Empathy is an essential quality to achieve true satisfaction from your work and home life.

At nearly 61, I have gone from being the young guy in the room to the old guy. It all happened so fast that it seems like a dream. And even though in my head I “feel” 25, the aches and pains in my body tell me otherwise. But not every aspect of getting older is negative. 

One thing age provides is experience. And that experience should provide perspective that a younger person won’t have. Perspective is valuable! 

Now that I have it, I can see how ego is a double-edged sword. It may drive you to achieve but do so for all the wrong reasons. And that drive can become self-destructive later in life because the ego keeps you from being able to empathize with others — an essential quality to achieve true satisfaction from your work and home life.

When I think about the very best civil and structural engineers I have known in my life, they were all people who deeply cared about other people. They achieved great goals through others because they could put themselves in the other guy’s shoes. That ability changes virtually everything you say and do. They gave the people they worked with the credit versus hogging it for themselves. They could think long term and do the right thing for the future versus what made them look best today. And by not trying to look like heroes, they actually acted like heroes and became heroes.

What is motivating you? Are you pursuing your work with the “right” goals in mind, or doing so thinking only about the potential glory you’ll receive? If the latter, odds are you will run off-course. Why wait until you are my age to figure that out? By then it may be too late to redeem yourself and achieve the truly great things that are possible when your energy level is highest and mind is sharpest.

We have another great issue of Civil + Structural Engineer magazine here for you in March. Bob Drake and our other editors and contributors have worked hard to put themselves in your shoes and deliver the best product for you that we can. Enjoy reading and pass it on to someone else you think will benefit from these pages!


Mark C. Zweig mzweig@zweiggroup.com