Can Success be defined beyond Money and Power?

Power and MoneyPower and MoneyThere seems to be a growing interest for many to ponder the question, “Can I define success using anything else beyond the traditional measures of money and power?”  So much so, that an entire day of panel discussions were organized by Arianna Huffington and Mika Brzezinski focused on “The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power” in a cozy setting at Arianna’s place on June 6th.  The interesting part was that it was a conference for women.  There were a few of us men allowed into the conference who they jokingly labeled as, “Men who get it.” Click the image below to see the conference schedule along with the panelists.

The Third Metric

You can also get a detailed coverage of the various sessions of the conference at the Huffington Post’s web site

There were several interesting comments and insights shared during the sessions that caught my attention.  Listening to them also sprung a few questions.  I am going to share their comments along with my observations and questions in no particular order below.

  • A general consensus was shared early even before the conference began. “The current (predominantly male) model of success virtually requires driving ourselves into the ground.”
  • The need to seriously consider other metrics for success beyond money and power, which seemed to be different for different folks and rightfully so.
  • Many driven and ambitious people end up running until a melt down moment awakens them.
  • Interestingly, all the attendees and the panelists seemed to be very accomplished folks both in terms of money and power.
  • It seemed like it would be quite appropriate for such folks to talk about metrics that went beyond money and power.
  • Some of us wondered, “How the conversation might have changed, had both the panelists and attendees included more junior level folks who did not make a lot of money or have a lot of power?”
  • There seemed to be a lot of time spent on the battle of the sexes, which one speaker referred to as the battle of the last century.
  • Several panelists shared the virtues of mindfulness practices and meditation and their role in leading a better life.
  • While the panels were all extremely informative and interesting and some examples of the “The Third Metric” were shared like Impact, Family, etc., I did not get the feeling that the conference really drove that point hard.
  • In fact, why was the role of our Ego in this equation largely left untouched?

My own take on why many driven and ambitious people focus on money and power is because of the way we have been conditioned to a large extent by the myth, “Focus on Achievement and Happiness will follow.”  I wrote an entire post that touched upon this issue.  We also see “Fame and Fortune” being glorified everywhere.  Having worked in the wealth management industry for over 9 years, I can tell you that money does not buy happiness, it can only buy pleasure.  If you are interested in knowing more about the myth behind pleasure, please check out my post from last year.

Unless we gain the clarity through introspective awareness as to who we really are and that the identity or image that we try to portray and protect is really not us, it is going to be very difficult to embrace any other metrics other than “fame and fortune” or “money and power.” Once you realize who we really are, all material and egoic power becomes superficial.  The real beauty of this achievement is pure bliss.

To wrap up, the three best points that I garnered out of the conference were:

  1. Find a boss that accepts your life; don’t sneak around.
  2. Mom’s have to model the right behavior to their daughters.
  3. Staying away from talking to your kids about your work sends a message that you leave them alone all day to do something that isn’t very important.  It sure can effect their self-worth.  So please let them know why you leave them and go to work, what it means and why it is important.

Be mindful about the choices you make on how you schedule your priorities.


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