What the air hostess told me that changed my life
Whenever I sit on a plane, and while the safety demonstration unfolds, I am reminded of the most powerful advice I have ever been given by a stranger. It changed the way I live and work. Maybe it will do the same for you?
Her name was Christina, or so read her Air Hostess name tag. She was doing the safety demonstration. When it came to using the oxygen masks, she explained how adults should first affix theirs before helping their children put masks on.
“Why should we do that?” I asked her when she had finished.
Her reply changed me forever.
“Take DELIBERATE OXYGEN for your self,” she said. “You have to make sure you are functioning well before you can really be at your best for those you love.”
This simple message made me realise that unless I better managed my own stress, I would not have the resilience to keep being the best I could be for the people who relied on me, at work and at home.
Here’s how to do it- at work and in life.
First- Give Yourself Permission To Take Deliberate Oxygen, Often
Arianna Huffington, the founder of The Huffington Post, told us at Cannes: “We equate relaxation with losers. We have to redefine the value of unplugging and recharging…. Relaxation is an essential element to creativity.”
Former Wallaby rugby captain John Eales wrote in his Australian Financial Review column: “Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up.”
Tony Blair in his autobiography writes how he and Gordon Brown would periodically go to New York for a few days, book themselves into a nice hotel, walk the streets and parks, eat well, and talk. And talk. And talk.
Deliberate Oxygen As A Leadership Team
At STW, our CEO Mike, CFO Lukas and myself call it: ‘Fresh Air’ sessions. We try to block out a day and a night every quarter if we can. Get out of town. Suck in the air. Talk. Talk more. Revisit what we talked about and talk about it with another twist.
We always get back to our desks with alignment, clarity, renewed and reinvigorated momentum. We used to feel guilty taking the time to do this. Now we feel guilty and negligent if we don’t.
Mike and I run together as often as we can (not often enough). We choose a topic, a gnarly issue. We talk it through as we jog the hilly streets of Sydney’s lower north shore. The change of scenery and clear heads always helps us nail it.
And Deliberate Oxygen In Your Lives
Well- each of you know what does it for you. Fishing. Gardening. Cycling. Reading. Charity work. Whatever it is, to stay resilient and to keep ourselves ‘fit’ so we can give others what they need from us, we have to take deliberate oxygen, regularly.
The Power of A Third Place
At the very least, block out a two hour session once a week to quietly sit in your Third Place (Starbucks invention- we have home, we have work, but we all need a ‘third place’ where we can be alone and think). Think about all your priorities. Are you focusing your time in the right way, on the right things. Fine-tune your plans, and ‘to do’ lists. That two hours of ‘deliberate oxygen’ per week will give you clarity, confidence and invigoration.
As Arianna Huffington says: “We have to redefine the value of unplugging and recharging.” You are NOT a loser when you do this- you are instead someone committed to doing the best you can for those you value and care for.