The Oxygen Mask for Directors



Fit your own oxygen mask first I say.  We live in a world predicated upon our usefulness and ability to help others.  No wonder we forget about ourselves.  Most of us are either parents, or doting and sometimes grateful aunties and uncles.  We would know then that being there for children requires us to be able to run and play which in turns requires a modicum of fitness to say the least.

It is no different for company directors.  You spend your time wading through weighty tomes of written reports, endless meetings and phone calls and a fair share of crisis.  Why do you do it?  Some would say for the status, but that wears thin after a short time.  Others say because it utilises their core skills, maybe finance, legal and commercial.  And others would say it meets a need to simply help others in an area that they have some passion for.  All of this may fulfill you for some time, but will it keep you engaged in a sustainable way?

For some 9 years I have been speaking at the Australian Institute of company Directors (AICD) on this very topic as part of their Finding Board Positions Seminar.  I am heartened by the words of Confucius and Tolstoy who effectively said that, “if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life”.

What does this really mean?  I’d like to kick start the discussion by suggesting it is not about a narcissistic hit or delirious joy but rather a moral imperative to understand our purpose and meaning in serving others so that they can truly benefit from who we are and what we have to offer.

Posted by Dale Simpson

BonnieSue Nevin

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