Should You Wear a Mask?

Okay, let me point out that I know better than to write about this topic. About half of the people who read it will agree and the other 80% will think the whole mask thing is ridiculous. (Yes, I can add)

Social Media and Blogging “experts” have told me to stick the topics I’m known for. Those would be sales and leadership but heck, I haven’t had a good beat down over a blog post in a while so let’s go for it.

We should get this out of the way right up front. Yes, I wear a mask when I’m in a public area and I can’t stay at least 6 feet away from other people. Actually, I wear a mask pretty much all the time in public because very few people carry a tape measure with them. These are the same people who struggle with what 6 feet looks like. So to be safe I wear a mask….not for me, but for them. To keep them safe from me in case I have the virus and I’m asymptomatic.

That’s the whole point of wearing a mask…to keep other people safe.

I understand most of the reasons for NOT wearing a mask. One person told me the whole COVID thing is a hoax. No one, not one single person has died from the virus because the virus doesn’t exist. I pointed out that “they” indeed seem to be burying people. I was informed that the government is actually paying those people to stay in hiding so their loved ones will think they are dead. I was shocked!

I’m not sure what the end goal of the government would be for doing that. I do know the end goal of wearing a mask is to keep other people safe.

I also understand that the government can’t tell me I have to wear a mask. When they attempt to do so it infringes on my freedom. Few things are more important to me than my freedoms. Especially the freedom to needlessly and carelessly infect other people with a potentially deadly virus. Many brave men and women have died so I can have to freedom to not give a damn about anyone else.

But thanks to those same brave men and women I’m also free to attempt to keep other people safe, which is the whole point of wearing a mask.

The one thing I don’t understand is the idea of being too cool to wear a mask. I’ve never been that cool so it’s very hard for me to comprehend that concept. I’m surmising that when you’re too cool to wear a mask that you assume other people are cool with you infecting them with a potentially deadly virus. I kinda get that…I mean if I was to get infected I’m sure I’d feel better on my deathbed knowing that at least I’m dying for a good cause…. helping a really cool person continue to look cooler than me.

But I also can’t help but think that if the person was all that cool they would want to help keep other people safe, which is the whole point of wearing a mask.

So when I’m out in public and I see people not wearing a mask I can only assume a few things.

One, they are a massive conspiracy buff. Not only have they correctly identified this pandemic thing as a complete hoax they also know where Elvis is currently living.

Two, they have a very confused view of the definition of “freedom.” That confused view is causing them to do things that sadly, very sadly, some of them will deeply regret one day. Once Grandma is gone all the freedom in the world ain’t bringing her back…but hey, sacrifices must be made.

Three, they really are way cooler than me. My being near them or them seeing my face uncovered could adversely affect their coolness.

In that case it’s really really good that I’m wearing a mask, after all, the whole point of wearing a mask is to keep other people safe…even very cool people.

Business as Usual

The current state of the world absolutely does not allow business to be conducted as usual. Perhaps no time in history have businesses, and every person alive for that matter, been faced with so many unknowns.

No one likes unknowns.

In you’re in a leadership position then one of the things you should be doing right now is providing the people you lead with as many “knowns” as possible. Few things will be business as usual so find as many usual things as you possible can and put them in front of your people.

Many readers of this blog are not aware that in addition to writing this blog I also have a full time job. I do a ton of speaking each year. While I also speak outside of my industry the majority of my speaking opportunities are in support of my employer and our customers.

I never write about my “day job.” But the current crisis around the Coronavirus has provided me the opportunity to witness firsthand some truly outstanding leadership. But this week I would say I saw nothing less than brilliant leadership.

Those who know me also know that I am a harsh judge of leaders and leadership. I believe that if you have the audacity to call yourself a leader then you darn well better lead, really really lead. Lately I’ve seen a ton of what can only be described as Authentic Leadership.

In a company-wide meeting this week, conducted for the first time virtually for obvious reasons, the organization’s leadership made the decision to make the meeting as normal as possible.

There was a needed update on preparedness for and steps taken against the virus. But it did not dominate the meeting. It would have been easy, and expected, that the doom and gloom over-taking many organizations would have been the focus, but it was not. The focus was on business as usual.

That was the brilliant part.

It almost didn’t matter what was discussed. What mattered was what wasn’t. The current situation was appropriately covered and then it was on to business. Instead of sucking life out of the organization the leadership team literally pumped life along with enthusiasm into the organization. The calming effect of even a bit of normalcy could almost be felt over the Internet.

Brilliant is the only word I can think of to describe it.

It showed me the absolute importance of leading by example. If you’re in a position of leadership don’t merely tell your people that everything will be okay, show them. Show them by demonstrating as much normalcy in these highly unusual times as you possible can.

Business as usual will be challenging for the foreseeable future but I had a glimpse this week of just how much people are craving even a bit of normalcy. I’ve never written this before but for at least a while one of the best leadership actions you can take is to be so normal that you risk boring your team.

Now, as much as ever in history people need leadership. If you’re a leader who can provide the people you lead with even a bit of stability then you are a leader who was made for these times.

One last thought, I know business as usual will be nearly impossible for many people. You must understand that “nearly impossible” and “impossible” are two very different things. If you can’t keep business “usual” then figure out a way to provide your people a bit of normalcy in their personal lives. Leadership, at least Authentic Leadership isn’t easy and it doesn’t stop at the end of the work day. So don’t assume anything is impossible, just figure it out. That’s what great leaders do!

Interesting Times

As I write this I’m at our Arizona home which is a couple of miles from many of Major League Baseballs’ Spring Training Ballparks. It’s a Saturday and it would ordinarily be a great day to take in a ballgame. But there are no ballgames to take in.

I guess I’ll watch a NBA game on TV instead. Oh wait, there are no NBA games. There are no hockey games either. There are no games at all.

That’s very interesting.

I did go to Walmart at 7:00am this morning…I was confused at first because it seemed a lot like a Black Friday. The place was packed. What was different from a Black Friday however was that the shelves were mostly empty.

I remember shopping at a surplus store years ago in my hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota. They had a slogan that said “if we don’t have it then you don’t need it.” One of the Walmart employees said a good rule of thumb for these times was that “if you need it then it’s most likely that we don’t have it.” That’s more than interesting.

We certainly do live in interesting times.

“May you always live in interesting times” is an English expression which purports to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. While seemingly a blessing, the expression is normally used ironically; life is better in “uninteresting times” of peace and tranquility than in “interesting” ones, which are usually times of trouble.

But I’ve come to the conclusion that interesting times can be less trouble than they otherwise might be if we work together to limit the trouble. I had a 40 year old guy say to me “I’m not affected by the virus so what the hell do I care.” Well now he’s out of toilet paper and you would think the world is coming to an end.

We are ALL affected by the challenge facing the world today. We can limit the trouble traveling around the world by ALL sticking together. The best way to keep the world healthy is to keep yourself healthy. There have been about a billion warnings to wash your hands regularly (I now have an hourly reminder on my phone) and to stop touching your face. (Easier said than done)

Pay attention to that advice. In fact, pay attention period. You’re pretty safe if you’re in your twenties but you know what? You are about the most likely age group to pass an illness on to the age groups who most certainly are not safe. So pay attention. Take the same precautions as if the virus is a serious threat to you.

All the experts say this is likely to get worse before it gets better. Together we can limit how much worse. Let’s remember the together part.

So for the next while help other people a little more. If you do choose to go out to dinner then tip a little more. If you’re going to the store then offer to pick something up for a neighbor. Check in on people over the phone more often.

Since it’s likely you’ll be around home more often take advantage of the time to complete those projects you’ve been putting off. And how about this for a crazy idea, put down that stupid Smartphone and talk to people the old fashioned way.

There is a lot of fake information and rumors out there. Remember the ONLY official source of information is CoronaVirus.gov Point your browser there for the latest accurate information on these most interesting of times.

I’m pretty sure that the best way to get through interesting times is to be more interested in others and less interested in ourselves. As Mr. Spock once told Captain Kirk, “The good of the many must outweigh the good of the one.”

It’s only by working together that can we truly flatten the curve.