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Oxygen Mask

My coach, who I admire greatly, taught me the principle of the oxygen mask.

We’ve all seen and heard the Flight Attendant’s safety speech. If the oxygen masks drop, you should put your mask on first before helping others put on theirs. This is because if you don’t have oxygen, you’ll pass out and won’t be able to help others anyway. This seems so profound to me because it sounds so counter-intuitive. For example, you love your kids, so you want to get their mask on first – but it doesn’t work that way.

This principle is true in all areas of our life. If we’re short on “oxygen,” even simple tasks are overwhelming and our actions are ineffective.

From 5:30am until about 6:30am is my scheduled “oxygen mask” time. What do I do during this time? Pray, read scripture, meditate, visualize, plan, and try to align my life and my day with what’s truly important to me. I’m getting my daily “oxygen” so I’m clear, focused, and able to help myself and others.

Sometimes, however, I forget the oxygen mask principle, and it goes like this. I love my work, so I get up thinking about it. I walk to my oxygen mask place, but on the way, I check my email. My attention is caught by a few important emails. I decide to attend to them, which leads me to other “urgent” tasks, and the next thing I know I’m full swing in my day and busy until evening.

I’ve learned the hard way that prolonged neglect of my oxygen mask time gets me off track. I find that I’m busy but not effective. I also find myself less able to keep my head up when things get heavy, and even small things start to seem like big problems.

Stressed Adjuster

I’ve learned that life is all about getting crystal-clear about what you want and aligning your thoughts, feelings, and actions with it.  Oxygen mask time does just that. It allows me to remember what’s important to me and realign myself with it. It’s a recharge, a re-focus, a perspective adjustment, and it keeps the ship on course. Oxygen mask time does not need to be in the morning. We need oxygen all day, every day. Oxygen is about making sure your own needs are met so you can meet the needs of others and of the world (including your job).

We’re in the heart of the CAT season, and Hurricane Earl is bearing down on the East coast. I have no idea what will happen, but I can guarantee you that if you’re deployed you’ll need oxygen. Working CAT claims can get very, very hectic, and the temptation to set aside the oxygen mask and get busy is immense, but take heed! This is exactly when oxygen is needed most! Effective CAT adjusting is so much more than frantically running from loss to loss inspecting and taking pictures, I promise you. A cool head, level attitude, purposeful, intentional use of time and strategy all require oxygen. I actually enjoy catastrophe deployment and have gotten to the place where I find the craziness almost relaxing (in its own way.) With oxygen, a CAT deployment means you’re busy and involved – but not frantic and harried. It means you’re strategic instead of running around trying to inspect every loss “yesterday.” You’re focused, intentional, and most importantly, effective. You discover that you’re helping real people in a real time of need and it’s tremendously rewarding…and lucrative.

Without oxygen, the pressure can seem too much at times. Everyone wants their loss inspected first, and the carriers want the claim closed yesterday. Using Xactimate is harder than it seemed in class, and your reports are getting kicked back. Your GPS puts you 20 miles from the proper address. Your computer crashes. I’ve seen these types of setbacks – all normal parts of CAT life – crush folks who are short on oxygen.

When life heats up, the air gets thin. In life and in CAT adjusting, make sure your mask is on first!

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