The COVID-19 outbreak has been hoarding the news lately. Social media is also going crazy, with updates, rumours and even jokes spreading like wildfire from one channel to another.

The COVID-19 scare has brought forth an interesting side of human nature. People went scrambling to buy masks, hand sanitizers and antiseptic wet wipes, and the items were soon out of stock island wide in Singapore. The media sent out propaganda messages urging people to practise good personal hygiene, wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their faces.

#1 – Do we PREPARE and plan for the long-term, or simply REACT to a situation?

It’s reasonable to understand the reasons behind the scramble to buy masks and hand sanitizers to protect oneself from the COVID-19 virus. It is almost a natural, human reaction. But amidst the frenzy, does one take a step back and think of what we can learn from this situation? Shouldn’t practising good personal hygiene be something we do all the time, and not only when there is a virus outbreak? Why are so many people complacent during “peace times” and do nothing to build their immune system, only to panic when an outbreak occurs?

I recently received a whatsapp message from someone who claimed their healthcare product is good in building up a person’s immunity to protect against the COVID-19 virus. I shrugged it off and ignored the message. Building your immune system is a long-term process, and not something which happens overnight.

The COVID-19 will eventually pass, perhaps (and hopefully soon!) in a few weeks/months. When that happens, does one go back to his/her complacent ways and ignore personal hygiene and building one’s immunity? Or do we learn from this so we can be stronger and healthier when dealing with the next outbreak, be it 7 or 17 years down the road?

Interestingly, this same learning can be applied to work. Do we continually upgrade ourselves in skills and knowledge so we can be better prepared for the next promotion or next technological disruption? Do we continually build our sales/talent pipeline so we don’t have to scramble when we need it?

Bottomline is - would you rather PREPARE, or would you rather REACT?

#2 – Do we do things for self or for the greater community?

The government has been telling the masses there is no need to wear a mask, unless you are sick. In many countries which I travel to, Japan as an example, people wear masks as they are civic-minded and don’t wish their common cold or cough to infect other people. They do this not for “self” but for the greater community.

The concept is very simple. If 10 people who are sick put on masks among a community of 100 people, it frees up 90 masks which can then be allocated to medical staff and frontliners who really need it.

Civic-mindedness goes a long way, whether it’s in the workplace or society at large.

The above is purely my own personal opinion and takeaways. The unexpected COVID-19 outbreak is indeed a troubling and unsettling episode for everyone. I sincerely wish everyone who is reading this the pinkest of health, and also a speedy recovery for those who are battling the virus.