In order for hard work and success to be sustainable, we must have a foundation of strength and health. It's almost impossible to take care of our businesses, our teams, or our families unless we also take care of ourselves. At least, not for very long. Many before me have compared this rule to the airplane safety lecture we get when we are told to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs.
Since I’m always trying to add value, I feel an almost competitive obligation to find an original life balance takeaway from the flight attendant opening speech. I realize this is limited territory; unless of course you haven’t been in a car since 1958 and don’t know how to use a seatbelt.
Here it is:
Know your exits and have multiple options.
With so many external pressures and responsibilities, it’s only natural that we’ll have moments when we seriously question if we can do it all. The cup is not just full, but pouring over the edges and we’re not sure how to stop the overflow. As comedian Steven Wright says, "That feeling you get when you lean back on your chair and you catch yourself just before you fall."
Sometimes, the advice of “just meditate” may not cut it. Feeling overwhelmed and time-crunched, you also know that going to the spa or even taking a walk is so not happening anytime soon. You'd love to get away from it all, but yeah.... no.
“Exiting” by definition requires starting from the inside and going out. We’re talking about times when physically leaving the situation is just not possible. Rather, we need to depart the internal frustration, negativity, stress, depression or “I’m gonna lose it” feeling.
Everyone has different strategies which work for them. And, different things are effective in different situations. The key is knowing where your exits are before you actually need to use them. Notice that you get the exit speech and double pointing fingers when the plane is still on solid ground.
My assignment to you is to consciously think of five ways you can almost instantly change your view of the world, even when you can’t change your world.
Here are my “exits":
1. Thinking of my happiest, funniest, goofiest memories. Sometimes the closest exit is behind us.
2. Asking, is this life or death? It may sound morbid, but sometimes this requires thinking of an actual “life or death” moment to create instant perspective. (Like my experience in Cannes which I will tell you about next week.)
3. Getting help. If you can't get out by yourself, call for assistance. Because I was forced to be so self-sufficient as a kid, it took me many years to realize that asking for help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. Even when I can't get someone to physically help me, just being able to vent and get support over the phone (usually while multi-tasking) saves me.
4. Counting to 10. Call me old fashioned, but it works. I think of it as a 10-second meditation.
5. Naming that tune. Yes, I actually sing. For some reason, “You & Me Against the World” by Helen Reddy always does the trick. Weird choice, I know. But I’ve been singing that song to feel better since it came out in 1974. For fire emergencies, I prefer "Disco Inferno."
When you really need to "get away," find the best (and healthiest) exit as quickly as possible leaving all emotional baggage behind. Bon voyage!