Secure your own oxygen mask

We all know the drill. You’ve found your seat, fastened your seatbelt and flicked through the in-flight mag. You settle back and then the safety announcements begin:

The cabin is pressurized for your comfort and safety. In the unlikely event of a loss of pressure in the cabin, oxygen masks will appear overhead. Reach up and pull the mask closest to you. Place the mask over your nose and mouth, and slip the elastic strap over your head. Tighten by pulling on the ends. The bag does not need to inflate for oxygen to be flowing. If you are seated next to a small child or someone needing assistance, secure your own mask first and then assist your fellow passenger.

The principle makes sense. Trying to help someone else put on an oxygen mask whilst you are fighting for breath is going to be counter-productive. I wonder how often we apply the same principle to our own work and lives: what do you think?

Take training and development, for example. Do you concentrate on motivating your staff through sending them on training courses but neglect to keep your own skills honed?

Or how about keeping lines of communication open? Do you make sure that your team have regular updates with you but don’t book in time with your own manager?

What about juggling projects? Do you see a colleague struggling to get through something and immediately dive in to help without evaluating the priorities and impact of delay on your respective projects?

Please understand my thinking: I’m not advocating an ‘I’m alright, Jack’ attitude or suggesting we always put ourselves ahead of others. What I’m asking is where do we need to make sure we’re fully equipped before we dive in to help others?

Here’s today’s pebble for you:

Where in your work or your life do you need to put on that oxygen mask before helping someone else?

Any thoughts?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?

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2 Responses to Secure your own oxygen mask

  1. Roger Martini says:

    This is a good lesson to learn. There’s no point the rescuer also needing rescuing: it just makes a bad situation worse. The flip-side to making sure I’m prepared is thinking I’m ready to intervene to help someone when, in reality, I’m not. I’ve found that sometimes I’m out of my depth and have just made matters worse! All good ‘learning opportunities!’

  2. Pingback: Are you running on empty? | Turning over pebbles

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