Why Ignoring the Oxygen Mask Theory is Catastrophic

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the concept of taking care of ourselves, refueling so to speak, over the last month or so. I’ve been busier than usual, spent a ton of time in the car lately, and my nights have gotten shorter (late to bed, early to rise!)

And I keep reminding myself of one of the things I tell my coaching clients and workshop attendees frequently.    Don’t forget the Oxygen Mask Theory.  You must put your oxygen mask on first before you can help others with theirs.  Why? Because if you don’t put your mask on first, you might pass out, and if you pass out, you won’t be able to help anyone else. AND then someone now has to help you!

It’s that last part that makes the concept of taking care of YOU FIRST so important to those of us who prefer taking care of others. And it’s high time I take my own advice.

If we don’t take care of ourselves, someone else will have to.

In a workshop a few months ago, one of the attendees made the comment that she would take care of herself when everyone else stopped needing her.  At first, I thought she was talking about a future time when her kids were grown and living on their own when her nest became empty.  Not an ideal situation, but at least she had a future plan.

But a little bit later in the conversation, she revealed that her nest was already empty but now she’s taking care of grandkids and people at her church and other family members.  Good grief, I thought, this poor woman will never be able to take care of herself if she waits for others to stop needing her.

Turns out, she was ‘joking’ about taking care of herself when others stopped needing her. She didn’t want that to happen and was going to do everything in her power to see to it that it never did.  She said that by taking care of others, she was taking care of herself because that’s what she loved to do.  Makes sense. In a way.  But not really.

I asked her a few more questions. When was the last time you slept late or took an afternoon nap? Have you had any alone time lately? How about a bubble bath or mani-pedi?  By now, she was looking at me like I had 3 heads.  ‘Are you kidding?’ she said. ‘I barely have time to brush my teeth; when would I ever have time to do that kind of stuff?  Besides, I’m not really into that sort of self-indulgent stuff.’

And then it hit me!

THAT’S exactly why so many of us, especially women, have fallen into the pattern of taking care of everyone else before we take care of ourselves.

We’ve become conditioned to think that taking care of ourselves as being self-indulgent, luxurious, and decadent.

And by labeling self-care as such, we steer clear.  Add to that, the deep-rooted need many of us have for being needed, a sincere desire to add value and carry our own weight, and the drive to not give in, we will likely continue putting others needs before our own, even if it is that oxygen mask on the plane.


Well, at least until………


Read Camille’s story.

She was a nurturer, a caregiver. All her life, she had been taking care of her husband, her children, their children, her parents, her sisters, and brothers, and later in life, even some aunts and uncles who didn’t have anyone else to care for them.

Camille rarely did anything for herself. She ran from one place to the next, helping anyone she could.  Friends and family kept telling Camille to take a break; relax; get some rest. ‘Do something for yourself, Camille,’ they’d say. ‘Don’t forget to take care of Camille, too,’ she’d be told.


But she didn’t listen.  It was right about the time her husband, Arnold, had begun needing more care than before. Arnold had broken his hip a few months ago, and the healing was slow.  His mobility was impaired, he had to have help with lots of things still, and it was taking its toll on Camille.

Unfortunately, before Camille could put on her own oxygen mask, she collapsed.  She had literally run herself ragged and needed fluids, and lots of bed rest.  Camille’s family and friends all jumped in to help and while appreciative, Camille was also very aware that she had caused others to have to take care of her.


Camille felt bad for inconveniencing others, but she now understood the oxygen mask theory.


I don’t want to be Camille.  I don’t want someone else to have to take care of me (although it’s nice for a minute).  I’m betting you don’t want to be Camille, either. If someone is having to take care of me because I didn’t take care of myself, who else is not getting the attention they need because of me?  I don’t want to have to think about it.


Take care of yourself. Take a break. Grab a nap. Hideout for a little bit. Take a bubble bath. Whatever helps you refuel. But remember you MUST refuel before you can continue taking care of someone else.

You can’t help others if you pass out because you didn’t put your oxygen mask on first. You can’t fill someone else’s glass if your pitcher is empty. None of us can.  Take care of YOU. FIRST.

I’m on a quest.  Want you join me?Mindy McCorkle Signature

You know how I feel? NOT!

We’ve all heard it. ‘I know how you feel.’ We’ve probably all said it. But do we really?   How can we know how someone else feels?

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about a conversation I had recently with a potential coaching client.  As we talked about the coaching process and what would be expected of her as the coachee, she kept saying, ‘I know!’

I told her the process would be difficult, especially in the beginning.  She responded with ‘I know.’  I explained that much of the work she’d need to do would take real courage.  She again said, ‘I know.’

I counted. And in a 20-minute conversation, she said ‘I know’ 12 times.  Every 1.67 minutes, she said ‘I know.’

And I can’t stop thinking about that conversation.

I didn’t take the coaching job with her; I declined.  And I did so because she isn’t ready to be coached.  That’s a critical component of the coaching process. Much like an addict that can’t quit until they are ready to quit, we can’t be coached until we are ready to admit we have a problem that we need help with.

You see, she was an ‘I know’ person.  While there are times when ‘I know’ is an appropriate response, when used in certain situations, it can be perceived as condescending and trite.

A few days before that conversation, this same subject came up with a dear friend.  She was frustrated with a conversation she’d had with someone close to her.  The other person had conveyed angst about a situation in her life, and in an attempt to express understanding, my friend responded with ‘I know how you feel.  I’ve been through the same thing.’  That response was met with contempt, and my friend didn’t understand why.

Now, I’m not a mind reader or a psychologist. I can’t say for sure why some people respond the way they do. But here’s a few things I think apply to many conversations.

I know how you feel. But do you?

First of all:

Can we really know how someone else feels?You can't say for certain that they ‘know’ how someone else feels. yourlifeenhanced.net
I don’t think so!

I don’t think anyone can truly ‘know’ how someone else feels, even if it appears that you’ve been through the exact same situation.  We all feel things differently. None of our brains work the exact same way. We all have different DNA, different personalities, and different influences. While the scenario may seem similar – may, in fact, be almost exact – each of us feels differently about it.

The mother whose teenage daughter stays out past curfew may feel fear that something has happened to her child. She may feel anger that her daughter disobeyed the rules. She may feel both.  But the level of fear and anger is not the same for each person.

The friend who loses a parent to cancer may feel relief that her mom’s suffering is over. Or immense grief at the loss. She may feel numb; or angry at the medical professionals for not doing more to save her mother. She may feel abandoned by her mom. Or some combination of all of those.  But even if you’ve lost your mother, too, chances are what you felt is NOT exactly the same as what your friend is feeling. Saying ‘I know’ isn’t a true statement.

I don’t think anyone can accurately say for certain that they ‘know’ how someone else feels.


‘I know’ doesn’t always feel good when it reaches the ears of the listener.

Think back to the coaching discussion I mentioned earlier. The potential client I was talking to appeared to know it all already so I didn’t think I could help her.

Now consider this scenario.

You’re chatting with a co-worker about a challenge you’re dealing with in your job. You mention that it’s a difficult situation because the outcome is so critical to the company. Your co-worker responds with ‘I know it is.’

What value did those 4 words add to the conversation?  Zero. Nada. No value at all.

It may seem on the surface as it if validates your comment about the impact to the business but does it really? You already know the outcome is critical so does someone else’s statement of that really matter?  I don’t think so.

Now consider the co-worker had instead said ‘You’re right! It is critical.’ That statement validates your assessment of the situation. And it simply feels better to hear.   It’s less assumptive, less arrogant, more complimentary, and makes you more likable and relatable.

So, here’s what I’m going to work on.

Life. Enhanced. and its Parent Company, Enhancement Talent Development, LLC, may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website.

I’m going to stop assuming I know how someone else feels.  I don’t. I can’t. And saying that I do isn’t honest or helpful.

And I’m going to be the ‘You’re right’ person, instead of an ‘I know’ person.

What about you? What do you think? Are you an ‘I know’ person or a ‘You’re right!’ person?

Crap You Need to Know About that Dang Corporate Ladder

During a class I was teaching the other day, one of the attendees said his goal was to climb straight up the corporate ladder. It was one of those rare times that I held my tongue even though the words were floating around in my mouth, dying to get out. But the time and place weren’t right for me to voice my opinion, and I’d never want to suck the wind out of an attendee’s sail so I sat silent. But as soon as I got back to my office, I started writing this post.

Here’s the crap you need to know about that dang corporate ladder!


Getting to the top of the ladder might be our goal, but we need to first understand why we want to be at the top. WHY? Power? Prestige? Or is it because we have a skewed perception of climbing the corporate ladder means?

It’s probably a combination. But before you set your site on the ladder, here are a few things to consider.

Crap You Need to Know About that Dang Corporate Ladder
First of all, that ladder rarely goes straight up.

There are often zig-zag involved, and if you aren’t expecting them, they can knock you right off your climb.

Paul was one of those that unfortunately, wasn’t prepared for the zig-zags. He was the manager of a retail chain store when he started focusing on climbing that dang ladder.  He wanted to be President of the company one day.

His store led the region in sales and the regional VPs were taking notice, so he thought he was on his way.

Paul eventually was promoted to a Regional Manager where he oversaw multiple stores in a geographic region. Not long after that, he was promoted again to Regional VP so now he had 9 Regional Managers reporting to him.  He was ecstatic and just new within a few years, he’d be one of the 3 EVPs in the company.

But the company went through a restructuring no long after he stepped into the VP role and that resulted in closing a handful of stores in most regions.  Since Paul was the newest Regional VP, he was asked to step into a Regional Training role as they no longer needed quite as many RVPs.

Paul was devastated.

He felt like he had been knocked off the ladder altogether.  He took the training position but his heart wasn’t in it. It was a lateral move and that felt to him like a step back.  And he hated that he no longer had a VP title.

You see, Paul was focused on the title. If he had been focused on learning all the roles in the organization to be better prepared to step into that President role one day, he’d have seen the training role as a learning opportunity.

He left the company not long after that in search of an organization where he could get higher on the ladder quicker.

He was focused on getting to the top of the ladder but was not prepared for the zig.


It can be lonely at the top.It can be lonely at the top. yourlifeenhanced.net

And you don’t have to make it all the way to the top rung to start feeling the loneliness. As you progress in your career, you may feel as if you are leaving your work friends behind.

And there is often less fulfillment at the ‘top’ of the ladder than you expected and that can create feelings of isolation and even despair.

A good friend of mine struggled with this very thing.  After a promotion, Sarah was still gravitating to some of her old co-worker friends because she didn’t feel comfortable with her new co-workers quite yet.  Her boss noticed and suggested she stop hanging out with her previous co-workers because it was giving the perception that she wasn’t engaged in her new role.

This made Sarah feel even more like she was abandoning her friends and made her second guess her decision to take a new position.


The journey can be lonely, too.

Especially if you are climbing for the wrong reasons. If it’s just for power and status, you likely won’t savor the journey. And that may make you less than wonderful to work with or for. Aside from being less connected with some of your work friends, you are also likely feeling more and more pressure, taking on greater responsibilities, and learning the ropes in a new role – all of which can be very stressful. And stress often creates a lonely feeling even if we are surrounded by tons of people.


Our expectations may get crushed.

Often, we have an unreal view of what the ‘top’ looks like.  We may see visions of flexible schedules. Or being able to fix the problems with protocol that you encountered on your journey. Your schedule may be more of your own choosing than a mandated schedule. But you also likely have more people counting on you. You may be able to fix some of the issues you are aware of, but unless you are THE only decision maker, it probably won’t be as easy as you hoped.

So what do we do? Scrap any dream of moving up the ladder and just stay where we are?  NOT AT ALL.


You do have to really think through the journey and the destination. Make sure you are going after what you really want, and not what you think you should go after.

Try to get a sneak peek. Ask to shadow those in roles that you hope to be in one day. Interview them to learn about the responsibilities and their challenges.

And don’t worry so much about moving UP. Focus on moving to the role that best fits your skills and strengths; the one that will light your fire and keep it lit.

If we are climbing for the right reasons, the journey will be challenging and rewarding.  If we climb just for the destination, the rungs on that dang ladder might seem pretty far apart.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the journey and the destination!Mindy McCorkle Signature


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No More Good Luck!

Good luck?

Why do we say ‘good luck?’ I hear people say it to athletes before a game, to performers before a performance, to friends before an interview.  But no more ‘good luck’ from me!

I was getting ready to start a keynote one night and the host said ‘good luck’ as I was walking on stage.

The hotel desk attendant told me good luck the other day as he knew I was headed out to teach a class.

After telling a friend about a new initiative that I was working on for my company, she wished me luck.

I understand.  It’s become like answering ‘fine’ when someone asks you how you are.

It’s habit, and acceptable.

Like saying ‘good luck’ to someone getting ready to take an exam.

I’ve thought a lot about what telling someone ‘good luck’ implies and I’ve decided to stop saying it.  For literal thinkers (like me!), it can imply that luck is needed to succeed at whatever it is the person is getting ready to do.

And when I think about those times others have said it to me, I’m not crazy about it.  Sure, it’s a nice gesture. But does that mean the host of the event where I was the keynote speaker thought I needed luck to give a killer presentation?  I certainly hope not!


I’m going to stop saying it.

no more good luck yourlifeenhanced.net

I won’t wish someone good luck going forward.  Instead, I’ll replace it with something more positive and inspirational.

Perhaps something like ‘I know you’ll succeed!’ or ‘You’ll be great, I know!’  Or maybe ‘you’ve got what it takes’ or simply ‘you’ve got this!’ Yep, that’s what I’m going to do.

What do you think? How do you feel when someone tells you ‘good luck?’ Does it make you feel better? Or inspire you? Or does it just feel like an obligatory phrase?  Share your thoughts!Mindy McCorkle Signature

When Passion Causes Pain

When passion causes pain?

We are all passionate about something. It could be what we do for a living or a hobby; perhaps a philanthropic focus. For many of us, our passion is what drives us.  For some of us, our passion can cause pain – to others and to ourselves.

What?  Passion is a good thing! How can it be painful?

When Passion Causes Pain header yourlifeenhanced.net

As I said, passion drives us. And sometimes that passion can put us in overdrive. It can make us oblivious to how the effects of our passion impact others.


Emily’s story:

Emily* took a brave step a few years ago and quit her corporate job to pursue a life of environmental advocacy. I admire her so much and so do many others who know her.

She’s so very passionate about promoting eco-friendly living, and following her travels and stories on social media is fascinating.


She’s SO passionate that she’s alienated some of her followers.

Recently she posted that she was headed from point A to point C by traveling through point B. Point B is a destination that is on many travelers’ bucket lists. One person posted that she was jealous of Emily for getting to go to point B and couldn’t wait to hear about that part of Emily’s trip.

Emily then proceeded to rant about why she was morally and politically opposed to point B but had no choice but to travel through that location to reach her final destination. She went on about point B being environmentally evil and socially unsustainable.

I don’t know enough about the situation to dispute those points and trust Emily’s expertise in that area so those were likely very legitimate points.  Great.

But reading her response to someone else’s excitement about the location in question made me uncomfortable. And a little angry. How dare her poo-poo someone else’s bucket list item.  It just felt mean, even though I know it came directly from Emily’s immense passion.

That’s what I mean by ‘Passion can cause pain.’

The commenter likely felt downplayed and belittled by Emily’s response to the comment.

*Name has been changed for anonymity purposes.

My story:

I’m very passionate about helping others grow – personally and professionally.  It’s one of the reasons I offer coaching services through my core business (Enhancement Talent Development). I’m so passionate about coaching others that I sometimes forget to stop coaching.

The other day, I was having a conversation with a friend. She was going through a difficult situation at work and just wanted to vent.  But as soon as she started talking, I started thinking about how I could help her.  I heard myself giving her career advice (that she DIDN’T ask for) and coaching her to do this and stop doing that.  Ugh!

I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had just got up and left me sitting there with egg on my face.  She didn’t ask to be coached. And she didn’t want to be coached. She simply wanted a friend and I lost sight of that. I’m betting that conversation was painful for her!

And still…..

A few days later, I was chatting with my sister about something she was irritated about.  And again, I heard the familiar sounds of my passion spewing from my mouth.  ‘Think about this. Don’t worry about that. This is what’s important,’ I kept saying to her. She’s gracious and thoughtful so she didn’t say anything but while I was driving home I thought to myself ‘why can’t I just listen? Why do I always have to try to coach people?’

And as I pondered those questions, I came to a realization.

I’m so passionate about what I do and it’s something that I’m really great at (even though it took me years to be able to own that about myself) that I let my passion take over.

Another example of when ‘Passion can cause pain.’

We often forget that those around us may not share our passion. And may not want to participate in our passion. They may wish we’d just put it on a shelf sometimes, or lock it away in a closet for a bit.

For me, I know if I don’t pay attention to this, I could cause some of the great people in my life to not want to be around me much and that would cause ME pain!

I need to learn to curb my passion in times where it’s not needed or not appropriate.  I’m not saying that I’ll squelch it. Just that I’m going to be more cognizant of times when it may get in the way of doing for others what they need me to do. I don’t want my passion to cause others pain.

Do you let your passion cause pain sometimes? How do you keep yourself from getting too passionate to see other points of view?

You’re Causing Your Own Stress!

Stress doesn’t ‘happen’ to you; you INVITE it in. If you are really stressed out, it’s likely your fault!

Some stress is good – it keeps us on our toes and pushes us towards our goals.

But it can get overwhelming when it seems to rule our life. IF we LET IT. IF! So don’t let it!


Consider this:

There are victims of crime. There are victims of domestic violence. And there are victims of horrific events.



I often hear people say things like ‘this has been the worst month; I’ll be glad when it’s over’ or ‘nothing is going right for me; I’m so stressed!’

Really? Is it the month that is the problem? NO!  It’s how we react to the things that happen that cause the most stress.  And when nothing is going right, there’s a reason for most of it.


Take Jane.

She kept talking about all the yucky things that had happened to her during the month. She got a flat tire, spilled coffee on her white blouse on the way to work, locked herself out of the house, left her lunch at home several times, and her son had been battling a double ear infection.

Now to be fair, none of those things are fun. But to blame it on the month is just ridiculous.

Flat tires happen. Change it and move on.

Spill something on your white blouse? Probably because you were hurrying or doing too many things at once. Slow down.

The same could probably be said for locking yourself out of the house or forgetting your lunch!

And kids get sick.  It’s a fact of life. It stinks. But it happens.  I’m tempted to say ‘get over it’ here but that would be mean.


Seriously though:

When we play the victim – what I call the ‘poor pitiful me’ syndrome – we just increase our stress.

When we tell ourselves that ‘nothing is going right’ – well, we’ve just told our brain that we’re stressed and put it out there in the universe that ‘nothing is going to go right.’ Eeek!

If you think that giving in to the irritating stuff that happens to us, and talking about them in a negative, doesn’t impact your stress level,  you are 100% wrong.  It does!

Now, I’m not a brain expert – some days I feel like I don’t even have one!

But I know that when we say negative things, focus on the crap that happens in our daily lives, and let those crappy things get us in a funk, it impacts every aspect of our lives.

It increases our stress. Makes it harder to see the good. Creates an environment of negativity that affects all those around us.

And let’s face it. Successful people know the power of positivity and they stay away from those that wallow in the negative.

If we were to, instead, tell our brain that ‘crap happens but it’s no big deal’ we would be reducing our stress level and helping our brains stay on a positive path.

I know I say this all the time but people, it’s real.



When we wish for the month, the week, or the day to be over – we’re just wishing out life away. And life is too short as it is!


So STOP playing the victim, stop talking about how many things have gone wrong, and learn to roll with the punches.  Learn to laugh at the mishaps. Start talking about the good things that happen instead.  Because you are LISTENING!!

More on this topic!

Share your thoughts on managing stress! Mindy McCorkle Signature

How to Accept a Compliment like a SUPERSTAR!

Some people don’t accept compliments very well.  It can be uncomfortable, right? But have you ever wondered how some people can be so gracious when complimented and others seem to twitch in their skin? Why is that? Read on to learn more. How to Accept a Compliment like a SUPERSTAR!


Does this sound familiar?


Friend: I love that dress, Kathy! It looks great on you!

Kathy: Thanks! It was on sale and it’s black so it’s hiding all my bulges.


Or this:

Co-worker: Hey, Sherry. Great job on that big project! You are so creative.

Sherry: Thank you. I really just duplicated what we did on the last one and tweaked it a little bit. No big deal.


What about this?

Neighbor: Tom, your yard looks fantastic!

Tom: Thanks! I spend most of my spare time weeding and edging and trimming the shrubs.




Whatever happened to a simple ‘thank you’?


Why do we feel the need to explain or elaborate?


Here are a few reasons some of us have a hard time just saying thank you when someone compliments us.


  1. Distrust

We don’t trust that the person is being sincere or we believe they may be buttering us up because they want something from us.  Sometimes that’s true, but isn’t that more of an issue for them than it is for us?


  1. It makes us uncomfortable.

That’s likely the case for a lot of people, but why?  We may feel we don’t deserve the recognition; that we’re a fraud if we accept it unconditionally. And when we feel like a fraud, we worry about being found out.


  1. Lack of confidence


Lack of confidence ties to being uncomfortable. When we aren’t confident, we tend to be really uncomfortable when compliments are tossed our way because we think we don’t deserve them. Hence the need to ‘explain.’


  1. We feel obligated to reciprocate.


When someone we don’t know well or don’t particularly like, gives us a compliment, we may feel uncomfortable because we feel obligated to return the compliment. And if we don’t know or like the giver, we may squirm at the thought of making something up or saying something we don’t mean.


  1. We’re out of practice.


Breaking any habit takes time. And when we get in the habit of explaining when complimented, it takes practice to break that habit.  When we’re young and are just learning to say thank you when someone compliments us, we don’t feel the need to explain.  We simply say, ‘thank you.’ But once we start elaborating, we tend to keep it up.


a simple thank you the most appropriate response yourlifeenhanced.netWhy is a simple thank you the most appropriate response?

Take the example with Kathy from earlier.  Her friend complimented her dress but Kathy felt the need to say it was on sale and since it’s black, it’s forgiving of her imperfections.  The friend didn’t ask if it was on sale. And the friend – unless she is color-blind – can see that the dress is black. So, the friend may not compliment her again.  Geez, who wants to hear all that?

Sherry’s response wasn’t any better.  She poo-pooed her co-worker’s accolades by saying it was no big – when her co-worker clearly thought it was.  Bet that co-worker doesn’t compliment too many more times.


a simple thank you the most appropriate response yourlifeenhanced.net


Don’t explain. Don’t disagree. Just a simple polite ‘thank you’ and that’s it.

It’s more gracious and more confident. And the compliment giver will appreciate you accepting their opinion as valid.


Say it with me now.

Thank you!Mindy McCorkle Blog Signature