The Importance of Individuality and Sleep: An Interview With Arianna Huffington
In a world that pushes us to create our own businesses, take risks and capitalize on branding and individuality, Ariana Huffington does not seem to have any problems taking her individuality and turning it into an empire. I had the pleasure of speaking with her at this year's World Government Summit in Dubai about individuality, the importance of sleep and her personal reasons for focusing on wellness.
Me: In a world of social media, and often inaccurate portrayals of other’s lifestyles, it is easy to compare oneself to others when a strong sense of self isn’t present. We feel the need to push ourselves when we should rest and the results can be very negative for both the person and the businesses that they represent.
Huffington: One of our problems with the addictions to social media is that we are constantly comparing ourselves, and our inevitable imperfections, with someone else's hightlight reel, which is all people post on instagram. I think there is an increasing trend for people to show more of their true lives and true selves, rather than represent this photoshopped existence.
Me: We see this so often, especially in business, where being busy is supposed to be the equivalent of being successful. Most of us are guilty of this at one time or another, but how do we identify when we feel like we are being burnt out at work? It is common for employees and CEOs to get used to the workaholic lifestyle and treat it as a trophy, instead of realizing that it may be something that could hinder a job well done.
Huffington: Being burnt out is not necessarily a prize of success. We must recognize that to make better decisions we need to take care of ourselves, be healthier and avoid illness. When people realize the value of taking care of themselves and disconnecting from their devices, then they are more likely to be aware when we fall off the wagon. It’s [your business] never going to be a perfect journey. We are all works in progress. But I think we are becoming much more aware when we are running on empty.
As many of us know, Huffington is open-minded and is known for being an approachable public figure, most likely because she follows her own philosophy of awareness. The reason why she has the opportunity to connect with more people, instead of writing them off due to the lack of sleep or energy, is because she is so purposeful and avid about her own health and wellness. Huffington treats herself like she treats her business, and some things are non-negotiable, like her sleep. She chooses to be fully present with interviews, meetings and clients. It seems like a no-brainer, but we all know the person who burns the candle at both ends and gets many tasks accomplished, but poorly. As for managers and business owners who want to put employees work until their faces fall off, Huffington may have some words of wisdom that may serve the business as a whole.
"I think they just need to look at the data and look at the science that will show that they will create much more productive and creative teams if they actually help them and prioritize their well-being," she said. "The truth right now is that it’s not a question of balance because we are not expected to be always on and always answering emails and texts in the middle of the night. If you’re addicted to social media, if you’re addicted to binge-watching Netflix, you’re still going to be exhausted in the morning. So, it’s no longer just about what you are doing at work, it’s also about how you are managing your relationship with your phone and all that it represents in terms of social media. For me, it was really an abrupt wake-up call. Collapsing from exhaustion, banging my head on my desk, breaking my cheekbone; but I’m very grateful for it [those times]. It helped me course correct and it’s become my mission.”
Huffington’s success seems to be devoted to the simple, yet effective, tools we read about in her numerous bestsellers. In books like The Sleep Revolution, we get an inside look into Huffington’s hacks for dodging jet lag, so you can crush your meeting, and tools to use against a sleep-deprived nation. At the World Government Summit, happiness and mindfulness in business was a topic of focus, and we are eager to see where this enlightened business movement is taking our new startups, as well as existing billion-dollar industries.