I’d like you to think of a part of the safety demonstration that flight attendants must always perform at the start of each and every flight you go on (at least I hope that this happens on each and every flight, for your sake).
‘In the case of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop from a compartment above your heads. Fit the mask to yourself first, and then assist others’.
If we had our children or loved ones with us, who were incapacitated or unable to help themselves in some way, I ask you this; how many of us would obey the flight attendants’ instructions?
I am almost prepared to bet my life (and my own oxygen mask) that the answer is ‘none’.
The reason? We are, through a culture of learning to put others before ourselves – whether in our personal lives or our business lives – often guilty of being our own worst enemies. It may not be conscious, and it may not be intentional, but my goodness we are so very good at it.
Which means, when we look in the mirror, often we don’t like what we see – either physically or metaphysically.
We are so used to being responsible for the needs of others. For our families; our partners; our staff. We are used to looking after problems both at home and at work. To making sure that budgets balance – whether that be on a micro level or a macro. We run households, corporate divisions, corporations themselves, our own businesses. We look after the development and growth of our children, our work colleagues, our up and coming protegees – and usually as a result, the person who gets shoved to the background and left to not develop or grow is us.
And in many ways, it is our own fault.
How often do you find yourself so tired that the keys to the car end up in the fridge, and the milk somewhere completely unexpected? I bet you have, like me, walked into the supermarket with a specific list – and walked out again an hour later without having purchased a thing on said list and yet having spent a few hundred dollars. Either that or just not being able to face it at all because your brain is screaming ‘enough!’
Maybe you have started losing your temper unexpectedly and without provocation. Or you are not giving your best work – and you know it.
These are all signs of self-sabotage through giving too much to others and not being kind enough to ourselves.
And because it is self-sabotage, we are the ones who need to fix it.
There is time when we need to say ‘enough now’. This is not being selfish; this is called self-care. And we have to be responsible for ourselves and take action when things get to this stage, because we do everyone in our lives – in business and personally – a disservice when we refuse to admit that we are pushing ourselves to the limit.
Take a break. Recharge the batteries. Oxygenate your brain! It may be for half an hour – it may be for a week. But don’t feel guilty for putting yourself first. Because in the end a little TLC will benefit everyone in your life.
And the person you see in the mirror may just look like your friend again, and not someone you could cheerfully throw a punch at.