Put Your Mask on First

Leadership advice from airline safety

oxygen mask

If you’ve spent any time flying commercially, you’ve most likely memorized the flight attendants instructions prior to take off.

Perhaps this will sound familiar:

Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.

Years ago I was listening (I usually tune these announcements out – sorry) and one line jumped out at me.

If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.

I was instantly reminded of an important leadership principle. This is probably something you already know, but it’s always good to be reminded.

Leader, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t continue to lead at the level needed to help your team be successful. You certainly can’t lead a team to be healthy if you are living an unhealthy lifestyle. The healthier you are – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally – the more health you can bring to the team.

Just like on the airplane, you can’t help your team if you are having trouble breathing on your own.

Be honest.

What is one thing you would need to change in order to live a healthier life?

Grab your mask – get some needed oxygen – get the help you need, whatever it is, so you can lead at your best again.

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9 thoughts on “Put Your Mask on First

  1. Ron, this hit me like a ton of bricks last year when my VERY normal blood pressure self was diagnosed with hypertension. I thought, "who, ME? Really?" Yes, really. I'd let pressures build from the inside out, made excuses for not going to the gym, and become a social hermit (hello soft cozy couch with a bag of chips). Now, THAT was a wake-up call. A little BP med, a wiser diet choice and some good gym time has turned the situation around. I cannot begin to tell you how much better I feel. And my energy level is probably making my sweet hubby crazy! By the way, I'd add this "turn off the smartphone and have some real conversation with friends & family, in person".