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Put Your Own Mask on First

Last night, I went to dinner with my family for the first time in months at a small family-owned restaurant in Mississippi.

It was much, much different.

No menus, distanced tables, masks, questionnaires, disposable serving tools, backdoor exiting... an example that the world is a different place than it was three months ago. There is no way to know what the new "normal" will be. But we move on. Through mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, furloughs, home school, virtual proms and graduation - we continue.

I was once at a company that was going through a difficult acquisition (most professionals have experienced this at least once) and there was an interim period in which we didn't know who (if

anyone) retained their positions in the new organization. As a leader in the company, the HR Director and I assumed the rally cry "Put Your Own Mask on First." In a pre-COVID society, this referred to the flight attendants and their instruction to take care of yourself before helping others. Our goal at this time was to provide tools to help individuals drive their own professional self-care and take the opportunity to sharpen, grow, and obtain skills to enhance their career objectives. We held training, offered software, and supported professional development as much as possible.

Today, that same rally cry holds a new reflection, with the same meaning. It is easy during this time of crisis to neglect yourself. We see loved ones hurting - and we might be hurting too. I encourage you to find ways to rest and stay healthy, but also to seek opportunities to stay sharp. Learn a new skill, topic, or trade. Put on your own mask first and protect your professional life. Then find ways to help others. If you need help, we can point you in the right direction, but move forward. Embrace the change ... and wash your hands!

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