You might be asking yourself, why have I, a productivity expert, decided to talk about masks now what with all that’s going on? After all, it seems that according to 1200 health experts, “white supremacy” is a bigger health issue than Covid-19.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that there’s always a price to pay.
In order to become an expert in any field, you have to pay the price in a combination of three things – time, energy, and money. You don’t become world-class overnight. You spend years researching, studying, learning, asking questions, interviewing people, discussing, and throwing ideas around to become truly world-class. Just as a swimmer who spends hours in the pool swimming back-and-forth doing only for four simple strokes, so too must the expert.
Ask Michael Jordan, Cristiano Ronaldo or Roger Federer if all the time and energy they invested in their sport was worth it and they’ll tell you it was. It may have been hard, but for them, it was a small price to pay.
With regards to masks, I remember when I first came to Japan many years ago. I had read in the book the people here we are masks to prevent other people from getting sick. Still, seeing lots of people wander around with masks on I admit was rather shocking. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.
Little did I know, a few years later I’d be one of them.
Japan has four seasons which is both a blessing and a curse. They are blessed with fantastic foods, a huge variety of flavors and vegetables unknown to many other places in the world, and some of the most amazing ski resorts in the world, but on the flip side, it comes at a price – allergy season (aka spring).
I clearly remember the first time it happened; it was rough.
Allergies are an invisible threat much like Covid-19. You can’t see it coming. It’s just there. You’re out walking around not giving a damn and suddenly you break out into tears. Your eyes go bloodshot. Your nose starts running. You break into sneezing fits. You can’t sleep. All sorts of weird things happen. You have no idea what’s going on.
At first, I did what any red-blooded American would, I did whatever NOT to put on a mask. I got eye drops, pills, syrup, injections, or whatever I could because I didn’t want to walk around looking like a surgeon. But one year it was so bad, my doctor told me the best way to deal with it was to wear a mask.
What did I have to lose? Nothing else was doing the trick. Turns out he was right. A mask, even without the medicine that I was prescribed, pretty much stopped my allergies dead in their tracks.
I’ve learned wearing a mask is not that big of a deal. Sure, I don’t really want to wear one especially if it’s hot outside, but besides that, it’s just nothing more than a slight inconvenience.
The keyword in that sentence is slight.
When we’re dealing with something like COVID-19 we have to ask ourselves this – what price are we willing to pay? Are we willing to sacrifice our comfort for our safety? For me, a mask is a small price to pay if we can get back to some sort of normalcy.
It doesn’t mean we wear it all the time. Just when we’re in crowded areas.
Here in Japan now, everyone I talk to is concerned about the second wave, but that doesn’t mean they’re all hiding at home. Not at all. People are out and about. Malls are getting busier, supermarkets are back to their pre-corona schedule, the bubble tea shops are back to having long lines, and most companies are having people come into the office 2-3 times a week.
Just with one small difference – 95% of people are wearing masks.
While some countries like Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have managed to get the virus under control, other countries are still struggling to contain the first wave. I was shocked to see the numbers continue to tick up with 100,000 cases a day being added to the count. That tells me we have a ways to go before we can put this behind us.
Do I want to wear a mask? No. But should I? Dang right I should, and not just for me, but for everyone around me.
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Photo courtesy iStock.