The third metric for success


In the summer I always go through a non-fiction phase. I’m easy to spot at the beach: amidst a crowd of tan-hungry, light readers holding paperbacks adorned in bright illustrations and catchy titles, I’m the one holding a book with someone’s face on it and a one-word serious heading to top the cake. And I don’t budge from under the umbrella.

So this summer, I let my teeth sink into Arianna Huffington’s Thrive, which had me nodding at various points while reading it. In fact, I ended up underlining so many bits from the book that it ended up becoming a central part of my conversations with friends as I’d whip out my Kindle to quote this and that. The premise of the book is simple: Huffington questions our present-day definition of success — it can’t just be measured in terms of money and power. She claims that there is a need for a third metric for success, which consists of four pillars: well being, wisdom, wonder and giving. She divides the book accordingly and dives into each of those sections and explores the extent of contribution each makes to making individuals more fulfilled and able to succeed.

Being connected in a shallow way to the entire world can prevent us from being deeply connected to those closest to us — including ourselves.

– From Arianna Huffington’s “Thrive”

She peppers the book with great quotes from artists, philosophers, poets and many more and substantiates many of her points with her own experience and with established literature. As such, each of the four sections is broken down to smaller sub-sections that are frequently broken up by interspersed quotes that link to the writing. Though I found most of the quotes great, this kind of disjointed reading made for an awkward reading experience; I often felt like I was reading a series of articles stringed together rather than a cohesive whole.

Huffington goes into great length in discussing technology and our dependence on technology, and in fact extols technological detox — a point that reverberated well with me. Paradoxically though she claims that sometimes the help we need to get away from technology comes from technology, and proceeds to give a list of top apps that help remind us to disconnect an X amount of time per day. This kind of digested, watered down writing, of lists and quotes only helped draw my attention to the fact that this is a format familiar to me from extended online reading. I expect a bit more from a book; if I’ve picked it up to read, it doesn’t have to be broken down into smaller bytes to get a point across. I can handle it, thanks.

 Ours is a generation bloated with information and starved for wisdom.

– From Arianna Huffington’s “Thrive”

Despite these minor quirks, the book is quite reflective in its tone, and this is what I liked best because it also invites the reader to self-reflect. The anecdotal stories help to ring truth to her points and illuminates a more personal Huffington, whose name has almost become a metonymy for success. The stories also make what she’s saying easily relatable to any reader. There is much to digest in this short book, and a great list of follow-up reading provided in the extensive bibliography, and this is purposeful. “Whatever you entry point is — embrace it” she writes in the epilogue. And if there’s one thing certain, it’s that everyone can find an entry point in this book. If anything, it will provide you with great quotable material and an involuntary self-evaluation that may or may not end up changing how you live your life.