Putting on Your Oxygen Mask First

If you ever fly on an airplane, you will hear the flight attendants review the safety measures right before takeoff. “If the cabin loses pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling” they will advise. “Put your own mask on first before assisting others.”

For some of us, the idea of putting ourselves first is counterintuitive to what we think are our responsibilities. At home, we may be a parent or caregiver. At work, we are leaders, coaches, mentors, and trainers. Following the advice of Zig Ziglar, we believe “we can get everything we want in life, we just have to first help others get what they want.” However, the flight attendants offer sound advice; one applicable not only to plane travel, but to work and life as well.

The thought-process behind the oxygen procedure is pretty simple; you could lose consciousness in just a few seconds without oxygen. Let’s face it; if you are unconscious, you really aren’t much help to others. Caring for yourself allows you to feel and perform your best so you can be more helpful to others. Skipping means, reducing sleep, or exercise will ultimately make you feel tired, rundown, and sick. 

This is especially true this time of year as we approach cold and flu season. If you are tired and rundown, you are not operating at your best. As such, it is difficult to effectively lead, coach, and motivate your team to perform at their best. You cannot offer to others what you don’t first possess yourself. This is especially true for training and developing your staff. When I was responsible for the training and development for one of the largest credit unions in Pennsylvania, 400 employees depended upon me at my best. I would make it a point to attend three to four workshops and seminars and read at least four books every year. It was important for me to continue my development if I was to help others with their development. Last year I began working with a nationally recognized success coach. If I was going to become a better coach and trainer, I felt it important to work with a coach and trainer of my own.

John Maxwell reminds leaders that we are responsible to our people. Not only must we provide the tools for our people’s success, we must also sharpen our existing tools, and find ways to acquire new ones as well. We cannot offer to others what we don’t first possess ourselves. Take a timeout. Get some rest. Read an informational book. Attend a training workshop or seminar. Grab your oxygen mask. Then, go out and help others with theirs. 

Posted 224 weeks ago