We get so caught up building our career, become so busy chasing success, that we neglect to take time to follow up with friends. We don't make it home in time to have dinner with our loved ones, we never say "thank you" to an employee for a job well done and we are far too busy for a family vacation or a trip to see our ailing parents. We don't spend time mentoring others, we have no involvement with charity organizations and we don't go to the gym, much less "stop and smell the roses." So, in the end, are we really successful?
When I embarked on my career in retail years ago, my only focus was on becoming successful and what that meant to me at the time was putting in long hours, working hard and mastering my craft. So, I set out on a mission. Day in, day out, I lived and breathed my work, and functioned on very little sleep, all with the intent of climbing that ladder of success.
I found myself neglecting my friends, and I certainly did not making time for family, because I was too busy flying all over the world, all for the sake of building my career. There were mornings when I would wake up not knowing what city I was in, and if it weren't for the hotel wake-up calls to remind me of where in the world I was, my life could have been torn from a page of the illustrated classic, Where's Waldo? Even that didn't stop me from moving at a lightning pace. I loved every minute of my job, no two days were the same, and each day brought new challenges.
It wasn't until six years ago when I was in Italy and received a phone call that my dad had passed away that I received a reality check. I had just arrived in the airport, and did not thin twice about returning to New York. The guilt of not spending enough time with dad overwhelmed me. I knew at that moment that I had to slow things down, so I began making time for friends and family, but although the pace was slower, I still didn't listen to that inner voice that spoke of balance.
They say that sometimes, you have to fall on your knees to really make serious changes in your life, and sure enough, two months after the death of my dad, my mom passed away. That was my turning point.
Coming from Guyana, South America, the things that were important while growing up, such as spirituality, spending time with family, having a balanced life and going at a much slower pace, were all things I neglected because I couldn't figure out the way to master it all and build a successful career.
Suddenly, with the loss of both parents in two months, I knew something had to change. The first place I started was getting back to the spiritual side, so I became a member of St Patrick's Cathedral. I decided that sitting in the first or second pew would force me to sit through Mass as opposed to making an escape in the middle of service. I made time to exercise every day, because it gave me clarity and helped me to become more productive at work. I became a mentor for kids who needed help focusing on achieving goals. I've a board member of a charity organization call "March to The Top" because the key should always be about giving back. When traveling on business trips, I set aside a couple of hours to take in the sites of the cities wherever I am. I now make time for friends and family, I always say, "thank you," to employees for a job well-done and I really do appreciate smelling those roses now.
We all need to take the time to redefine success. There's that little voice inside of all of us which acts as our conscience. Take nothing for granted, live life the way you would like to be remembered and as we enter this third metric, remember that money and power can't buy health and happiness.
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 will take 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.