“Put on your oxygen mask before helping the passenger next to you.”
That’s the directive you hear from a flight attendant as they review the safety instructions at the beginning of every flight. Whether you are a leader, manager, front-line fundraiser, or a person working behind the scenes pulling reports or sending stewardship letters it is important that you take care of yourself as you seek to care for others.
Self-care is very personal but in a time such as this, we can find ourselves flailing. Even though I’ve lived through 9/11, other epidemics, multiple market downturns, and the loss of all of my immediate family members, I found myself unsure how to live with the uncertainty of life that the Coronavirus has made even more palpable.
However, I knew I could not live in this limbo for long. I have a team of people with whom I work and I wanted and needed to be there with and for them. We work with University faculty and staff who address many of the kinds of issues being discussed today — the impact of inequity on healthcare access, disease research, food insecurity, and much more — secure funding to support their work so it is critical that we be able to move forward. I also have a family and I want to be my best for them.
It was as I wrote my monthly newsletter an idea came to me, I had to take care of me before I could care for anyone else. I had to determine what had enabled me to survive major losses and find a way to move forward. The following exercise is the one that came to mind and is what I shared with readers this week.
Time to put on your oxygen mask
1. Think about a difficult thing that happened in your life or
2. Identify a crisis that you have experienced.
3. Take out a pen and paper or your laptop.
4. Reflect on all that you have survived and then
5. Write thoughts about what helped you to not only survive but to thrive.
Once I did this for myself I identified a reservoir of attitudes, skills, and abilities that I could tap into that have enabled me to move forward. I entered the week with confidence even in the face of uncertainty, confidence that I had within me that which would enable me to move forward.
As important, I remembered that I am not on this journey alone. Working with a team, reading the writing of others, and participating in various online groups have all provided helpful insight and support.
In other words, we’ll all riding on this plane together.
Once we put on our own mask we can help one another. To that end I ask:
- What reservoir lies in you?
- What has helped you move forward in these trying times?
I hope that as my LinkedIn friend Shanna Hocking posted today, you will speak about what has helped you to move forward. If ever there was a time such sharing is needed it is now. We will save lives by remaining apart physically, but we can connect, support one another, and move forward together.
Wishing you strength, hope, and peace.