Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Women share wisdom

Have you heard of The Third Metric women's conferences? Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program co-hosted the first such conference last summer and are continuing that work with three events this spring. The two women (and a long lineup of speakers) are interested in defining success in a new way. So far the two metrics to measure success have been money and power. These two women have opened a conversation to seek a third metric.

Brzezinski and Huffington are particularly interested in changing workplaces because they see the current work-till-you-drop-then-get-out-of-the-way working environments killing people. Not only is this work culture not working for women, it's not working for men either. These women seek a definition of success "that includes well-being, wisdom, wonder, empathy, and the ability to give back."

So many good quotes emerged from presenters at the first conference. One I especially liked was from Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive and refers to the pressure we women put on ourselves and that's been put on us as well: "I hate the phrase 'having it all'—no one has it all, and trying to is the surest way to make yourself feel like a failure. I try to think of it as 'having what matters.' What matters to me right now are my family and my work."

And Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior said: "The important thing to remember is it's not about balance; it's about integration ... really focus on making sure you're integrating all four aspects of your work, your family, your community and yourself. And it's not about trying to spend equal amounts of time on everything you do each day on each of these things, but making sure you're paying attention to all the things that make it up as a whole human being."

I don't know about you, but I intend to follow this conversation. I think these women are on the right track. And the more we share our questions and our wisdom, the more transformation we can bring about.


  1. While I appreciate the general thrust of the post and of the discussion that it refers to, I respectfully disagree with Ms. Leive. I wonder if it would be more productive to consider that we all "have it all." If you're able to read this blog post, understand the concepts of "balance of life," and how we REALLY should be thinking about integration and not balance, you probably already "have it all." You know how to read. You can do arithmetic and could probably learn higher-level mathematics if you put your mind to it. You're aware of things like "life coaching." You have access to a computer or smart phone and the ability to use it to read blogs and posts like this. You have enough food, clothing, shelter and whatnot to spare a few minutes to read and ponder a train of thought like this one.

    More significantly, you have 24 hours every day to use as you want. Locked in? Burdened by a job and family and a calendar that routinely shows you double and triple scheduled too many times in a week? Or a day? Uh... excuse me, but if we're talking about having it ALL, doesn't that include all the shitty stuff too? Or do we really mean "I want it all, EXCEPT for the parts that I don't want?"

    We're hard wired for struggle, which is good because in my experience that’s pretty much all that life is. Are we struggling for or toward something that's worthwhile to us or just what someone told us we should pursue? Too much of my life has been spent in pursuit of the latter. And as I approach my 60th birthday and the expectation of embarking on the seventh decade of my life later this year, I've been reflecting on that a bit lately.

    Maybe I'll make some changes in my life. If I do, I'll probably piss someone off. I'll probably hurt someone that I didn't intend and don't want to hurt. I'll probably make mistakes and have a messes to try to put right somehow. I LOVE that. I’ve been given 60 effing years to participate in this grand, cruel, beautiful, absurd phenomenon called life. I get 24 hours every day to worry, and struggle and prod and encourage and learn and forget and hurt and flail and seethe and cry and laugh and… you get the point. And the absolute coolest part of this... I HAVE THE SAME AMOUNT AS EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET!!!!. Neither Bill Gates for all his money, nor Ted Cruz for all his cynicism, nor any TV preacher for all their self-righteousness, nor the smartest person you know for all their intellect... not one other person has one second more to use today than I do.

    Twenty-four hours every day. Until the day I don’t. Maybe I should stop and go figure out the most constructive, satisfying things I could do with the time that’s left today. Thank you for the post that helped me think about what I really do have! Best wishes to everyone!

  2. Thank you for adding your perspective to the mix. I suspect you and Ms. Leive mean something different by the term "having it all" (I think she's feeling the pressure of that defined as "doing it all" as a woman). She may not argue your point about accepting the bad with the good. Surely that is part of life. I surely hear you. I think your point is well taken, and a question we might all ask ourselves in relation to your point about having food, clothing, etc., is: How much is enough? We definitely have so, so much in our country and culture. And we do each have the same number of hours in a day. Many of us even have a choice as to how we spend it, though I suspect people in poverty don't see much choice in their lives. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation and giving us food for thought.

    I've always wanted this blog to be a conversation. So I appreciate you for expressing your thoughts.