Crisis exaggerates our character (Do you like what you see?)

Crisis exaggerates our character (Do you like what you see?)

Apr 08, 2020

In my talks I always discuss how money is an enabler and an exaggerator. If you’re a good person and you become rich, you’re able to spread your kindness more. If you’re a jerk and you become rich, you become a bigger jerk! Your true character becomes more evident if you have too much or not enough money.

It’s the same thing when facing a crisis like the pandemic that we’re in right now. Our true color is revealed. To joke about it, we say, “Sa panahon ng krisis gaya ng lockdown, lumalabas and tunay na kulay ng ating pagkatao. Lumalabas din ang tunay na kulay ng ating buhok!” 🙂

But seriously, this unprecedented crisis has brought out the true colors of everyone – from our leaders down to the members of our households.

In the Philippine setting, we are giving praise to local leaders who are doing their job well. This shows the state of our governance that we find the likes of Mayor Vico Sotto already exceptional even as he himself says that he’s only doing his job. I do not belittle his efforts at all because I know that doing his job without corruption and other compromises is already heroic in these days, but I wish to point out the sorry state that we’re in. We have gotten so used to corruption and inefficiency in government. Namanhid na ba tayo? Pinababa na lang ba natin ang standards natin para hindi tayo laging disappointed? Sayang ang wrinkles?

Our national leaders are showing epic fails in terms of conducting themselves during this crisis. Their actions are the exact opposite of how good leaders behave as discussed in the book of Simon Sinek entitled Leaders Eat Last. They put themselves in front of the line having themselves, their family members, and even household staff tested for covid 19, even if they know that there are not enough test kits even for those already exhibiting symptoms. They totally disregard protocols they themselves set. Moreover, they also endanger other people, including our dwindling healthy medical professionals and other frontliners, by going to the hospital, grocery, and who knows where else, despite knowing that they are covid 19 positive!

What happens when we see our “leaders eat first?” We feel unprotected, unsafe, abandoned. We feel the danger so much that we panic and end up doing irrational and even dangerous things. It becomes “to each his own.”

Look at how they treat us in the way they hold the president’s addresses to the nation. These events are supposed to calm our nerves, give us assurance that our government is doing everything to help each one of us during the crisis, and account for the usage of the PhP275 billion under the emergency powers granted to him. We look to these addresses as the venue where we will understand the plan, get clear orders on how we will all proceed.

But what has been happening? Four o’clock in the afternoon becomes almost midnight. Clear orders become ramblings full of curses, orders to the policemen, “Shoot!” order to the Finance Secretary, “Magnakaw” coupled with directionless narrations, ridiculous insults about big teeth, etc. that do nothing to calm our nerves and unite us. We end up more confused, scared, angry, and helpless.

And here’s the clincher, a lot of his supporters still rationalize his irrational behavior. Don’t they realize that they are enabling his behavior by doing that? Don’t they know that as supporters, they have to help him get his act together by telling him the truth?

In Behavioral Economics, there is a principle called Sunk Cost Fallacy, our tendency to continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources, and I suppose that is what’s happening here. Even if one is so unforgiving of similar or even milder mishaps of others, he can continue to give excuses for the one he voted for because he has already invested so much time, maybe money, and emotions even losing some friends in the process. Fortunately, there are already some supporters who have written off the sunk cost that they’ve invested and are helping others see the true color so they can assess the situation without that burden.

What’s your true color?

The truth is our true colors are all coming out now. The way our government treats us has always been like that. It is just exaggerated and put in spotlight right now while we are in this crisis.

It is the same for all of us. We have always been who we are prior to the crisis, but everything is just exaggerated now.

In the days that we have been with our family members 24/7, we see everyone’s true colors. We see how our spouse and children work, we hear them talk to their co-workers, clients, and other people. We get to know which of our co-workers are able to work even without the physical presence of superiors.

Most of all, we also see our own true colors. The question is, “Are we happy with what we see?”

Everyone is flawed. What’s important is for us to be honest about it. Take this Holy Week happening during the lockdown as a great opportunity to observe both our flaws and strengths. Since there will be no out of town trips happening this long weekend, let’s find that space to reflect on our own behaviors. Let’s all ask ourselves these questions. What are my weaknesses? What am I good at? What should I get rid of? What should I enhance? Have I done anything to help others during this crisis? Or have I just been complaining? Have I been really working from home or have I been shortchanging my employer with this set-up? How is my relationship with each family member? There are other questions you can add to the list. 

Here’s something else that you can do. You may join our annual tradition of culling our belongings. Every Holy Week we go through our closets and other storage areas. The exercise has a therapeutic and reflective effect. Who knows this physical culling may further help you see your own true colors?

Have a blessed Holy Week everyone.



1. Join us on #LiveAtFive with Danica Sotto-Pingris this afternoon at 5pm! We are going live on FQ Mom’s Facebook page.

2. Watch last Sunday’s #SundayFamDay Lockdown Sunday No. 4 on our YouTube channel (Click here).

3. I had a great time at #LiveAtFive on a Holy Monday with no less than Bro. Bo Sanchez who was game to sing us a song ?? at the end of the kwentuhan! Click here to watch.

4. If you missed yesterday’s Mom & Son Podcast, you may click here to listen this Holy week.

5. Have you read my book entitled The Emotional Cycle of Investing? You may download it now for free only during the lockdown period.

6. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to start your FQ journey. If you’ve taken this six or so months ago and you want to check how you have improved, you may take it again by clicking the link:

7. Reading is another coping mechanism for the lockdown. If you haven’t yet, may I invite you to read any of the FQ Mom books?

Read FQ Mom books here:


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