I read an article the other day in the Harvard Business Review by Whitney Johnson and Amy Humble focusing on the idea of putting your oxygen mask on first. Now, we all know that when we fly, this expectation is set with all of us. Why? Because if we don’t ensure we are ok, how can we care for anyone else in the long run? We can’t. Said differently, we have to be role models for our teams and those around us and the way we do that is by using self-care as a role model behavior.
As leaders and owners, we care. We care about our families, friends, our teams, and our community. We care about the clients/customers we impact every day. Because of that, we focus on them first. We ask how they are doing, how they are feeling, if they are making it, etc. We offer support and ask what they need.
The challenge that was presented in this article is essentially the fact that we go around checking on everyone else, but do we do the same for ourselves? Do we ask ourselves: how am I doing today? What do I need?
I would wager a guess that most of us don’t. We say to ourselves, “I’m fine.” Or, “I’m just going to keep pushing through, I can take a break later.” And what we quickly realize is that we have built-in a routine behavior of not caring for ourselves.
So if we aren’t asking or allowing ourselves to self-reflect, if we don’t give ourselves a chance to provide self-care, then how will we continue to care for others going forward? How can we tell other people to take care of themselves when they can see that we aren’t practicing what we preach so to speak?
One suggestion Jonhson and Humble provided was to keep a routine. Now, we have talked about routines in various episodes. But I wanted to bring that point up again. Practicing routines, especially a good morning routine, is critical. It allows you to start your day with a win, it helps you to take time for yourself, and it allows the self-reflection time we all need to honestly ask ourselves: “How am I doing?”
During this period of work from home and social distancing, if you have gotten out of your routine, find it again. Build into that routine the time you need to self-reflect and provide self-care.
Your family, team, and friends need to see you displaying self-care as a role model behavior for them to believe they too deserve to take care of themselves. It starts with us. Give yourself the oxygen you need so you can be fit to serve others in your life.