It starts with you – secure your oxygen mask first

If you’ve ever set foot in an airplane, you would have been exposed to the obligatory safety briefing. Instructions on how the seatbelts work, where the nearest emergency exits are and that, in addition to your life vest, the seat cushions may be used as floatation devices (which is great if you’re trying to land that farm dam in the Karoo).

One of the more important instructions is that in the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will deploy, which you need to secure first, before helping others. Why help yourself before helping your child, partner or the person seated next to you? If you don’t, you both could go down.

This is vitally important advice, not only in an emergency situation, but also for life in general.

Secure your oxygen mask first

It starts with you. You need to take responsibility for being able to operate at your best. If you don’t, you won’t be able to assist those around you – family, friends, colleagues.

Especially in business, we forget to look after ourselves first. Self-care, mental health, being organised, saying no to negative influences, saying yes to new experiences, managing your stress, taking opportunities for self-development and growth and generally doing things that make you happy.

How can you lead change or inspire growth in others if you are not demonstrating those values and behaviours yourself? The adage of leading by example rings true.

We recently posted a quote by Richard Branson, “Clients don’t come first, employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.” This is indeed true, and really goes about self-care, true employee engagement and wellness in an organisation.

So too, we could adapt that quote to say that “You come first. If you take care of yourself, your better able to take care of your colleagues, the organisation and your clients.” I would suggest that this is based on the underlying values of respect and responsibility.

You can only respect others if you respect yourself first, and to always take responsibility for your own actions. You cannot demand or command respect if you are not respectful yourself. Too often we see people in leadership positions managing by fear, instead of leading from the front and by example.

So be responsible, secure your own oxygen mask. This will afford you the ability to extend that to the people around you. More often than not, this leads to you being happier at home, at work, in life.

What do you think? What are the things you do to secure your oxygen mask?

Photo by Calle Macarone on Unsplash