Keeping your head on straight

Oct 30, 2017

With the environment we are living in – crazy political stuff – potential nuclear war – mass shootings by maniacs – it would be easy to let it all get to you.

But you can’t. You are the leader of an A/E firm. You have everyone who works for you and their families to take care of. You have to be strong in the face of the storm and cannot waiver. It’s a big responsibility! You can’t just tell your boss to “take this job and shove it!” as Johnny Paycheck did in his pop country song from 40 years ago.

So what can you do to help yourself stay centered? Here are some thoughts:

  • Limit your intake. Limit your intake of negative information. That may mean you need to curtail the amount of TV news you watch and radio talk shows you listen to because you know it can poison your mind and your spirit. And that it won’t help you do your job better or be a happier person!
  • Take time to do nothing. That means pure shut down. “Boredom” can be good. It lets your brain rest and recharge and helps you be more creative. Constantly occupying your mind with something (i.e., grabbing your phone every moment you have a break), is terrible for you and deprives you of badly needed, non-sleep downtime. This past weekend I went to a fall party hosted by one of my University of Arkansas co-workers (a fellow professor). Their place isn’t too far out of town but is completely idyllic with a beautiful small house, workshop building, spring-fed pond, etc. I sat there on a comfortable couch on their sunny deck and looked out on the beautiful surroundings. My cell phone didn’t work very well there so I wasn’t tempted to look at it. It was so refreshing and peaceful.
  • Have some solitary activities. Whether that’s super early-morning golf by yourself, your after-work run, your antique car you’re restoring, quilt-making, grass cutting, or motorcycle riding – do something by yourself that gets you off your phone and lets you think. It is so helpful and healthy to have this time to really think things through.
  • Avoid negative people. Some people will always put you in a bad mood. They never see a glass as half-full. They absolutely have no joy in their lives. They will suck you down into their vortex-toilet bowl of negativity IF you let them. Don’t! Stay away from them so their disease doesn’t infect you. Because believe me, it IS contagious!
  • Pass your knowledge down. It helps you feel better about yourself and the world when you can pass on the lessons you have learned to the next generation. Spend time helping others avoid the mistakes you have made. Share with them your wisdom accumulated over the years. It is like an antidote for negativity.

Folks – it’s time to stop fooling around and take your mental health seriously. What hints do you have for your fellow readers? We’d love to hear from you!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

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About Zweig Group

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.