip was very much about renewal.  Hearing Arianna speak just before we left was extra inspiration for that.  I am very grateful to my parents for supporting us in this way!) As my Mum said, Arianna has gravitas. People listen to her – so that is why it is so exciting to me to see her on this mission. She could actually make huge positive change in the world in this arena, encouraging people and showing them how to define success in way that is meaningful to them, beyond money and power.   Her mission is closely connected with what my clients and I have been up to in the Making Room For You programs.

Arianna spoke to us about simple, but apparently revolutionary things in this day and age, like actually getting enough sleep on a regular basis. The test: can you wake up with an alarm clock? If yes, you are getting enough sleep.   I know there are many reasons, good reasons, why we don’t get enough sleep.  For example, children sometimes, often!, interfere with sleep.   But still,  I dare say, what Arianna was saying is not often said between the four walls of a business school. And I certainly don’t remember such conversations at my law school down the road!   When someone like Arianna advises and encourages us to get the rest we need, it has impact.  We feel like we can give ourselves permission to rest.   Ultimately, we have to be the ones to take responsibility for getting the rest we need.

I love this quote from Thrive:
Too many of us are fueled by the fear that getting the proper amount of sleep means we must not be passionate enough about our work and our life.

By sleeping more we, in fact, become more competent and in control of our lives. It gives new meaning to the old canard of women sleeping our way to the top.   Women have already broken glass ceilings in Congress, space travel, sports, business, and the media – imagine what we can do when we’re all fully awake. [!] p.80

Yes! Imagine!

Each chapter contains small doable steps we can take to move toward redefining success on our own terms, beyond just money and power.   One simple step Arianna recommends is get the rest we need.  As she said to us at Rotman, start by going to bed just a half hour earlier, or take a nap, or both.  We are allowed.

In talking about wisdom, our inner wisdom, Arianna pointed out in her speech that there is an incongruity between our values and what consumes us, in other words, what we spend our time on.   Again, if you have read many of my posts, you have seen me refer to the importance of acting in alignment with our values. There is a huge source of energy we can mine when we are congruent, inside to outside, values to behaviour. I have referred to this as “human spirit energy”.   Here’ a recent blog post of mine which expands on this subject: Want to Move From Dread To Enjoyment? Be Inspired By This Story
For more about Arianna’s speech that day, see this post by Rebecca Zamon, editor of HuffPost’s Canada’s Living Section:  Arianna Huffington On Why Every Human Being Needs Downtime.  You can also see many super short and powerful clips of Arianna speaking on this issues just below Rebecca’s post.

So, if we are fueled by good sleep and then also by the energy we get from acting in line with our values…we can be unstoppable!   As Arianna said in her speech:
From our centre, we can do anything.

I wonder, what would our world be like if more of us were getting the sleep we needed and made opportunities to tap into our inner wisdom (including our values) on a regular basis?

What about this post and Arianna’s ideas inspires and excites you?


Author: Milisa Burns

Milisa Burns is a certified professional coach, former lawyer and married mother of three, with her own website:

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