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Living Your Soul Signature

To live your soul signature means having the courage and clarity to live a life that is uniquely yours and reflects your greatest potential. This series of posts focuses on people who inspire me in the way they live their life and have found their most authentic expression.

Arianna Huffington is living her soul signature.

“What I learned… is that we aren't on this earth to accumulate victories or trophies or experiences… but to be whittled and sandpapered down until what's left is who we truly are.” – Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington has achieved success in many arenas. She is a force to be reckoned with, one of the most powerful women in media today. But her power does not come from her status or wealth. It comes from a fire inside her to move beyond the norm, forge her own destiny, and live her truest expression.

Arianna's life has been informed by a desire to do something extraordinary despite growing up poor, the daughter of a single mother in a one-bedroom apartment in Athens.

“My mom was the biggest influence in my life. One day, I looked in a magazine and saw a picture of Cambridge University, and I said I wanted to go there. Everybody else laughed. But my mother said, 'OK. Let's find out how you can go there.' She borrowed money for us to go to England. She made it clear that if I failed — if I didn't get into Cambridge — it was not a big deal. But I got in.”

Arianna not only willed herself to Cambridge, but to the presidency of the Cambridge Union, the famed debating society — only the third woman ever to hold that post. At 23, Arianna announced herself as a player on the national stage with the counter-feminist book, The Female Woman. She later became a conservative commentator, wife, a loving and devoted mother, an independent gubernatorial candidate, a liberal convert, media maverick, and now a fixture at the forefront of digital media and one of the most influential people in our culture today.

I don’t mean to suggest she's never had a difficult time of it. She’s seen her share of personal trials and freely admits to crying through many of them. In her latest book, Thrive, she writes about her struggle to subdue and contain the voice in her head that she calls her “obnoxious roommate”– the voice that spews persistent negativity. “I had to really educate her and educate myself to realize that I am not that voice — I am not that negative fantasy or these doubts. It was the most draining part of my life.”

Arianna has learned to banish self-doubt, rebound from failure, and reinvent her life. She has modernized the paradigm of the news editor and media magnate. She’s been vocal about having a strong female presence in the business world and changing the way we structure our work life. “I want to redefine success,” she says. “Unplug, recharge, and sleep” is her slogan. “We’ve looked at how men have done success, which has not been great. It leads to heart attacks,” she told a recent Advertising Age conference. “If Lehman Brothers had sisters, maybe they would still be around.”

However, Arianna went through her own period of running herself ragged while birthing The Huffington Post. She collapsed from exhaustion and found herself “lying on the floor of my home office in a pool of blood. On the way down, my head had hit the corner of my desk, cutting my eye and breaking the cheekbone.” The spill was a result of exhaustion and overwork.

The incident was a long overdue wake up call – a mandate to instill mindfulness into her over scheduled life and embrace moderation. Arianna has often stressed the toll a disproportionate work/life balance has on women in particular, but her message rings true for both sexes. “I'm not saying don't have big dreams and don't try to excel at your job,” she says. “I'm simply saying that we shouldn't allow professional success to define us. We're more than our to-do lists. And we don't have to wait until we get a corner office for our lives to have value and meaning. We can thrive wherever we find ourselves right now, and being exactly who we already are.”

Arianna Huffington doesn't simply preach female empowerment — she is empowered and has redefined success as something beyond money and influence. She is using the platform she has created to bring mindfulness, meditation, and spirituality to a broad audience. She is looking at business from a nurturing, holistic perspective and searching for ways to heal the places that need mending.

I admire the fearlessness she brings to everything she does and the clarity that drives her to question the things we've come to accept as “the norm.” Arianna is living her soul signature, making headlines, and empowering others to thrive.

Panache is honored to be a part of the stellar lineup of speakers at Thrive: A Third Metric Live Event in New York City on April 24-25.