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In Our Pursuit to Become Women Leading, Are We Instead Becoming Women Worn Out?

How many of us have worked too long and too hard, at the expense of our friends and family, convinced that we had no other option?

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To kick off the school year, and to introduce our theme for the year, I want to start with a story that is currently in the news. Some of you may know that just last week, Arianna Huffington sent an open letter to Elon Musk. For those of you who don’t know her, Ms. Huffington is the Huffington Post founder, the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, and the author of 15 books, including, most recently, Thrive and The Sleep Revolution.

Elon Musk, as many of you already know, is a business entrepreneur, investor and engineer. He is the founder, CEO, and lead designer of SpaceX; the co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; the co-founder and CEO of Neuralink; and a founder of PayPal.

So why would Arianna Huffington send an open letter to Elon Musk? Ms. Huffington admires and respects Mr. Musk, not only because of his big picture vision, but for the passion he shows for innovating and changing the world. But recently, Musk’s tweets and his New York Times interview caught the attention of many of us. And, they raised some red flags for Huffington, who two years ago launched Thrive Global, a media platform whose mission is to change the way we work and live.

Through Thrive Global, Huffington wants to put to rest once and for all, the delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success. So, in her public letter to Musk, she asserts that working too hard has not only harmed him physically and emotionally, but it actually has diminished his success.

When Tesla struggled to meet production goals, Huffington and many others noted that Musk’s behavior became increasingly erratic. In a New York Times interview, he spoke in deeply personal terms, admitting that “This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career. It was excruciating.” Overcome by emotion, he admitted that “There were times when I didn’t leave the factory for three or four days — days when I didn’t go outside. This has really come at the expense of seeing my kids. And seeing friends. From a personal pain standpoint,” he said, “the worst is yet to come.”

How many of us, right here at Castilleja, have worked too long and too hard, at the expense of our friends and family, convinced that we had no other option? In our pursuit to become Women Leading, are we instead becoming Women Weary, or Women Worn Out?

Huffington acknowledges that Musk is under tremendous pressure to lead. She also makes it clear that the world has never needed leaders more; but we need leaders who are thriving not wilting! That is why, this year, to ensure that your leadership in and out of the classroom has room to blossom safely, we will strive to thrive. With guidance from Huffington’s Thrive Global, we will take the time to wonder; we will grow in wisdom; and we will tend to our well-being. We each will find the key to thriving; and we will fulfill our purpose – to take our places as responsible leaders!

Welcome to the new school year – a year of Women Learning; Women Leading; Leaders Thriving!

Nanci Kauffman, Head of Castilleja School; delivered to students and faculty on August 23, 2018.

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