AGL 031: Put your oxygen mask on first

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AGL 031: Put your oxygen mask on first

If you’ve every flown on an airplane then you’ve heard the flight attendant say:

In the event of the cabin loose pressure, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.

That last statement may seem odd to anyone that has children.  I’ve got 3 kids and as a father, my natural tendency is to help my kids first.  But the instructions clearly state not to do that. Ever thought about why? Well let’s think about it.  What happens if you run out of oxygen?  If you’re out, then you can’t help others.  You have to take care of your own need for oxygen first, then you can assist others.

The same is true when you’re leading a team. You have to put your oxygen mask on first.  Make sure you’re healthy enough to lead the team.  If you run out of oxygen trying to save others, then its likely you both will perish. So as a leader, how do we put on our oxygen mask to ensure that we’re taken care of?

This is a super vague question with dozens of possible answers. I’m going to hit the highlights here.  For details on these 7 things, please listen to this episode:

  1. Take care of yourself physically – physical health goes along way with mental energy
  2. Take care of yourself mentally – take time to work on your mind, learn something new, not related to work
  3. Make time for Deep Work – Block off large blocks to time to immerse yourself on a single task or problem
  4. Make time for brainstorming – Many times the solutions to our largest problems come in the blank spaces, or the margins of our busy schedule.  Block time on your calendar for brainstorming.  I like to take a walk around the lake outside my office to think.
  5. Make room for growth – prune less valuable work relentlessly
  6. Empower others – Your team will never grow if you don’t give them the opportunity. Delegate like a champ.
  7. Disconnect from time to time – When you’re off work, you’re off work.  Take time off, without your phone, laptop or iPad.  Disconnect and let your brain recover.


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