I recently heard Arianna Huffington speak in front of a group of 1,000 women. Actually, it was more like 950 women and 50 men. The event celebrated the release of the most recent edition of The Women's Book. The Women's Book connects women in business to local resources to advance their businesses, careers, communities and lifestyles. Their work fosters a centralized network of women's networks and information focused on advancing women in business.
The Women's Book is at the forefront of a shift in how women approach work and strive for balance. Huffington considers this the third women's movement (after voting rights and the Gloria Steinem-era movement) and has branded it the third metric. Positing that, "The current (predominantly male) model of success virtually requires driving ourselves into the ground," she asks, "What if, as a culture, we decided to make a dramatic shift? What if we decided to gauge success in terms of well-being, wisdom and the ability to make a difference in the world?"
Why is this something of interest to me, a white guy in his 40s living in Beverly Hills? The reasons are many. First of all, my mother was at the forefront of the second women's movement. She was not shouting at rallies, holding signs or demanding action; she was taking action and putting food on the table. She took a job in the early '70s in a male-dominated field on a part-time basis and by the early '80s was an industry leader. She helped knock down some walls so that my generation could start to figure out how boys and girls were going to play nicely together. Now, the third metric can take us from merely co-existing to thriving together in the workforce and beyond.
The second reason I am interested in the third metric is my wife -- a huge beneficiary of the second movement -- is struggling with her own desire to be perfect in every aspect of her life. She has a very successful career that she loves, two well-adjusted girls and a happy home life. However, the desire to be everywhere all at once is taking its toll on her and finding quiet time, space and peace is increasingly challenging. I am a cyclist and a big fan of Einstein when he said, "I thought of that while riding my bicycle." I have been telling my wife to find out what her "bicycle" is, but is that really fair? When will she find her "bicycle," let alone ride it? In between flights, meetings, work events, LA traffic, dance practice, school events, parent meetings, being the class mom, nurturing an adolescent daughter and a pre-adolescent one as well? The desire to grow two girls into happy, fun-loving women that will contribute meaningfully to society has eclipsed her ability to find peace. There is a better way. The third metric will help get her there.
This leads right into the third reason I want this movement to become pervasive. My daughters are 9 to 12 years away from entering the workforce. The steps we take now as leaders, thinkers, workers and community members will set the tone for their generation. Burnout should not be something that they know about when it is their turn.
As you can see, I do have a "dog in this fight." In addition, I am a businessman myself. I think it is critical and a tribute to the first two women's movements for men and women to work together. Selfishly, how can I be successful if there is a "disconnect" between how half the population works with the other half? Transparency, open communication and the desire for this movement to work are what it will take. Notice I did not say money. I believe that, for the most part, the resources are already in place to make this happen. Transparency, communication and the desire for change will leverage the existing resources to bring about this cultural shift. What an exciting time!
What am I doing? I am engaging with with my family to put systems in place so that quiet time can be more easily attained. We are not there yet, but we are getting closer. I am working with my clients and colleagues to help them figure out what they need to have their space to think, be and breathe. I have joined the advisory board of The Women's Book and work with their management to help them achieve some peace as well as find ways to push the movement forward by starting conversations like this... and right now... I am going for a ride on my bicycle.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power," which took place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.
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