How can the United Debacle Inspire a Growth Mindset

Last week, a United passenger exited a plane in perhaps the most humiliating way. As videos emerged of a bloodied, screaming, and disoriented man being forcibly removed from a seat he paid for, shock and horror consumed us all. There was no corporate empathy from United for David Dao as he was manhandled from the plane waiting at the gate, and visibly injured in the act and no crew intervened.

United, already on list of one of the least liked airlines, took a sharp hit across the aisles. The CEO made troubling remarks blaming the passenger, members tore up their loyalty cards, company’s stocks went down, many vowed never to fly United again.


As the videos found a wide and sympathetic audience worldwide, United was forced to feel the passenger’s pain. Then they came into crisis handling mind-frame and tried to salvage some face. But damage has been done. And the next question is what now? Where does the company go from here and how does it make things right? There are big lessons in this situation and we can all learn about Growth Mindset and next steps from here.

Embrace Challenge

Challenges are a part of life and pretty much unavoidable. Ranging from big to small, challenges can either make or break you. The natural human tendency is to avoid them or ride roughshod over them, instead embracing challenges can offer avenues which we don’t see otherwise. To develop a growth mindset, we need to look at challenges as opportunities and learn to grow.

Learn from Feedback and Criticism 

What can we learn from feedback? A lot. Its a feed of suggestions, positive or negative and handled well, it can lead to improvement in your work and personality overall. Feedback offers you a chance to analyze the situation, take a step back and deal with problem in the right way. Better still, make sure you place safeguards so a bad situation doesn’t manifest itself again.

Persist in Face of Setbacks

Social Media has dramatically changed how customers and companies interact with each other. The United PR nightmare can happen to any of us, at a personal level or a corporate level. Just remember to take a deep breather, a bit of a break and then get back into the game. Switching off for a while provides you the time needed to recuperate and then stat again – with the basics set right. Quitting should never be an option.

Get Inspiration from Successes and Failures of Others

A wise man learns from mistakes of others. We’re usually inspired by success of our competitors and friends, but tend to ignore their failures or worst, make fun of them. It would take smarts to learn from their mistakes on the other hand and save yourself some failures of similar nature.

Give it Time and Space

Keep in mind that a bad situation needs time and space to blow over. People tend to talk more about your falls than they do about your wins. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to vilify a fallen person more so. But also fortunately, human memory is short and will move on to the next viral situation soon enough. It will take time and hard work but giving a bad situation time will slow down the damage.

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