Put on your own oxygen mask first…

Whenever we travel by plane, every pre-flight safety check tells us exactly the same thing: “In the event of an emergency…

… put on your own oxygen mask first, secure it, and breathe normally before helping others with theirs.”

This is also useful advice during this time of change: we will become more effective in achieving all our goals if we remember to “put on our own oxygen mask first.”

Doing this involves three stages, Centre, Ground, and Deepen:

  • Putting on the mask
    This means letting go of any inner churning we might be experiencing, calming ourselves, and refocusing on the present moment. This is Centring.
  • Securing the mask
    This means reconnecting strongly with what matters most to us and who we are at our best. This is Grounding.
  • Breathing normally
    This means strengthening the relationship we have with ourselves, to build a deeper connection with ourselves and our priorities. This is Deepening.

If we don’t take the time to put on our own oxygen masks during an emergency on a plane we are likely to find ourselves struggling to breathe, before falling unconscious.

If we don’t take the time to Centre, Ground, and Deepen our connection with ourselves during these times of change we are likely to find ourselves reacting to events rather than shaping our own destiny.

Putting on our own oxygen mask is the essential first step towards anything we want to achieve. And even though we don’t expect to use our oxygen mask every time we fly, it is important to know how to, just in case.

How calm do you remain during a crisis? How easily do you avoid panic and reconnect with who you are at your best? What proportion of your time do you spend working on your own priorities rather than someone else’s? Would it be useful to spend more time “putting your own oxygen mask in place”?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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(And remember: you can’t learn to swim just by reading about swimming, you also need to do the practice.)


Photo By Miikka H via StockPholio.net

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