Coaching Others? Put Your Own Mask on First

Anyone who has ever flown has heard these words: “Should a drop in cabin pressure occur, put your own mask on first.”  Yes, in order to help others, you must take care of yourself first.

Since I almost always ponder life through the filter of coaching, this brings to mind three of my recent clients:

–A leader who could feel herself heading toward overwhelm—not sleeping well, having to work hard in order to stay focused, feeling off her normal game and generally unbalanced.

–A client who felt stuck and frustrated—spinning his wheels on a project and going nowhere fast.

–A colleague who referred to her days as inefficient—bouncing from one thing to another and not getting anything fully completed.

As I thought about how to help these people, I was reminded again of something we as professional coaches often experience.  When common themes start showing up in our clients, it’s a signal to investigate the same theme in our own lives. “Know thyself” is a great piece of advice. Where was I feeling stuck? Where was I working hard but not getting results? How balanced did I feel?

This is something you may have experienced as well.  What trends have you been noticing in others that may be an internal signal for yourself?

Here are three ways to know when to grab for the mask:

  1. You find yourself coaching everyone on the same focus topic
  2. You feel off—not at your best—over time
  3. You aren’t sleeping well

And here are three ways to begin a course correction:

  1. Be aware—notice it. Claim it.
  2. Breathe deeply—it is one of the best ways to reconnect brain and body, and can be done anywhere and anytime.
  3. Practice the three Ps: Pause, Pray, and Ponder (or meditate)

Know when to reach for the oxygen mask. Take care of yourself so that you can continue to serve others. And don’t forget to breathe!

About the Author

Patricia OverlandPatricia Overland is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team.  Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.

5 thoughts on “Coaching Others? Put Your Own Mask on First

  1. I rather like the SWA flight attendants who say “if the oxygen mask drops down, after you stop screaming, then help anyone near you needing help……”

  2. Life is imperfect so there are bound to be times when our own resources mean that we are less well placed to support, challenge and offer a different perspective to others. Maybe scaling could work where10 is “top of my game” and 1 is “I need to press the pause button, I think that I’m showing signs of burn out”. Pushing yourself when your resources are depleted is, in my view, where I run the risk of performing poorly as a coach. I’ve definitely been down to a 3 and up to an 8. Noticing and taking action is what matters.

  3. Pingback: Sticky Solutions - Center for Executive Excellence

Leave a Reply