We have been living under a collective delusion for a long while now that burnout is necessary for success, that if you really are serious about succeeding, building a company, climbing the career ladder then you just have to accept that’s going to require burning the candle at both ends as we say and all-nighters, not taking care of yourself and not really often having time for your loved ones or time to wonder at life or to give back. So basically that your life would shrink down to this To Do list that you consider essential for achieving your goals.
The great thing about this moment we’re living through is that we now have conclusive scientific findings that prove this delusion wrong. And the scientific findings validate ancient wisdom about the importance of renewal and regeneration if we are going to be our most productive and most creative, not to mention our healthiest.
The Third Metric of Success
I decided to write Thrive because seven years ago I had a wake-up call. At two years in to building The Huffington Post I collapsed from burnout, exhaustion, and sleep deprivation — hit my head on the way down, broke my cheekbone, and got four stitches on my right eye. And as I came to in a pool of my own blood I started asking a lot of these questions that we often stop asking after we leave college, like, what is a good life? What is success?
And in the process I came up with a conclusion that although I was conventionally successful by any sane definition of success, I was not successful. And that’s what started me looking at the need to redefine success beyond the first two metrics of money and power to include the third metric of success, which, for me, is like the third leg of the stool without which we cannot have a sustainable life. And that third metric consists of the four pillars that make up the book – well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.