Why mindset is critical in a crisis.

20 Apr 2020
Author: Laura Cruz
4 minute read

It's completely understandable to let overwhelm take over during a crisis. But now more than ever it's important to cultivate a mindset that will enable us to see opportunity and overcome the challenges ahead of us. 

The global spread of COVID-19 has generated an unprecedented global crisis.

Although similar viruses have infected us in the past, our generation has never seen anything of this scale. COVID-19 has rendered borders more significant than ever with freedom of movement limited, and provoked political and economic issues around the world. 

In all of the countries it has reached, the virus has disrupted people’s way of living and in many places overwhelmed the healthcare system. The impending economic crisis will create long-term hardships that will be a reality for many people for years to come, and will exacerbate economic, developmental and social issues globally.

While it is understandable to let overwhelm take over, this is truly the most unproductive mindset to have right now.

What exactly is a mindset and how does it impact us?

Mindset is your frame of mind - a collection of thoughts and beliefs that shape how you think, what you feel and what you do, and how you see yourself.  Your mindset impacts the decisions you make and how you deal with challenges. Your mindset can have a positive or negative impact on your life, but like a muscle, it can be trained and shaped.

Psychologist Carol Dweck studied the way people view themselves and how that influences their ability to face challenges. She developed a theory which separates mindsets into two categories: fixed mindset and growth mindset. 

A fixed mindset is one where you believe your intelligence is an innate characteristic.

In her research, Dweck found that this mindset discourages people from challenging themselves and putting themselves in a situation where their weaknesses are exposed. People with a fixed mind-set who consider themselves smart often withdraw in the face of difficulty, which closes off opportunity to grow.

A growth mindset is one where you believe that you can improve yourself and become smarter.

It allows you to bravely face challenges because you see them as opportunities for learning. Dweck found that this kind of thinking can have a huge positive influence on your performance at school, for example. Her studies found that the kids from lower-income brackets who have a growth mind-set can perform as well in school as the privileged kids from higher income brackets. 



Many growth-minded people didn’t even plan to go to the top. They got there as a result of doing what they love.

It’s ironic. The top is where the fixed-mindset people hunger to be, but it’s where many growth-minded people arrive as a by-product of their enthusiasm for what they do.


Carol Dweck, Psychologist

How can mindset help us deal with the impact of COVID-19?


When developing a crisis strategy, we often leave out the role of our human psychology as part of the solution. While financial, social and economic strategies are an essential part of dealing with the impacts of COVID-19, it is equally necessary to make sure we have the best mindset to overcome the inevitable challenges. A growth mindset allows us to see this crisis as an opportunity to rethink how we’ve been doing things, identify gaps and learn from our mistakes.  With a growth mindset, we can look for ways to develop better social systems and more sustainable business models. 

Stay curious about your mindset throughout the response to COVID-19. This will help you to visualise where you sit in the spectrum from fixed to growth. It is a natural human tendency to veer toward a fixed mindset during a crisis as it’s a comfortable “control” mechanism for most people. Understanding and exploring what triggers this for you will help you to be more aware of the place you are reacting from. This will enable you to course correct in a timely manner remaining open to potential and possibility. 

Where can we find opportunities to make positive change?


The COVID-19 crisis is indeed an event with a significant human and economic toll - but it has also allowed us the opportunity to demonstrate our humanity as never before. The simple activity of staying at home has shown our care and concern for the vulnerable in our communities. This virus has exposed some major societal inequalities but has also allowed us to empathise with the rest of the world as if there were no borders. 

Now we have an opportunity to revise our priorities. It is time to connect with our community, identify the needs and take action. It’s time to invest in sustainable solutions to global issues. It is time to empower women so they can create better futures for themselves, their family, and their community, because when women are empowered, everyone benefits.

With a growth mindset, we can see this crisis as an opportunity to catalyse positive social change and create a world that works for everyone.

Do you want to be part of a community of people that are passionate about empowering people to create brighter futures for themselves?