Chapter 3 Fit your own mask first

‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.'

Oscar Wilde

Airline passenger safety messages commonly instruct parents to fit their own oxygen mask before helping a child. It can feel counter-intuitive not to prioritise your children in an emergency, but you won't be able to help anyone else if you yourself are unconscious. In the same way, when helping others navigate their careers, the place to start is you!

Even if you are struggling with your own career goals, this does not preclude you from being effective in helping others with theirs. The most important thing is that you have the self-awareness to know where you are at. The better you know yourself and your own career drivers, the better equipped you will be to lead and help others with theirs.

A simple way to uncover your own career motivators is to review your career and identify your work-related values and career drivers. Chapter 4 includes exercises to help you in this (and to support your employees in doing the same). The aim is to identify connecting themes and patterns in your career journey to better understand how you make decisions and who or what might have influenced them. Discovering what drives your career progress will help you do the same for your employees. This is a vital first step. In documenting your career milestones, together with the outputs of these exercises, you may uncover an unexpected transition point.

Although there are many career assessment exercises ...

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