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How crises reveal people’s true character

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This week, let’s address the elephant in the room and talk a bit about the Coronavirus crisis. How do crises reveal people’s true character?

In this highly challenging time, it’s important to not just go about our business as usual. As if nothing was going on.
If you have a good character, you strive to show compassion and care about the well-being of others, even strangers.

But not everyone wants to do the right thing. If you have morally questionable character traits, they will be revealed during this crisis.

Your character is your personality, especially how reliable and honest you are. If someone is of good character, they are reliable and honest. If they are of bad character, they are unreliable and dishonest.

Definition from Collins Dictionary

The current situation (this was in March)

This week, several countries including Switzerland announced a complete lockdown, closing their schools, borders, stores, restaurants etc.

Over 150 countries are currently affected.

Switzerland is not in confinement yet. But in other countries like France, people are not allowed to leave their homes unless they have a really good reason.


When you can’t count on a nation’s self-discipline that’s how you make sure everyone follows the rules. Let’s face it, most of us have an inclination to bend the rules.

The lockdown means, this is not life as usual. And it’s also not business as usual.

How we handle this situation is an ethical issue above all.
People should care about not spreading the virus. But even a good person will probably underestimate the risk. It’s not just bad people who infect others.

It all comes down to a moral question because the danger simply isn’t obvious enough. So you may think that you can get away with ignoring the precautions.

Crises reveal your true character

“A person’s true character is revealed by what he does when no one is watching” – Sigmund Miller quote

When put under pressure, people who are caring will be more caring. Rather selfish people will behave more selfishly.

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You may not think you’re selfish when you’re feeling well.
You may be unconscious of the reality that you can make people sick simply by going outside.

Crises reveal true character- Avoid the bus if you cana virus

Your sense of right and wrong can be skewed when you feel fine. Especially if the “seniors” you love are nowhere near you. It’s easy to behave recklessly when you believe it won’t harm anyone.

How crazy is it that taking the bus or going to the park can be considered reckless?

So when you hear you have to spend 15 minutes close to someone infected to get contaminated, it may seem like you’re in the clear.

You could underestimate the consequences

Let’s be honest, you could believe that there is no risk.

Unfortunately, this is not true. You can be infected and contagious for a while without knowing it. And so you could be spreading it, infecting someone else’s loved ones, maybe simply by being nice to someone.

Unfortunately, it’s not okay to enjoy a day in the park or to talk to the nice old lady… What seems innocent enough can actually make (other) people sick even if that wasn’t your intention.

This is why everyone should show empathy and stay at home as much as possible to slow down the spread.

It’s not paranoia or panic. There are real stakes here. It’s a simple precaution to contribute to ending this crisis as quickly as possible.

I’m fortunate that I have a lovely home, with a beautiful view, a huge terrace, and a pretty garden. It’s much harder to stay home when you don’t have enough room, no outside space, tiny windows… and maybe even a bad family situation.

So I don’t mean to judge anyone. That’s where the moral compass comes into play. If everyone does their best to be mindful, this pandemic will be over sooner.

“Every contribution counts. Everyone can make a difference. Just start with yourself” – Unknown

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How people behave…

It’s sad that some people are being selfish but that’s what happens during a crisis. It reveals or amplifies people’s true character.

“A person’s true character is often revealed in time of crisis or temptation. Make sure that you have what it takes to be your best in such times.” – Dr Paul TP Wong

And so, for a while, there was no toilet paper at the stores. Because apparently, some people made a business out of it. They clearly have no ethics.

Just as people bought unreasonable amounts of food in the beginning, and supermarkets were almost empty….Leaving nothing for the people who went to the store later.

That’s no way to behave. Even if these people just panicked and maybe thought that the grocery store had more in stock.

Toilet paper business

And just as some companies keep working, without ensuring social distancing. Putting their people at risk.

…So much for being socially responsible. Companies have a moral obligation to take care of their employees.

Yes, many businesses are fighting for their survival.
But that’s not the same as just not caring because you want to make a profit!

I’m a B2B marketer in the industrial sector and I’m lucky that I can work from home for the time being.
I don’t want to have anyone on my conscience.

Now, there are a lot of businesses communicating on Social Media about the Coronavirus situation.

Most posts are great, but some are simply shameless. This crisis clearly reveals their true character.

There are always people that try to profit from whatever the situation.

You don’t want to come off as uncaring and greedy.

At the same time, you need to reassure your clients that they can still count on you.

So it’s important to say something. But it’s also crucial to find the right balance between being reassuring, caring, and not too promotional.

It’s a fine line. Your intentions can be good and it can still backfire. Right and wrong is kind of blurry.

You might be surprised by your true character

Yes, you might be surprised by how you truly think and feel inside.
As long as everything is just hypothetical, we tend to overestimate our good qualities.

How gracious, selfless, caring, or courageous do you think you’d be when it counts?

At the same time, we probably also underestimate our natural instincts which may be more selfish and self-preserving than we care to admit. It’s almost like your fight or flight response.

Can you correctly guess which of the two would be your reaction?

I’m pretty sure you’ve been in a situation where you didn’t react at all like you pictured it in your mind. Good or bad.

When I was 14, a homeless guy had backed me into a corner at the bus stop and threatened me with a pair of scissors.

I had always believed that I’d be kicking and screaming if something like that happened. Instead, I was paralyzed with fear and my brain shut down. Not what I expected!

And my two friends (also 14-year old girls) ran away and left me alone with him, watching us from a safe distance. I was never angry at them, they were just s scared as I was. And they could run while I was stuck in a corner…

[The guy stabbed at me with his scissors to scare me and then took off with my money. So it didn’t end too bad].
You see, I had always imagined I’d be feisty when in reality I was so incredibly scared that my mind just went blank.

When people reveal their true character, it doesn’t mean that they behaved differently before on purpose. Or that they are pretending during the rest of the time.

It’s natural that you can’t truly know how you will react if nothing is at stake.
We all adapt and live more or less according to our society and social norms.

True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.” – Robert McKee

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A big character flaw that many of us struggle with is procrastination. But did you know that there are deep reasons why people procrastinate?

We’re all in this together

This crisis affects most of us in one way or another.
How we handle things can reveal our true character.

Maybe you didn’t even know if you really care about others or not so much.
As long as we aren’t put to the test, we may overestimate our kindness, selflessness or courage.

When you truly have to choose, you find out who you are deep down. And you may not really like what you discover.


So even if you feel great, stay home if you can.
Keep safe and stay healthy.

We’re all in this together. And we all contribute to ending this crisis as quickly as possible.

Bonus: True character quotes

Your character is who you personally are

Joseph A. Bailey

“Your character defines who you are by the actions you take”
– Catherine Pulsifer

Catherine Pulsifer quote

“Our character is a composite of people we have watched, experiences we have had, but completely relies on the decisions that we make”. – Scott Schwab

“It can be said that any one person’s overall character and demeanor is but a reflection of the sum total of his or her thoughts” – Beau Norton

crisis reveals character Beau Norton Quote

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare. – Mark Twain

Our attitude can be seen in our character, how we approach things, what our beliefs are, our perspective on issues, how we approach life, our position on topics, basically our view on life

Catherine Pulsifer

Generosity of character is important. It builds confidence by reminding you that you are a decent human being, and that you deserve any good things which might come your way

John Franz

“Your character is formed by the challenges you face and overcome”. – Nick Vujicic

“Character is the result of two things: Mental attitude and the way we spend our time” – Elbert Hubbard

Elbert Hubbard character quote

Character is what you know you are, not what others think you have

Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character

Stephen Covey

Character isn’t something you were born with and can’t change, like your fingerprints. It’s something you weren’t born with and must take responsibility for forming

Jim Rohn

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character”. – Albert Einstein

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars

Kahlil Gibran

More quotes about crisis and character

Don’t wait until you’re in a crisis to come up with a crisis plan

Phil McGraw

Character Phil McGraw Quote

You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one

Henry David Thoreau

“Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open”. – Elmer G. Letterman

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out

Thomas B. Macaulay

Crisis reveals character Thomas B. Macaulay Quote

Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught

J.C. Watts

“To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice” – Confucius

Character is the sum total of all our everyday choices

Margaret Jensen

Margaret Jensen Quote

Circumstances do not make a man, they reveal him

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking” – H. Jackson Brown

Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to our eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become

Brooke Foss Westcott


Maybe it did take a crisis to get to know yourself; maybe you needed to get whacked hard by life before you understood what you wanted out of it

Jodi Picoult

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” – Rahm Emanuel

Crisis reveals character Rahm Emanuel Quote

All people—all lives—are either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed for a crisis

Andy Andrews

You don’t know who’s good or bad until you get to that crisis point

Alex Jones

“Conflict builds character. Crisis defines it.” – Steven V. Thulon

“Being challenged in life is inevitable. Being defeated is optional” – Roger Crawford

crisis reveals character Roger Crawford Quote

Final thoughts

I hope you liked this post and these bonus quotes about how crisis can reveal true character. Think of the greater good and try to avoid contact with other people as much as you can.

Even the most introvert of us crave human connection and this pandemic ranges from “not fun” to devastating, depending on where you and your loved ones live.

If we can all help to get this crisis over with faster, your actions reveal your character…


It’s September now and the situation got so much worse in certain areas. Not only from a health perspective but also an economic one.

If you are still stuck at home and don’t really know how to overcome these challenging times, I recommend this FREE Ninja Goals Webinar.

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This webinar helps you figure out what you want from your life and get strategic about your goals. Struggles often lead to opportunities and you want to be ready when the time comes.

Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation

Zig Ziglar

Take care!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

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