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  • Jerry Phillips

Duality; Individual and Community

This past weekend I traveled by air for the first time since early March. I was shocked at how empty the airports were. I traveled on a Wednesday, which is typically a light travel day, but it was frightening at how few people traveled. I flew from Austin to Chicago on Southwest. There were perhaps 70 people on my flight. On the flight from Chicago to Austin, there were around 50 people on the flight.

You know I’m a big fan of Southwest Airlines and they didn’t lower my feelings. They are very proactive in the way they space us loading the plane. Everyone wore face masks. Everyone was helpful and concerned about the well being of those around them. Typical of those flying Southwest, the customers reflect the associates at Southwest.

There is a constant struggle between individuality and community. It shows in many ways, both in our personal lives and in our business lives. An example is slowing the pandemic and wearing face masks. I’m not talking about any political rant either way. I want to take a different approach. Whether you believe Covid 19 is a hoax, or you believe it is the end of times, or something in between, we need to look at it from the perspective of others. Whether it is required by a mandate or a choice, I believe wearing a face mask is respectful.

To get to the point of the duality we all struggle with; our individual wants and needs versus the community wants and needs. I had a mask on for over eight hours on Sunday. My ears hurt, and I was tired of smelling my own breath and my glasses fogged. It was uncomfortable, but necessary for me to wear the mask. I think of the risk to my mother and my grandkids. I think of the others who may have the same situation.

In business it’s easy to think of our personal needs to make quota, to sell more and make more money, but do we think of their needs? Do we think of the customer needs? Do we understand where we fit in the community and how what we do helps? If we sell for a manufacturer of products, do you think about how what you sell supports others? What you sell supports the company you work for keep others employed, and their families fed. What you sell does the same for the companies and individuals you sell to. It is not just about you. How does that change your daily routine?

It is my belief that a greater awareness of where you fit allows you to take a more holistic approach to selling. It is no longer about just you and it shows to everyone. It makes your meetings with your customers more about solving problems for them and less about pitching your solution.

I spent Sunday evening in Midway Airport in Chicago, waiting on my flight. Nearly 100% of the people in the airport had on masks. The only ones who didn’t were enjoying a beverage or food. It was very entertaining to see how people express themselves through the mask they wear. There are colorful masks and there are bland masks like the one I was wearing. There are messages on masks that send a clear understanding of what the individual stands for. There was everything from bandanas, to surgical masks as well. The masks become accessories, especially to the eyes. As soon as I could, I took my mask off. Out of respect to the community though, if I’m around others, I wear a mask. I now need to find a creative way to express myself with my mask.

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