Lead Yourself First

Airplane Emergency CardShould the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the overhead compartment. Please place the mask over your nose and mouth before assisting children…or adults acting like children. – my JetBlue flight attendant

An airliner cruising at 30,000 ft experiences a rapid loss of pressurization. The air in the cabin thins from 15 PSI to less than 4 PSI in a matter of seconds. The overheads burst open and down come those famous yellow masks. People panic. The man in row 19, the one with the two kids, decides to help them first. While every other adult on the plane is scrambling to save themselves, he’s made the noble decision to save these children first.

The masks are a bit tangled, so it takes a little work to get them separated. Then the first child isn’t sitting calmly like the picture in the emergency card. And the strap isn’t even tight enough to stay on the child’s face. His fingers, which are turning blue-gray, start fumbling over the straps, and before he’s done with the task he becomes confused, disoriented and strangely euphoric. Oxygen-starved cells in his brain are ceasing to work properly. Hypoxia has set in. He’s useless.

Of course the drama ends when the flight attendant sees the situation and secures a mask over everyone’s face in row 19. She’s quick and the life-giving air brings everyone back to normal consciousness with no permanent damage done. Before you start to judge the man who “tried to be a hero”, consider these questions:

How do this man’s actions relate to how you lead?

What do you do to ensure you’re fit to lead/serve others?

What do you struggle the most with in this area?

7 thoughts on “Lead Yourself First”

  1. Dear Geoffrey,
    This is my first comment to this post. I always empower people with knowledge,awareness,recognition, respect. This makes them equipped and ready and they start trusting you. when they trust you, you can lead them. whether you are fit to lead or not ? You have to analyse the tools, strategy and resources require to lead and whether you have that capability or not. If you have capability, you can lead. You struggle the most to equip yourself. Without having capbility, competency and potential you can not lead. First convince yourself before convincing others. So belief and confidence are the most important things that people struggle before leading someone.

  2. Just finished reading “Season of Life” by Jeffrey Marx, and I can’t help but draw comparison because of your questions. Its a transcendent process, isn’t it? You have to learn the activity before you can administer it. Seems very simple. Leading is about getting out of the way (of yourself in this case) and engaging the appropriate person, groups, departments to perform the action for the benefit of the organization.

    Thoughtful questions. Thanks for posting.

    1. Matt – thanks for stopping by and sharing. I completely agree that leading is a lot about getting out the way (of yourself and then helping people get out of their own way).

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