Why Just Survive... Thrive at Work

We are each different, and the way we choose to Thrive can also vary. There were so many takeaways from the Thrive conference, but, for me, what resonated is how "connected" we all are. This inhibits thinking and seeing the forest from the trees.
05/02/2014 03:31 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2014

"How do you do it?"

"What, do you work like 24 hours a day?"

"I received the email you sent at 4:30 a.m."

"You look tired."

Not only are these actual statements to me by coworkers and family, but these were comments I heard throughout Arianna Huffington's and Mika Brzezinski's presentations at the Thrive conference this past week.

The premise of Thrive and the Third Metric is simple: We need to redefine success beyond money and power. We are too tired and preoccupied to really live the lives we want, but there's hope if we focus on the four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.

I have to say I was eagerly anticipating attending Thrive in New York. As I prepped and headed out to the cocktail reception, my eagerness turned to a bit of anxiousness. I've read Arianna's On Becoming Fearless, and the focus is on women's empowerment, but Thrive is different. Although the Third Metric is designed to counteract the man-made rules of business, its premise applies to us all -- women and men.

As a human resources professional, I am constantly called on to solve issues, to be a diplomat, to enable and help people see the path through a challenging time -- whether personally or professionally. It's been a deeply rewarding career but one that comes with a price. I recall in the days following 9/11 (and working down on Wall Street), I had invited a psychologist to assist and be available to our employees returning to the office for the first time in three weeks. We were all under stress, and I recall her comments to me that were also echoed at the Thrive conference: "You are like a bank; people are coming to you, asking for your help and withdrawing from you. A bank cannot survive if there are only withdrawals, and likewise, you need to recharge yourself."

So it's no surprise, when Arianna asked the packed audience, "How many times do we put others first before ourselves?" I said quietly to myself, "Yes, I do this every day." I will fight for others but do little, sometimes, to champion my own causes. Then Mika asked the audience if any of these phrases hit a chord with them, "How many feel stretched too thin?" "How about focusing on that one bad thing that happened versus all the great things that happened in the day?" My responses to both were, "Yes and yes!"

There were so many takeaways, but, for me, what resonated is how "connected" we all are. This inhibits thinking and seeing the forest from the trees. For me, and I'm sure this resonates with so many others, my clarity usually happens at 2:30 a.m. I find I can be dealing with an issue during the day which I cannot solve or find the solution to, but without fail, the answer will come to me at 230 a.m. But I want to stop waking up at 2:30 a.m.

So what are some practical, simple and low-cost steps employers can implement to help their employees Thrive? Here are a few:

1. Recharge: Allow employees to recharge, and encourage them to use vacation days. There are so many studies that show a revitalized employee is a productive one.

2. Respect people's time: As a manager, help employees prioritize work. Weekends and after hours disruptions should be minimized. ᅡᅠ

3. Re-energize: Invite training courses on yoga, meditation and life coaches into the workplace.

4. Reflect: The work day can be a crazy, chaotic mess. If someone has gone out of his or her way, stop to say thank you. It's amazing the power these two words possess.

5. Rethink processes to develop better efficiencies that would allow employees to use their brainpower on more value-added assignments.

Bottom line: We are each different, and the way we choose to Thrive can also vary. Just find what works for you and helps you lead the life you want.