Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask First

Recently, I was on a flight traveling with my 6-year-old goddaughter sitting next to me. To set a good example, I told her to listen carefully to the flight attendant’s safety instructions. While talking about the oxygen masks, one flight attendant made a point to come to me to reiterate: “Make sure you secure yours before helping with hers.” I smiled politely, but inside I sneered, “Yeah right. Think of myself first before helping her? No way.”

Then I looked at the elderly couple across the aisle and the child traveling alone in the row in front of me. I visualized needing to assist all these people in the event of an emergency (it’s amazing how the mind starts dramatizing a scenario). I realized if I couldn’t breathe, I might not be able to help anyone around me. I then realized that securing my own oxygen mask was the most selfless and helpful thing I could do for everyone else. But this is too often not how people live their lives. Instead, they run around helping everyone else with their oxygen masks (errands, requests, obligations, etc.) and eventually run out of oxygen themselves, becoming stressed, tired, unfit and unhealthy.

When I ask people the order of their priorities and core values, I often hear an order like this:
1. God

2. Family and friends

3. Business, customers and employees

4. Well-being, personal interests, etc.

This order will eventually cause you to run out of oxygen. You are no good to God, your family, your company or anything/anyone else if you are rundown or you get sick or drop dead of a heart attack. You cannot give what you do not have. If you want to give more, serve more, contribute more, build more, create more, you have to be stronger and more vital, have more stamina and vigor. You need to make you your first priority so that you can give more, be more and do more for others. Jim Rohn put it this way: “You take care of you for me, and I will take care of me for you.” My suggestion is to take out your calendar and schedule you first. Schedule your exercise, meals for proper nutrition, enough sleep, mental relaxation and recreation for recovery. Then go down the rest of your priority list and start adding family, business and social obligations.

In the May issue of SUCCESS, we will help you strengthen both your mind and body so that you may be of greater service and value to everyone else and everything else in your life. Our interviews with Jillian Michaels and Chris Freytag will give you tips on living a healthy life and get you motivated to start today. And our feature on mental resiliency will show you ways to overcome the inevitable obstacles we all face on the road to well-being. Also, be sure to listen to the SUCCESS CD that is loaded with more fantastic health and fitness tips from Jillian Michaels, Chris Freytag and Chris Guerriero.

Cheers… to you and your good health!


Darren Hardy is the former publisher of SUCCESS magazine, an entrepreneur and New York Times best-selling author of The Compound Effect and Living Your Best Year Ever: A Proven Formula for Achieving Big Goals.

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