Coaching Others? Put Your Own Mask on First

June 13, 2017 Patricia Overland


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 Overland

Patricia Overland is a Senior Coach for The Ken Blanchard Companies. She is a frequent contributor to Blanchard’s LeaderChat blog and Revolve Blog for The Booth Company. Patricia has also had her work published in Chief Learning Officer magazine.

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