Make Sure You’re Okay

Wednesday 30 July, 2014

The inspiration for this post comes from the very beginning of my training, almost 15 years ago. It was the first men’s group I attended, a few weeks before I began writing my journal. As the newest member of the group and the youngest by a number of years, it was a new experience for me and I was unsure of the format and my place in the evening’s events. So I sought solace and security in my default behaviour: say nothing and watch what happens, all the while looking for clues on how to behave and how best to fit in. I have two main memories of the occasion. The first relates to the goals I had been asked to write down prior to the group. The other is of an answer to a question, the simplicity and power of which has stayed with me ever since.

We were in the middle of the session when one of the group, Naveen, made a straightforward inquiry: ‘My wife is due to give birth to our first child; a boy. How can I make sure my son will be okay in life?’ In the briefest of moments before Karaj answered, I remember thinking that whatever he is about to say will tell me much of what I need to know. I sat forward a little, fully expecting it to be a long and detailed response; perhaps even a bespoke answer, specifically tailored to Naveen’s personal journey. But, of course, it was neither long nor detailed. Instead, it was beautifully concise: Make sure you’re okay. That was it, and I’ve never forgotten it. Everything I did after that was done with the goal of making sure I’m okay.

You may think it’s a selfish attitude, but there’s nothing selfish about it when done properly. Every time you fly, the safety instructions tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping other people. The reasoning is that if you behave in a way which causes harm to yourself, how can you possibly help anyone else? That same logic applies equally to life. You can look after yourself without taking away from others. In fact, if we take care of ourselves in the right way, we are much more able to contribute to other people in a positive and uplifting manner. For example, from the feedback I received about the previous post, ‘300 Days’, it’s clear that a number of people were inspired to help themselves with their own exercise routine. Whatever you do, make sure you’re okay.

Related posts: Make It All About You | Be True To Who You Think You Are | Only You Can Fully Know What You Need
Related articles: Givers, Takers, and Matchers: The Surprising Science of Success | Is Giving The Secret To Getting Ahead?

2 Responses to “Make Sure You’re Okay”

  1. George Says:

    How true. On a simulated First Aid exercise I had to go through, we were always told to check the area before dealing with the casualty. However, I forgot to do so on one exercise. I had become lazy, forgetful, even ‘cocky’. As a result I was electrocuted as I had overlooked a ‘live cable’. It taught me not to rush in thinking I was doing good.
    So the practical is equally true as is the personal. We are of limited use to others if we have not ensured our own safety and wellbeing.

  2. Jonathan Lewis Says:

    That’s a great example. Thanks, George.
    In a similar way, research suggests that, in a world of givers and takers (and so-called matchers), the givers come off worst of all. But here’s the interesting part: they also come off best. The difference between the two is that the successful givers make sure they look after themselves, whereas the unsuccessful ones burn themselves out.
    See here for more details: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/04/10/adam-grant-give-and-take/

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