Put Your Mask on First

January 19, 2019
Today’s topic is about choices. The actions we choose to take and, more importantly, the actions we choose not to take. All have impact.

Contrary to popular belief – or what you employer may tell you – you ALWAYS have a choice. Some choices are better than others, but they are choices nonetheless.


On this episode of the Rutledge Perspective we are going to talk about self-preservation and the misconception that self-care is somehow selfish.

This topic is especially important here at the end of the year where there is so much frantic activity. Year-end work projects, budget evaluations and preparations for the new year goal setting. Family projects and parties. The lists go on and on and pretty soon we are buried in stuff and trying to figure out where the time went.

During this time, it is important to be mindful of your energy and focus. As the old saying goes, poor planning on your part does not constitute and emergency on mine. Don’t let the crazy and frenzy of the season take you out of your steady state. Professionally or personally. As we have talked about in previous episodes – you are not obligated to do everyone else’s job nor to say yes to every request.

In intentionally used the term “put your mask on first” as the title for this episode. Each time you fly commercial airlines, you get the safety demonstration that the majority of people are not listening to. But when you do listen, when they talk about losing cabin pressure and the oxygen masks, the instructions are to put your mask on first before helping anyone else. Why is this important? Because our instinct is to help someone first – especially if they are a family member. And it wasn’t until I started paying attention to how things connected that I got the point of this process. It will not be possible for you to help anyone else if you are unconscious because you did not put on your own mask! YOU must be on the top of your priority list in that situation.

And that translates into everyday as well. If you are not taking time for self-care, you cannot possibly perform the way you want to perform. Leaders – look at your calendars – if there is no white space at all, add another meeting to your calendar: a meeting with your assistant to re-work your scheduling process. Usually, your assistant is doing his/her best to give you time. You are the one that make it impossible by just saying “yes” every time someone asks you for a meeting. Take it from the world’s worst calendar manager!! Let your assistant run interference for you. He/she can be your best ally in aiding you in professional self-care!

Take your vacation time and unplug! Research continues to show how over-stimulated we are. We need time away from the devices and the lights and the noises to reset our brains and our bodies.

Leave the office at a decent time. In the episode “The Art of Saying No” we talked about not getting into the habit of being the first one there and the last one out simply out of habit. Don’t allow it to become a habit for others to expect you to always be there. Sometime, you need to just go home!

Find your Village who will keep you honest about self-care. We can all use a bit of accountability in this area.

Since you are reading this post, let’s do a quick exercise before you leave:

Sit where you are and relax.

Empty your mind of everything except this moment.

Take several deep cleansing breaths.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • First – what is on your list and why?
  • Second – are the things on your list in priority order? If not, re-order and eliminate?
  • Third – are YOU on your list?
  • Finally – Pause again and breathe deeply. Be mindful of the awareness you just created for yourself. YOU GOT THIS!!!!


And that’s The Rutledge Perspective for this week. How are you putting your mask on first? Leave your comments below. I want to hear from you. Your contribution makes the Village stronger.

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