By Christine Sederquist
WCRL VP of Communications
How many times have you heard this phrase? “In the event of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop down into the cabin. Secure your own mask before helping others”. As a parent, the instruction is jarring because your first (and second and third) instinct is to take care of your children. As a leader, the instruction makes sense. How many people could you help if you secured your mask last? How many more people can you help if you have a steady supply of oxygen?
As leaders, we are surrounded by needs: staff, volunteers, constituents, schedules, meetings, travel. We also have families with their own set of needs: aging parents in declining health, kids with class projects, spouses who require attention, friendships that demand support. All the things I just listed didn’t even get to what we need ourselves.
Leaders are not immune to problems, burn out, or stress. We’re not immune to getting sick. And sometimes we’re horrible about striking enough of a balance that we can take proper care of ourselves.
We’re also not immune to the effects of time. The aging parents will pass on. The children will grow up. One tomorrow after another and we realize that we were so busy that we missed the important things. We didn’t put our masks on first.
2020 is still a fresh, new year. Let’s take some time this month to evaluate our lives and inventory our own needs. Find ways to diet, exercise, get a check up, and learn to de-stress. Ensure your schedule makes enough time for the people who love you. Carve out regular hours to have fun or even just do nothing at all. You can only bring your best energy and support if you listen to that flight attendant and take care of yourself first.