As we all strive to be more productive at work, we have to be careful not to let our professional aspirations and our usage of technology interfere with our personal lives, relationships or our health. With 2019 just getting underway, it is important for all of us to ensure that we take time be present, be aware of things going on around us and not get so distracted we miss out on being human.
What do I mean by that? Well, a chance meeting many years ago led me to this very special episode of the What’s Next! podcast, where I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Arianna Huffington. You may know Arianna as the Co-Founder and former Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, but she’s so much more than that. She’s an prolific author, mother, and holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from Cambridge, and is currently the Founder and CEO of Thrive Global, a company striving to end the stress and burnout epidemic.
Our professional careers are a major pillar of our lives — our job gives us purpose, a reason to get up in the morning, and helps us define our identity.
In our professional life, connectedness often equates to the feeling of constantly being on call and thinking about work. Staring at our technological devices can make us not only less empathetic but less likely to connect with others. Sure, it’s true our devices make it easier to work, but there is a downside – the feeling of always being at work leads to one thing: burnout.
Arianna says more than once in this episode that we’re at an “inflection point.” Being ‘hyper-connected’ is adding to stress in our lives, impacting our health and even our overall awareness of those around us. Change is happening faster than humans can keep up with. However, where we end up depends on us.
- Are we going to be wise and choose how we lead our lives?
- Are we going to seek out joy and creativity?
- Are we going to take care of ourselves and our fellow humans?
- Or are we going to play games on our phones instead?
From her own experience, Arianna found herself with a very personal wake-up call. One day in April 2007, two years after launching The Huffington Post, she collapsed from exhaustion. She was working so hard to build her site she physically pushed her body to its limit. In her ambitious effort to achieve success, she worked herself to the point of breaking down, literally. She collapsed in her office, hit her head on her desk, broke her cheek bone, got four stitches on her right eye and was lucky not to lose her eye in the ordeal. That experience changed the definition of success for Arianna, and that story is a stark reminder that in our quest for pushing boundaries and achieving our dreams, we also need to care for our most important asset: ourselves.