Anyone who has been on a commercial airplane has heard the familiar message in the emergency procedures briefing: “In the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, the oxygen masks will appear. Put on your own mask first, and then assist others.” As a parent and as someone who generally likes to look out for others, to be asked to look after myself first always strikes me as a bit of a selfish perspective. However, I know it is a legitimate and important step. If I pass out from a loss of oxygen, I will not be able to help anyone else at all, and I will be a burden to others.
I am beginning to understand that the same rule applies in our day-to-day lives. We spend a significant part of our day in service to others – our work teams, our boss, our colleagues, our parents, our children, community – and we often move quickly from one task to another. If we don’t take the time to breath from our own oxygen mask first, are we able to do our best and be our best for others? A few deep breaths, a walk around the block or just mindfully considering our next action can sharpen our focus, and save time in the end with fewer mistakes and mis-steps.
Set the alarm on your computer, let your smart watch remind you or do whatever it takes to remember to check in with yourself – what do you need now to keep the oxygen flowing to your brain and be your best self?