Mental health

My uncle was a psychiatrist and professor, and would comment that a good sign of a person’s mental health is their ability to cope with stress and duress, such as setbacks, a layoff and so on. These days, an awful lot of people are struggling to keep their mental health on an even keel.

There’s a lot to worry about these days. Even for those where business is good, there is the nagging worry – how long will this last? How do we keep cash coming in to support our business and employees? Will we have to let people go?  I worked in one situation where I would wake up in the middle of the night, running the cash flow in my head (in wasn’t good).

Every so often, I shake myself and resolve – again – to get out and meet with at least one person a week. Even in my days of having a “W-2 job”, I tried to have lunch at least one day a week with someone outside of my company. It worked pretty well as a means of expanding my contacts, developing relationships and friendships, and having an outlet to share the stresses – and joys – of work.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Andre Meyer, the financier and one time head of the fabled Lazard Frere investment bank (one that is profitable and still stands independent). His comment to his daughter: “Business – real business – isn’t about money. It’s about people. You have to know and understand people”.

It can sound New Age-y, but there is truth to the advice that our physical and mental health makes us better people and better business people. It’s not a matter of building a huge number of contacts (LIONS, in Linked In terms), but, rather, building a network of friends and business friends – the people who you can trust, who can keep confidences and be forthcoming in advice as needed. Under pressure, it’s easy to tend towards being “down”, and to withdraw and work longer hours. We used to call it “burned out”, which is really being depressed. Getting out helps us see that we are not alone, that many, many people are struggling and trying to keep their business going in very tough times. We work much better – and are more successful – when we are mentally “up” in conducting our business.

Once I post this to my blog, I’m making plans for my first meet next week.

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