Monday, 30 June 2014

Redefining success

I started work in the 80s, the Thatcherite, loadsamoney, yuppy era when success was very clearly defined. It was primarily about money and, after that, power. When the decade changed, however, I clearly remember believing that the 90s would be different. We talking about the "caring, sharing 90s" at the ad agency, and, although "sustainability" didn't have quite the omnipresence that it has today, "green" was definitely on the agenda. I believed all this because I'd already seen colleagues in their 20s suffering from stomach ulcers, breakdowns and other stress-related illnesses.

In the 90s, I made a career move that wasn't incredibly clever in terms of money and power. I moved to a country where I could order beer but was otherwise clueless about the language, where Strategic or Account Planning was in its infancy in the ad agency world and where being a mother and having a career sat uneasily together.

But I gained so much more personally. This was followed by my decision to go freelance twelve years ago. I have found my own way and success on my own terms.

It's sad that not much has changed in thirty years in the way that Western culture measures success. And that there seem to be even more people suffering from burn-out and stress-related illnesses. Part of it, I am sure, is that many people have become slaves to technology - that double-edged sword that both simplifies and complicates our lives.

The latest book on the subject is from Arianna Huffington - Thrive. In it, she talks about the "money and power" definition of success as being like a two-legged stool. At some point you fall off. And that the 3rd leg of success is about Well-being, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving.

You may not be able to stop the world and get off, but you can certainly switch off the virtual world every evening.


Barbara Fisher said...

Hi Sue, my son and many of his friends suffer from stress-related illnesses it makes me very glad to be coming towards the end of my working life (not that I intend to stop for a good while yet) The Internet has been a boon and a curse to me, but I don’t think I could live without it now. ‘Thrive’ sounds like an interesting read, thanks for telling us about it. Have a good weekend, Barbara.

Sue said...

In one of her YouTube videos, Arianna H suggests we should "escort our devices out of our bedroom" - I'm happy to say that my mobile phone and laptop sleep elsewhere!