If you’ve ever been on a plane, you’ve heard the preflight safety demonstration, where flight attendants encourage passengers to review safety instructions on the card in the seatback facing them, or to notify them that their seat cushion can be used as a flotation device, or to remain seated with seatbelt fastened should there be a patch of “rough air.” This all happens before takeoff as the plane is taxiing toward the runway, ready to lift up in the friendly skies and carry me, a person terrified of flying, to a spot 30,000 feet above the ground. 

I pay attention to the instructions like my life depends on it, because, I mean, I guess it does. As I look around, I notice some people have already fallen asleep before the wheels even lift off. I want nothing more than their relaxed state in this situation where my hatred of a lack of control is on full display on a plane full of people. But one thing that sticks with me in the safety demonstration is the instruction to secure your oxygen mask before you help anyone else with theirs. Because you are no use to anyone if you are passed out on the floor.

As individuals who are part of families and communities and workplaces, we often forget that we need to practice self-care. We get so involved in managing things for others, whether it’s our children’s schedules, a project deadline at work, service on a committee, or the variety of things that pull our attention in different directions, that we forget to ask ourselves what we need. We forget to put on our oxygen mask first, and that can sometimes literally mean the difference between life and death.

How are we as businesses putting on our oxygen masks? Are we trying to manage everything for everyone else and finding in the meantime that we are not handling anything we need? How could we start looking internally to secure our needs to grow stronger from the inside out?

It’s a challenge. We are learning how to do this at Forum as well. For 2023, we are leaning in to the idea of “working smarter, not harder.” We are encouraging each team member to contribute their strengths, whether it’s writing, designing and project managing, to do what they love most while helping account managers put on their oxygen masks and not feel like they have to do everything for every client. For some people, writing ad copy might take hours. For others, it may take 30 minutes. So we restructured into teams so that those who enjoy writing get to write more. Those who enjoy project management get to do that more. Those who want to be involved in company culture can focus their attention on that as well. It’s hard to let go of control of doing everything, but when you are able to do that, there is freedom in the deep breath that can provide.

To get even more granular, how many of you handle every task in your household or even in your individual life? How many of you have gotten in the practice of doing everything for your partner or your children and maybe have not noticed that they are capable enough to take on some of the responsibility themselves? How freeing it would be (for you) and empowering (for others who live with you) to divide and conquer. A ship can sail with only a captain, but it’s a lonely trip to be sure, and the boat is much more secure with a team of shipmates working in tandem. What would happen if you let go of something small? Letting go of that one thing and trusting it to someone who cares for you can be the change in balance that allows you to keep all those plates spinning.

At an agency as busy as Forum, it could be easy to get lost in the “busy-ness” of the day to day. But we know that to be our strongest as a team, we need to practice the “self-care” that can come from team building and supporting each other as friends and not just colleagues. Forum is a stronger business not just for the creative minds that give their devotion to their clients daily but because we recognize our humanity in each other, and we celebrate the mountaintops and support in the valleys. 

During a particularly stressful week, I had someone ask me, “Are you practicing self-care today? What do you need to do to have 15 minutes of it? How can I help you do that?” These questions might seem silly, but they turned my day around. As an enneagram 2 (which is another blog post altogether), I have trouble accepting help sometimes. But when I DO finally acquiesce to a kind teammate wanting to be helpful, it’s amazing what a relief it is.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie “Jerry McGuire” is when Tom Cruise’s sports agent character McGuire is basically screaming in to the phone with Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s football star Rod Tidwell to “Help me [Cruise] help you [Gooding, Jr.].” Sometimes I feel like we as humans need to have someone say that to us. Only slightly less difficult is actually letting them help when they offer…or knowing when to outsource help when it’s needed. 

In business, it’s the same. One project or event, no matter how straightforward or simple it seems, can be the thing that sets the whole day on fire. That’s where an agency like Forum can help. Not sure what to do for social media? We have a plan for that. Launching a capital campaign? We do that too. Want to put together a large event for the community but haven’t the slightest idea where to start? Need a yearlong strategy so you can leave the marketing up to someone else and just focus on running your business? Yep. You guessed it. Put on your oxygen mask first by reaching out to us. I promise you that nothing you’d bring our way is something we haven’t handled before. And…it’s what we do.

Sometimes the most challenging thing a company can conquer is figuring out how to share their strengths with the community in new and varied ways, especially as the world is constantly and rapidly changing. If you are struggling with how best to market your business, Forum is able to help with that. We can help manage the turbulence while you take a breath. Sometimes self-care means outsourcing, and that doesn’t mean you are less than. It means you are practicing wisdom.