Over the last few weeks, several occurrences have reminded me of an instruction I hear frequently, “Put on your mask first,
before helping others.” Sound familiar? It’s one of the key statements a flight attendant makes before the pilot takes off. Putting your mask on first is simple and important, but not always easy.

It is simple because if oxygen flow suddenly became an issue on a flight, an oxygen mask is the immediate help we want and need. It is important because it could be the difference between life or death. But, why is it so important that flight attendants mention it before every flight and remind parents individually? Well…it is not easy to instinctively try to help ourselves before we help others. Are you that type of leader? I tend to be.

As I reflected on 2017 and established my goals for 2018, I realized I spent most of last year helping others with their masks first. While I gained satisfaction from seeing others benefit from my help, I often found myself stagnant. As a result, I did not grow as a leader at the pace I have in previous years. In 2018, I plan to put on my mask first, and I encourage you to do the same.

This approach will not keep us from helping others with their mask. On the contrary, it will enable us to be more helpful to others. As leaders, we have an opportunity to assist with the growth and development of the people we lead. To take advantage of that opportunity, we have the responsibility to also grow.

If you are like me, we must be intentional about our own development. By doing so, we must position ourselves to put on our masks first. With our masks on, we can efficiently help others with their masks. Think about it, if a parent on a plane tries to put his/her child’s mask on first and struggles, both are in danger. If he/she puts his/her mask on first, they will be more focused and effective effort can be directed to the child. Remember, it is simple and important, but not always easy. Nevertheless, put your mask on first this year.

Lead with Integrity.

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