Are you feeling a certain amount of overwhelm in your life? Are you working long hours? Saying yes to everything, yet wishing you could say no at times? Did you miss lunch… again… because the report you’re working on needs rework and there’s a deadline? Are there just not enough hours in the day, in the week to work, play, sleep and breathe?
Meet TOMM © as TOMM© can help you. Let me tell you how I met TOMM© and introduce you too. Like you, I lead a busy life, balancing family, work, friends, study, writing, speaking and all the fulfilling things I choose to do. A few months ago, I was simply doing too much… of everything. Typically the balance in my life works reasonably well. Not this time. I had a massive ‘diary fail’ when I was on 8 flights within 3 weeks. I had ‘forgotten’ how to say ‘no’ and ‘not right now’.
If you travel, you’ll probably be familiar with the safety instructions at the start of each flight… yes, the part where most people keep reading their work documents, book or inflight magazine. Not this time though; on one of the flights, the safety instructions shouted to me: “Please ensure you put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping anyone else with theirs.” I thought: “Are you talking to me?!” It seemed they had a message for me and I was listening…
How can you help or motivate others if you’re not helping or motivated yourself?
I thought about how counter-intuitive that is and know that, were I to be travelling with my family, I’d instinctively help my children with their masks first. I also thought how useless that could be if I ran out of oxygen whilst doing it. For the first time I connected how in those over-scheduled weeks, I was helping others put their oxygen masks on each day and neglecting my own. I connected this to the behaviour of leaders I meet who want to motivate their people and teams in challenging and sometimes very difficult times, taking on too much strain. They, too, are helping others with their masks whilst neglecting their own.
The Oxygen Mask Metaphor
Here’s where TOMM ©comes in: The Oxygen Mask Metaphor. I thought about what it would mean for me to put my own mask on first. I struggled for a while, thinking about how could I do that? What would it really mean? Would it be selfish? What would I have to let go of? To what would I have to say no? What would I change or add to my life in order to breathe more easily and therefore help others by being the very example of the change they seek also? A change had to happen so I went ahead and ‘put my own mask on first’ and that made me take action. I got through the schedule, made some simple and obvious changes, significantly reducing the feeling of overwhelm. Turned out they were pretty simple changes and involved decision-making, prioritisation and communication.
If you’re in a position of leading, motivating, communicating, influencing others, ask yourself these 3 questions:
- What would it mean for me to put on my own mask first?
- What changes do I choose to make so that I can do that?
- What are my next steps?
Put on your own mask first before reaching to help others with theirs. You’ll do a much better job with TOMM©.
Photo credit – Grace Sansom