In Mindset terms, Feedback is a mechanism which can either be taken as a personal attack (fixed Mindset) where defences would go up, others may be blamed, the reaction might be aggressive or upset and no message would be taken from the information given, let alone acted on. However, the Growth Mindset perspective on feedback is more positive and helpful to achievement. In a Growth Mindset, feedback is received gratefully and listened to – not just listened to but often acted upon. The receiver of feedback is grateful because they are given information to support improvement. Progress is more likely to occur.
So how can we relate this to our Covid 19 situation currently?
Stay home, support the NHS, save lives.
This is the slogan we have all come to know all too well. It sums up everything about this moment in time. But how are we doing? Well at the time of writing this, the feedback has been that the majority of us are doing well but I watched Matt Hancock, our health secretary verge on sounding like a head teacher when he said that those that are ignoring the instructions are spoiling it for everyone if they are forced to tell us we can no longer go out to take one piece of exercise a day should the rules continue to be flouted by a minority.
With the timing of the Queen’s address to the nation on Sunday 5th April to rally the country together and the letter that I assume every household has received through the post from Boris Johnson telling us to stay at home and the political broadcasts that have started going out given by the Chief Medical officer giving a message in the same vain, I feel that every effort is made to gain full compliance so that taking away our freedom to at least exercise is not taken away. The feedback is that we are doing well (most of us) but keep going – we haven’t got this … YET. We are definitely firmly on that learning curve but making progress and we will make more if we just stay away from each other.
It’s so important that we get this feedback and that includes the run down given each day as to where we are with fighting this virus as the changes are coming daily – whilst some thrive on change and are fine with not knowing what’s coming next, others feel a lot more vulnerable in this situation of uncertainty, but at least by having the information we can start to understand the complexities of the situation and realise that politicians and experts are not trying to blind us or blag their way through this. They are learning the virus as it takes hold at looking at data constantly. For the first time in a very long time, I personally feel that our leaders are on almost the same footing as us and levelling with us. In fact, Boris Johnson has used those very words in addresses and in the letter he has sent out. He says he must level with us that some of us are going to lose loved ones before their time so to try to stop the spread of the virus sooner, we must stay at home and practice social distancing. It is this kind of feedback to some who’s actions have flouted these warnings that aims to hit emotionally. That is the main weapon the government has, short of bringing the law into it but they are keen not to get to that stage. We can and we must improve by getting everybody following the guidelines.
It was therefore, with all these messages about staying at home being presented, completely astounding when the Chief Medical Officer in Scotland Dr Catherine Calderwood, who had been giving the same message to citizens in Scotland, was caught travelling from Edinburgh to her second home in Fife. She was, understandably, up for a lot of criticism and that criticism and feedback gave her and the First Minister in Scotland cause to rethink the original plan for her to stay in post. It was reported that they felt it risked distracting from and undermining confidence in the government's public health message at this crucial time which was not a risk either of them were willing to take. The situation could be made worse by her staying in post and the criticism and feedback about her actions was beginning to bubble – it was probably a sensible decision to improve the dire situation and the reports I have read suggest that it was Calderwood who put forward her resignation to Nicola Sturgon. She had heard the feedback and apologised unreservedly but it was too late. She knew she had to go to ensure the hard work she had already done towards the countries response to the virus was not in vain.