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, oxygen masks will drop down from above your head. Please make sure that you…”

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

In these times of change, we will become most effective if we remember to take the time to ‘put on our own oxygen mask first’.

Doing this has three parts:

  • Putting on the mask — Centring 
    This means taking time to let go of any inner churning we might be experiencing, to calm ourselves and refocus on the present moment
  • Securing the mask — Grounding
    This means reconnecting strongly with who we are at our best
  • Breathing normally — Deepening
    This means strengthening the relationship we have with ourselves, to build a deeper connection with who we are and what matters most to us

In an emergency on a plane, if we don’t take the time to put on our own oxygen mask we are likely to find ourselves struggling to breathe.

In a time of change, if we don’t take the time to Centre, Ground, and Deepen our connection with ourselves we are likely to find ourselves reacting to events rather than shaping our own way forward.

Putting on our own ‘oxygen mask’ is the first step to anything else we want to achieve.

Just like travelling by plane, we won’t have to use our ‘oxygen masks’ every day. But it’s important to know how to use them in case we do.

How calm do you stay in a crisis? How easily do you connect with who you are at your best? How much of your time do you spend on your priorities rather than other people’s? Would it be useful to remember to “put on your own oxygen mask first”?


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

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Photo By Miikka H via StockPholio.net

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