Lesson 4: On Care

Welcome to Lesson 4, On Care. Like Gratitude, Humility and Empathy I see Care as something better thought of as a skill than otherwise. Too often in my community work (mostly in diverse, urban communities) I have seen people show up to help on their own terms without thinking about the needs or cultural differences in their community. The results can be at times disastrous. Thinking of caring as a skill affords us the opportunity to slow down, think, learn, reason, and adapt our care for others to be effective.

In other words… caring should be about the needs of cared for and not the needs of the one providing the care.

Let’s look at an example… view this a short video about how to care for a person with a specific disability.


Now, did you know “how” to provide help to a blind person? If so, this means you learned this skill from being taught, observation, and/or practice.

I would like to make a point of defining two terms often used interchangeably as different and importantly distinct from one another. The science I will draw on for this lesson is Compassion Research. Compassion is the concern for the suffering and misfortune of others (see why the gratitude > humility > empathy trail was important leading up to this?).

I will propose that compassion is necessary for care, but alone it is NOT sufficient for effective caring.

Caring then can be defined as the work or practice of looking after others. Notice that compassion is the concern for others while caring is the work or practice of looking after others. Caring therefore requires knowledge and skill as demonstrated in the first video of this lesson.

Are you with me? My point is that effective caring requires humility (accepting that you don’t know and need to learn) and empathy (the ability to understand what others need). Otherwise, your expression of compassion (acting on it) would really be you expressing care for yourself (your point of view on what is needed) while pointing that care at someone else

Moving forward, let’s begin with the necessary precondition of caring, which is of course compassion. Here I am going to rely on this delightful talk by Dr. Jamil Zaki a leading neuroscience researcher of compassion. View the video which is 17:11 in length.


If there is any science nerd in you (like there is in me) you would have found this engaging talk scintillating!

I want to now transition from the why? question – why do we feel compassion and want to care for others – to the how? Question – how do we do this effectively.

First, let’s focus on your own growth and development. Please have your journal ready as you read this article about developing emotional agility.  

 Take 10 minutes and write about your own emotional agility. Do you feel like you are most often on the line or off the line of your emotions? What type of work do you have to do in this area?

In her book Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, Dr. Susan David identifies four key concepts in emotional agility:

Showing Up – facing your thoughts and emotions.

Stepping Out – detaching yourself from your thoughts and emotions.

Walking Your Way – knowing your core values and using them as a compass to determine your direction.

Moving On – taking small steps to changing your habits instead of grand “change plans.”

Write some more in your journal, how are you at these four emotional agility tasks?

Keeping all you have learned in this lesson about compassion, effective caring, and emotional agility please view the short dialogue found below where I will briefly discuss the Theory of Care model in the context of soft skills such as Adaptability, Critical Thinking, and Time Management.


I want to close this lesson with a commercial from Asia that I just love. Enjoy.


Please spend some time before the next lesson sitting with your own compassion, be curious about your compassion instincts and think critically about your impulses to act on them. Do you know what you need to know and how to show effective caring?

Now that you have finished with Lesson 4, answer questions 10-12 on your worksheet. Mark this lesson complete and go to Lesson 5, the final one of the course!