Can You Afford to Smell the Flowers?

At the core of Adriana Huffington’s new book, Thrive, is her story of injuring herself when nodding off at her desk following a period of prolonged work-induced sleep deprivation. She describes it in a video.


The experience convinced her that sleep deprivation was a sign of poor career management. Over-riding basic biological systems in the service of ambition was not only indicative of poor alignment of values—giving priority to work over health—but an ineffective strategy for pursuing ambition. Without physical and mental wellbeing supported by a healthy lifestyle, one was doomed to failure. You must take time to smell the flowers or burnout awaits you.

A conundrum exists between her argument and her experience. This amazingly prolific and successful woman did push herself beyond a reasonable physical capacity for years. Her conversion to a relaxed lifestyle occurred recently when she already possessed impressive wealth and fame.

While decrying the futility of working beyond one’s capacity, she demonstrates that doing so is the foundation of success.

Was Adriana just more reiliant than the ordinary person, allowing her to sustain superhuman effort so long? Was she just lucky? Or is superhuman effort the only road to extraordinary success?

How do you resolve the conflict between work intensity and a fulfilling lifestyle?

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