Do Something for the Fun of It!

Mar 15, 2004

When you are young, you do things just because you want to. “Fun” is an important part of your life. Too many people forget that when they get older, however. The responsibilities grow and grow, and there’s no time for fun. The joy for living is lost and all that’s left is a working shell. Thank God we work in a business— the A/E/P and environmental consulting business— where we can still have fun at work. I see very few “walking dead” working in our client companies, and that’s a big part of what makes our work so great. But having fun and maintaining a youthful exuberance is still something that a lot of principals in design and environmental firms need to work on. If you aren’t having as much fun as you used to, here are some quick ideas: Teach a class. There’s not a much better way to keep yourself young and have a little fun than teaching a class. Maybe a local college will sign you up for a paying gig? Maybe your teaching could lead to a full-time or part-time retirement gig later on for you. And if you aren’t relying on teaching for income and you don’t need to get caught up in the political machinations of academia (far worse than private business, in my experience!), you can really have fun. Sign up for a class. Whether it’s a dance class or a metal sculpture class, learning something new and meeting some new people who you would not come in contact with otherwise is always fun. Look into the adult or community education offerings available in your area as these are usually low-cost, convenient, and easy-to-try classes on a wide range of subjects ranging from Indian cooking to knitting to wilderness survival. The more affluent your town, the better selection of classes you will probably have. The point is that it’s fun to venture out and do something different. Get into some forced exercise. When I say “forced,” I am talking about taking Tae Bo lessons or yoga lessons or getting a personal trainer. The point is having somewhere to go and someone you have to please besides yourself. This will force you to a new level of performance and commitment that will probably help make you successful, whether you want strength or weight loss. And one thing to remember— success is fun, failure isn’t! Everyone enjoys doing things they feel successful at doing— that’s what’s fun! Buy an old car or bike and redo it. I used to do total frame-up restorations of old motorcycles. The quest to find every part and get everything back to like-new or better-than-new condition is always fun and gratifying. And the people you meet and relationships you form— whether with your painter, or your upholstery professional, or the guy who does all your sandblasting— are part of what makes the process so much fun. But the most fun is when you are done and you get to show off your work! Today I do little fixer-uppers— not complete restorations— and have my oldest daughter helping me. That’s really a lot of fun working with her and seeing her succeed at something she would not otherwise be doing. Do something fun with your peers from other firms in the business. For three years, we put on our “Racing to the Future” conference with principals of firms, each year doing it at a different racing school (Skip Barber, Freddie Spencer, and Richard Petty). As the attendees can tell you, these events were a lot of fun. And they got to meet people they would not otherwise have met. This May, we are putting on a new program, the “Get Your Motor Running” rolling rally, where a small group of top principals of firms from around the country will go on a motorcycle ride and tour of New England’s covered bridges and spend some quality time talking about work and life over food and drink. There are other similar opportunities. Look into them and have a little fun. Reconnect with old friends. It’s always fun to talk to your old friends and have a few laughs. Check out web sites like to look up old schoolmates from high school or college. Make an effort to get in touch and you will be rewarded with new “old friends” who are fun to talk to and catch up with. The point is that there are a lot of things you can do for the fun of it. Take my list above and add to it. And then do one or more of these things and have a little fun. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. You won’t get the best out of your clients, your peers, and your staff when you are dull. Originally published 3/15/2004

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Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.