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Just do it! For your sake and for others

Peter Switzer
16 January 2021

In recent weeks, the Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, has made mask wearing mandatory in certain areas such as shopping centres, public transport and so on. For a leader who has got most matters right when it comes to handling the Coronavirus, it always perplexed me why she delayed the compulsory sporting of masks.

Back in March I was advocating it in my media appearances, and even suggested that masks be made in the colours of our favourite footie teams to get the normal Aussie on board.

I’m not a non-scientific guy but as an economist I am a social scientist, so it seemed simply rational to add compulsory mask wearing to the new age pandemic edicts of social distancing and hand sanitizing.

The website nature.com gives us the view of science on the subject, which goes like this: “To be clear, the science supports using masks, with recent studies suggesting that they could save lives in different ways: research shows that they cut down the chances of both transmitting and catching the coronavirus, and some studies hint that masks might reduce the severity of infection if people do contract the disease.”

It might seem like common sense that masks are part of the arsenal we should use to kill the virus enemy in our midst but there are doubters, and some are even in the medical space. One critic thinks masks might make people take risks that they might not take because they think the mask will protect them, when a lot of people don’t wear masks properly.

Another rates contact tracing, good coordination, social distancing “and a general public that has been quite worried from the start and willing to work with health authorities” as being more important.

Call me a chicken but I say for the sake of avoiding deaths and for the sake of the economy, jobs and the Budget Deficit, governments should make us do all of the right things possible to beat this damn virus.

By the way, the good news is that as a country we are rippers in taking on the virus coming in at number three in the world behind New Zealand and Taiwan. Yeah, sure, we’re all island economies but so is Britain and boy, haven’t their leaders screwed up big time?

The UK has lost 84,767 people to the virus and in the USA the number is 393,928! Here we’ve seen 909 deaths, which is testimony to great leadership from all governments and people who populate Australia.

And while I’m a great supporter of compulsory wearing of masks for health reasons while the Coronavirus stalks our land, I like the discipline it imposes on us!

Let me ask you this: how many times have you fronted up to a shop without a mask until it became welded on to your mental hard disk that the rules of engagement with shopkeepers, buses, trains and so on have changed?

A small minority of humans can see what’s good for them and embrace change to give themselves a chance of becoming a high achiever. But a bigger group needs a kick-arse coach, tutor, dietician, doctor or physical fitness expert to make them do the right thing.

To me, mask wearing can become the symbol of how valuable leaders generally and political leaders specifically can be in bringing about self-improvement, positive change and much better outcomes for individuals determined to do well, businesses seeking greater profits and countries wanting to cancel out the negatives of the Coronavirus recession.

My personal experience with our business coach and a dietician I contracted to lose weight when I first cracked a TV contract told me how important it is to have hard task masters, who lay down the rules or systems for success. Realising the value of having your work and progress monitored, which makes you accountable, becomes a powerful motivator for lifting your game.

Imagine having a personal trainer turning up to your house five days a week at 5:30am, who put you through a tough 60-minute workout. How much stronger would you become? How much fitter and better looking would you end up being?

The lack of self-discipline is the best explanation why so many people are disappointed with their life. So as a starting point for turning unhappiness into happiness, the sensible step is to pay someone to help you lift your game.

During the week we had a potential financial planning client who said he really needed help, as he’d tried to run his own wealth-building and had proven to himself that it wasn’t his long suit. However, he was unwilling to pay fees which on industry standards were on the low side.

We courteously sent him this note:

“I’ll leave this with you — advice is important, you’re right. I read this many years ago and it’s how we operate our business and financial affairs:

  1. Work out what you want.
  2. Work out the price
  3. Pay the price.

We’ve never taken commissions and our clients know what they’re paying in a transparent way.

When we spoke to you, you said that you and Jane needed a solid strategy to grow your super. That’s what you’re paying for. 

You have time up your sleeves to get that strategy in place and actively working for you but let me leave you with these two questions:

  1. If not Switzer, then who?
  2. If not now, when?

I sincerely wish you both all the very best.”

These are the questions all of us have to ask, if we really want to improve, get better outcomes and provide others we care for with the best of examples.

Our leaders prompting/forcing us to wear masks is the leadership this country really needs — all countries need!

In April last year, The Bangkok Post looked at the widespread use of masks in Asia and I loved this observation: “Keiji Fukuda, director and clinical professor at the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health, said people in the city see wearing a mask “as a way that the individual is trying to protect both the larger society as well as the self”.

How win-win is that? And if we need our leaders to lift our game towards each other, then so be it. Go discipline!

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