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Sleep Your Way to the Top & Other Well-Being Tips

I recently attended Washington Women's Leadership Initiative's (WWLI) inaugural event, an amalgamation of female senior leaders from all walks of life and nationalities.

Arianna Huffington, the keynote speaker, was all ours for a glorious 2 hours.

Founder of the Huffington Post and leading lady in the business world, many women waited at the edge of their seats for tips on how to be a female business tycoon.

"You have to sleep your way to the top," she told a giggling crowd of Washington's leading ladies.

"I am a big believer in naps at work and getting at least 8 hours of sleep a day."

Arianna stressed the key to her success was not working longer hours, traveling to more countries and constantly eating at her desk. Instead, self-care and putting human capital first is the key to great leadership. And more than anything, this is her message to leading ladies of the world.

"Leadership needs to change. Organizations need to change. The workplace needs to change. Putting human needs first, that's not selfish. That's smart," Arianna insisted.

So often we in the USA and the West ignore the red flags. Exhaustion is everywhere. It's worn as a badge of honor. Jobs, families, relationships and health suffer. Enormous amounts of leaders are making poor decisions in running their organizations and teams.

What can leaders do to ensure their well-being? The well-being of their followers?

1) Exhaustion should be stigmatized.
Are you thriving, or only surviving? What kind of self-care habits are you embodying? Consider how much sleep, exercise and quiet time you are able to carve out of each day. If you are not at the place you'd like to be in one of these categories, what's getting in the way?

2) Multi-tasking is an illusion.
There is no such thing as doing two things at the same time, and doing them well. How present are you to the person in your conversation if you are on the phone, doing a project, or walking out the door? Treat each conversation as it is the last you will ever have with this person. Be present to the moment. Listen with heart and let the rest go. Trust that the rest of your tasks will be completed in due time.

3) Change from "go-getter" to "go-giver."
There's nothing wrong with wanting to achieve a goal but don't forget to stop and be thankful for all life has to offer. Statistics show adopting an attitude of gratitude directly relates to strong relationships, great careers and longevity. Keep a gratitude journal. Write down 3 small things each day that you are thankful for. And be sure to add a note of the role you played in this positive outcome. After two short weeks you will have retrained your thought-patterns and begin to automatically scan the horizon for positive developments.


LizBarron's picture

Lovely writing--enjoy your snooze

I loved your piece. thanks for sharing, Liz

Emily Garcia's picture

Thank you for sharing!

Thank you for sharing, Sarah! I just finished reading and discussing with my book group Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg and one realization many of us took away from her story was that, no, we didn't want to be like her. Not when she couldn't unplug at all on her maternity leave, and had to slink out of the office at 5 so as not to be discovered leaving at a reasonable hour to be home for dinner with her kids.

"Putting human needs first, that's not selfish. That's smart." I love this!

Thanks again,

Emily Garcia
World Pulse Online Community Lead

Sarah.Happel's picture

Hello Emily,Isn't that the

Hello Emily,

Isn't that the truth? Women especially seem to have this "guilt-meter" in putting themselves first. (Or anywhere except dead-last.)

It's also powerful for me to hear that many women in your group are realizing that cutting short maternity time or "slinking" out of the office is unacceptable. Bravo! This is true for any parents trying to be in the workforce, or any non-parents who want to simply live a holistic life that may also involve hobbies, fitness, spiritual pursuits, or nature.

My Grampa used to say, "Life is too short to spend one day doing something you don't enjoy." He was a farmer and a woodcutter living in the deep woods (and lakes) of Minnesota. He lived to be 93 years old and was out in the forest chopping trees right up until he died.

I agree with him. Guilt never got me anywhere. And life is short. I now do exactly what I want: I'm in a profession I love, and I'm home in time to greet my boys when they get off the bus.

I have found people respect me when I am honest in saying, "Sorry, I can't make next Monday's meeting at 4:30, I'm going to my son's basketball game." And when I do this, I see others having the courage to do it, too.

We need to trust that our colleagues and employees are wise enough to get their work done AND take care of themselves and their families. They can do both. Our organizations and culture just need to allow them permission to do so.


Sarah Happel, Principal
Intercultural Training & Leadership Coaching

Emily Garcia's picture

Music to my ears

Hi Sarah,

Thanks so much for your reply and for sharing this wonderful story about your grandpa. Brava for taking his advice and doing what you love every day. =) You're setting a great example for everyone - your boys, your colleagues, me. =P

Thank you again for sharing. I appreciate your wisdom and warmth.

Kind regards,

Emily Garcia
World Pulse Online Community Lead

kellyannaustin's picture


This is a great reminder for all of us to stay grounded in our essential needs: sleep, shelter, food, love. And I love the idea of including daily gratitude. This seems very much in line with ideas about living simply too. Less stuff, less to maintain, more time to sleep!

Thank you,


Sarah.Happel's picture


Hello Kelly,

Beautifully put! Indeed, less is more. And using gratitude is a wonderful way to look at the world. Thank you for your feedback.


Sarah Happel, Principal
Intercultural Training & Leadership Coaching

Sarah.Happel's picture

Wandering Authentically

If you wander in search of answers, check out my latest journal post, where I have shared one of my favorite poems, "Wandering Authentically."

Sarah Happel, Principal
Intercultural Training & Leadership Coaching

Luphurise's picture

Powerful Message

Hi Sarah thanks very much for sharing,

I am inspired and moved to change,

Especially for the truth about Multi tasking you put it very well, we are living in the world where there is a lot of illusion,

People have forgotten that you cannot make a human being to be a is only a robot who would multitask, never sleep, etc

On Gratitute thanks for reminding as most of time we use to spend time to only see what we have not accomplished while there is a lot we have done for which we should be gratitude.

I will keep following your post my Coach, I have PM also

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