Grow Yourself First

(Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash)

I’ve got airplanes on my mind.

As a professional athlete, I flew a whole heck of a lot. And my job now as a sales consultant in the auto industry requires me to fly frequently as well. So, airplanes stay on my mind. If you’ve ever flown on a commercial plane, you’re aware that the flight attendants make several announcements prior to take-off. Including one that addresses oxygen masks in the unlikely event of an emergency. They politely remind you …

“In the event of an emergency, please be sure to
put your own mask on first before assisting anyone else.”

As a parent, this almost sounds backwards. Counterintuitive. Subconsciously, our instinct is to help our kids first. Why do they tell us this? There’s a why behind it all. In short, as a plane becomes depressurized, there’s an immediate lack of oxygen available. And if you don’t address your own needs first, you’ll eventually lose consciousness, losing any chance of helping your child or anybody else. But, if you take care of yourself first, your potential of helping others increases tenfold. Make sense?

As the great Richard Rierson once said, “You cannot grow others unless you grow yourself.”

Choose to put your oxygen mask on first.

It was quite an accomplishment to graduate from Wake Forest University (Go DEACS) in three years without reading an entire book. But it makes me sad that I wasted so much precious time and resources. My priority at the time was soccer. School was about getting by, not excelling. I wish I could go back. But I can’t. Unfortunately, life gives the test first and the lesson second. But we hopefully live and learn. So instead of living in regret, focusing on what could’ve or should’ve been, today, I choose to make the most of my life by fully engaging in the opportunities that come my way and seeking out new ones whenever possible.

I must put my own oxygen mask on first.

To fulfill God’s purposes for my life and become the best Wells Thompson I can be, I must continue to grow, to learn and to get out of my comfort zone. The goal isn’t simply for personal gain, to be known as a leader, but ultimately to give back. I want to positively impact and influence as many people as possible. (Thank you, God, for being so good to me! There’s always time for a praise/gratitude break!) You see, if gaining leads to giving, then it becomes purposeful. But if we seek to gain without giving, what a waste that is! For, as the wisest Teacher ever once said, “It’s truly better to give than to receive.”

Blessings come in disguises.

I hated retiring from professional sports. I wish I still kicked balls for a living. But lots of blessings come in disguises. It was painful retiring. I felt lost walking away for the game that’s been a constant in my life since I was four years old. But I firmly believe that it’s because of that pain and struggle that I now have a newfound love for learning. There is life after sport! There’s so much to learn. And explore! It’s a freakin’ BIG world out there!

Grow or die!

I heard this recently. I’m sure it’s been said by lots of people. And I’m sure I’ve heard it before. But this time it stuck! As athletes, entrepreneurs, parents, and people in general, if we aren’t growing, we’re dying. (So, yes, technically we’re all dying). But, life is short! Invest in that class. Start writing. Follow your passion or pursue that dream. Travel to that exotic island. Cross that thing off your bucket list. Never lose that desire to grow and learn. You’re never too old or too young or too anything to learn.

Besides, leaders aren’t born. They’re made!
Leadership is a skill! To be a leader, you must first learn how!

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