Ebola and Priorities: 3 Rules for Clarity

Rule 1 – Don’t risk delivering mass death. Don’t even risk getting other people sick. There has been a trend for people to come to work sick. They may have a cold or a flu, but they feel they have to be at work even though they are sick. They need the money, consider themselves indispensable, are afraid they might get fired if they miss another day, or just don’t know how to delegate and depend on their other team members. Whatever the reason, it has almost become a badge of honor to come into the office even though you are sick. You can always claim it is allergies, pretend you are not contagious, or ask everyone keep 10 feet away. No matter how it gets rationalized, coming to work sick is a bad idea. Your project, job, or money, are not more important than the health of your teammates. Besides being the right thing to do, you need them to be healthy so you can take the time you need get well. Think of the chaos if everyone got sick. Your health is also a priority. It is getting more and more common to see employees work when they are sick, get worse and end up missing weeks and even months. When you are sick, stay home until you get well.

Now take that to the next level, Ebola. The people who were exposed to Ebola felt their vacations and other plans were a higher priority than potentially exposing hundreds of people to a deadly disease. They thought that since the plans were made, the money was spent, and they might not get another chance, they should go ahead and take the risk. They were willing to risk hundreds if not thousands of lives.

There is an argument that they were not contagious and they would know when they became contagious. But one of the side effects they didn’t consider was mass panic. How would other people feel about taking that risk? The cost of the disruption to the public psyche and the cost of shut downs and cleanings should have been considered. So, for clarity; Rule 1 is to make the health and welfare of the community your top priority and then somewhere down the list, add your plans for vacation. I know it seems like a real inconvenience, but so is mass death!


Rule 2 – Imagine a new reality. What if the stories from the books and movies came true? What if the schools shut down, you had to wear masks at the grocery store, and you couldn’t go into the office or worse yet attend sporting events because you might get infected by the people who are not clear about Rule 1? Imagine what your life would be like. What would you do, where would you go, how would you survive? What would you protect? What would you keep? This is a great exercise to help you understand the real priorities in your life. Would you be miserable or happy? What are you attached to now that you could really give up? What kind of life would you want to create if you could start over? What habits would you change? What would you do differently? Make a list.

Now look at your list. Why can’t you make some of those changes now? You know your priorities and what is important. Why not make changes today, with or without an epidemic, to move your life a little closer to what you really want. So Rule 2 clarified: Create a better reality now. Don’t wait for a catastrophe.


Rule 3 – Decide who you want on your bus. If Ebola resulted in a mass epidemic and you had to move somewhere new and safe, who would you take with you? Who would you want to be around? Who would you definitely not have room for? Make a list.

Now think about who you spend all your time with now.   Shouldn’t it be the people on your list? Why are you spending time with people you wouldn’t want in your new life? Find ways to politely spend less time with people who didn’t make the list and make it a priority to spend time with the people who did.

Note: Destroy the list. You don’t want to have that discussion with the person who wasn’t on it.


I expect they will get the Ebola threat under control. But the 3 rules of Ebola still work:


  1. Don’t risk delivering mass death or compromising anyone else’s health in any way. Especially to avoid being inconvenienced.
  2. Imagine and create a better reality
  3. Decide who you want on your bus and spend more time with them.


Make changes now that will help you be happy and successful, no matter what happens.



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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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