Why the Oxygen Mask Theory is a Myth for High Performers

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Cover your nose and mouth with the mask. The bag may not inflate. Put on your own mask first before you help others. (HINT: You can’t save anyone if you’re dead.)

HIGH PERFORMERS: Yada, yada, yada. Challenge accepted.

The airplane oxygen mask has become the icon for the self-care movement, but (much like the pre-flight safety announcement) it’s largely ignored by high performers who have made their mark by sacrificing themselves in the service of others. We don’t need no stinkin’ oxygen masks. The air we’re breathing (or lack thereof) is just fine.

Except that it’s not.

When an airplane decompresses, you have about 18 seconds of “useful consciousness” before you become completely worthless to everyone. And in those 18 seconds of euphoric hypoxia, you can’t see that anything is seriously wrong.

Except that it is.

Down here on the ground, we aren’t gasping for air. We’re scrambling for time. Every day is too short, so we substitute coffee for sleep, early meetings for exercise, drive-thrus for sit-downs, apologies for kept promises, late night emails for downtime with the family. We’re so in it that we don’t see the damage we’re doing to our marriages, our health, our work product, and our full potential. We think we’re sacrificing for the long game, but we’re actually selling everything short—including (and especially) ourselves.

If those warning signs are flaring in your life, rise to the real challenge—and it isn’t to serve and save as many people as possible before you run out of steam. The challenge is to find ways to keep serving and saving while reviving yourself in the process. That’s the real long game.

Get more sleep. Drink more water. Take a long walk with your spouse. Turn your phone off. And put the damn mask on.



10x Your Day:

You’ve taken time out of your busy day to read this. I’m honored. Now honor yourself by taking a few minutes to do one or all of the following:

  • Close your eyes for a minute and celebrate your most recent win.

  • Cross one thing off your list that you WON’T do today.

  • Add “Dinner with the family” to today’s calendar (and tomorrow’s and…).

  • Drink a full glass of water.

  • Commit to going to bed at least 15 minutes earlier tonight

10x Your Week

Do you struggle with long work days, neglected workouts, missed deadlines, insufficient sleep, and no time for fun in your life? You don’t need more hours in a day. You need better ways to use them. Hundreds of entrepreneurs (who are also happy parents, community leaders, volunteers, and more), accomplish their lists with the same 24-hour day as you—and with a full night’s rest. They aren’t better or smarter than you. They just have better, smarter tools.

Like our Productivity Accelerator Course.

I’ve never met a high-performer who couldn’t get more out of their day with simple-but-hardcore adjustments to their routines, priorities, and tasks. The Productivity Accelerator is 8 weeks of ninja-level time management skills, whether you get it from my live courses or channel it into your schedule with the DIY version. You’ll start seeing results after the first course, and you’ll wonder what you ever did without it.

Ready to get more out of your day with more gas in your tank? Of course, you are. Click here to learn more.