Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

by Dr David Phelps

by Dr David Phelps


eople often hear me say – you need to put your oxygen mask on first, then you can better be prepared to help other people.

 What do I mean by that? 

It sounds like I'm telling you to be selfish—to take care of yourself first, before you help other people. Now, that's not entirely true. Most of you are servants—you want to help people, and you do bless people with your help in many different regards, whether it’s personally or in business. You know there are many things we can do all the time to help other people.

What I'm talking about is really protecting yourself from unknown events that might happen.

Let's think about the whole oxygen mask analogy. When you're on a plane and the air pressure drops, the oxygen mask will drop. What do you do first? You put your mask on first, even though you might be with a child or elderly person or someone flailing their arms three rows up. Protect yourself first—that’s the message you get when you’re in that situation.

If you don't put your mask on first, you will run out of air by the time you try to help those other people, and then you're done. It’s the same thing if you're trying to save a person who might be drowning: If you just run in without your rescue gear or any additional assistance, both of you could go down. 

So what does this mean in real time? What are you talking about, David? I mean, what do you think is going to happen—history shows that unpredicted events occur all the time.

Look at the Coronavirus pandemic that happened last year. No one saw that coming, and it inflicted a lot of pain—a lot of people got sick, a lot of people died, a lot of businesses didn't make it, there was massive disruption, and all the other consequences that came down the pipeline.

Who could have known? 

So what can you do to protect yourself? Well, you could make sure you’re in the best possible health; making yourself healthy creates margin in your life, and makes your body stronger to fight against potential illnesses or infections.

Financially there’s always places that we need to put more time and effort into. For example, creating some margin through personal budgeting—not running neck and neck with credit and just paying the bills month after month to keep our head above water. We’ve got to create some margin. 

What can you do there? You can look at your current debt and say, where can I minimize, where can I pay some down? Can I sell something and remove that debt completely?

What about in your business? It’s the same thing: What kind of debt are you carrying? How could you decrease the risk of having that debt in the event of some type of market change or recession? You could look to become a more lean and mean, efficient business machine, and be careful about expanding extensively in a marketplace where, I believe, the fundamentals are still very strained.

Yes, businesses are back, and people are back to work—but understand that this recovery has been artificially brought about by our government.

I'm not saying that they shouldn't have done what they did to keep us from going into a deeper recession or depression. Nonetheless, the high-riding market and current asset bubbles are in large part due to the fact that our government has gone into debt.

You may say, “Well, that's not my problem. It's the government's debt.” No, the government's debt is our debt. We're part and parcel—and our kids and grandkids and generations to come are all linked to that debt. 

The government doesn't produce anything; the government creates additional debt. Whether you want to call it right or wrong, it's still debt, and it's going to have to be paid eventually.

It's going to cause the citizens of this country of all demographics to pay a price.

Are we ready for that? 

Are you in a position where you can put your oxygen mask on and be strong enough to help the people you care about – your immediate family, people in your community, people that you serve with a mission and heart? How can you best help them?

You've got to be in a position to have more freedom yourself. Freedom is the key to everything in life. When I say put your oxygen mask on first, I'm talking about getting your own house in order the best you can. Get all the things that you can control as optimized as possible, and remove as much unhealthy risk as possible.

Don't get caught in the exuberance of the current marketplace, because there's a false bottom to this market. When the dam breaks and we see the repercussions of what our government, our representatives, and politicians have been doing for years (tax and spend, tax and spend as if there’s no consequence) – there will be a consequence, and I want you to be prepared.

Start today. Take little steps at a time. Don't try to eat the elephant all at once; don't try to change the dynamics of your situation in one stroke. Rather, start to do little things, like creating healthy habits and slowly knocking down debt, to create more margin in your personal and business life.

You'll be happy you did.
To your freedom!

P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here are some other ways I can help fast track you to your Freedom goal (you’re closer than you think) :

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