Put the oxygen mask on yourself first


Meeting interesting and inspiring people, listening, being present to them, seeing where I can help them. This is my work, this is what I love to do.

This also fills my batter, brings me energy as I (hopefully) bring energy and inspiration to them to.

I’m generally highly positive, full of energy (mostly calm and centred energy, though with passion and purpose). This is what I tend to bring whenever I meet people.

It is a rare occasion, then, where my energy tank is too empty to be at my best for others when I meet them.

Today is one such day. Today I am in the city of my birth, Edinburgh. This trip was planned weeks ago around visiting someone dear and close to me who has been terminally ill for some time. As I was going to be here anyway, I booked a full afternoon and evening of meetings and events to come after simply meeting this dearly beloved person for a cup of tea.

Sadly, they passed away suddenly last week, so today in the middle of the day, instead of meeting them for a cup of tea, I am attending their funeral. (I wrote of this last week and thank you so much for all the messages and emails I received from regular readers).

I still planned to continue with all my meetings from later in the afternoon onwards, but as I woke up today, I realised that, though such meetings to give me energy, if I am not at my best for others, it makes no sense to go through with those plans.

So, I contacted my first meeting, where I was going to meet to do what I do, to be a sounding board. I realised I would not be at my best for them, so cancelled the meeting, explaining to them I needed to focus on self-care.

I’ll be at my best again very soon, am blessed and inspired to have walked the path on life’s journey and will take the funeral to both grieve and celebrate. However, for now, I do have the self-awareness that I need to take care of myself above all else today.

I work with leaders who are often so selfless that they may risk burn out from their workload in service of others. I talk about repeated themes on this site. One phrase I have repeated countless times is:

“Put the oxygen mask yourself before you help others”

Today I put the oxygen mask on.

I hope this story is of support to you in knowing when to do the same for yourself.

I’ll be back and writing again tomorrow. Writing is what I do, being a writer is part of who I am. Being of service to others, #MakingPotentialPossible is my “Why”.

Thank you for being with me as a reader on this journey too.



Also published on Medium.