William Butler Yeats once wrote, 'Bring the balloon of the mind that bellies and drags in the wind into its narrow shed.' For me, that is what the Third Metric is doing and why I am such a passionate believer that the time is right for this revolution.
As an avid Facebook user, I have been struck recently with the sheer number of 'inspirational' quotes, photos, images and feelings that my friends have been sharing with me and all of their friends. Barely a day goes by without someone urging me to 'dance like nobody's watching,' etc. To me, it's clear that women everywhere, and most men too, are searching for meaning and validation. They're not posting images of sports cars, designer clothes or Rolex watches. They're responding to quotes or images or homilies that are drawing out deep emotions within. Things that they feel on a visceral level. Money and power are all well and good and I resent no one for aspiring to them and the trappings these can give you. But I don't think they should be the main representation of a successful life. It is impossible for everyone to be rich and powerful. You are only rich and powerful when you are compared with others who aren't. So how can that be a reasonable definition of success? That definition requires the vast majority of people to be failures, and we're waking up to that fact.
But redefining success is potentially scary and even threatening to others out there. If we look at a man in his sixties who has worked long into the night to provide for his family and sacrificed many of his own wants and desires in order to achieve financial stability and some measure of control over his professional destiny, should we now define his life as a failure? Of course not. The Third Metric should be about being inclusive and recognizing that successful lives are varied and different.
I've recently been going through a very challenging time in my own life, both professionally and personally. I gave up a steady but extremely unfulfilling job at Christmas without a thought as to what would happen next. I assumed I would find more work easily, but that has been far from the case. The people closest to me railed at me and scared the shit out of me. Their fear for me and what might become of me meant I doubted my every action. And time and again, I have come up against barriers 'proving' that those people were right and I was and am stupid. Yet deep down inside me, my very core of me rejects that. I'm not a stupid person and my life is not defined by the fact that at the moment, I have very little money and no power at all. I'm in the throes of one of life's experiences. It's a painful lesson, but I believe it will be a valuable one. Mostly, I believe that because I feel I have lost a huge measure of the fear that has previously stalked my life. I'm without those measurable, quantifiable markers of a successful life, and I'm still all good.
We really do only live once. To live that life in the well-worn furrows of those who have gone before us is tempting and seems so much easier. There's reassurance and safety in numbers and if everyone tells you that you need a BMW, a managerial title and designer shades in order to have done it right, then you don't question it. It's only when rightly or wrongly, deliberately or accidentally you 'come off the rails' that you find yourself seeing things rather differently. I'm making my life around me gorgeous without those trappings. All around me are things that are beautiful and experiences that are wonderful. I'm going to dig in my little garden and let the earth crumble in my fingers. I'm going to fall asleep on clean, well-worn sheets that I've had for years and sleep deeply and well. I'm going to nourish myself and my friends and family with the best food I can create and I'm going to laugh and be easy with all those I love. If I achieve this, but never manage to save up for my kitchen extension, I think I'll still go back to wherever we all sprang from with a light heart and a feeling of a life well, and successfully, lived.
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.