Empathy: The underdog of Aid.

I recently presented a talk at a training event hosted by the SRC for Community Interaction. I spoke to the students about three points I would like to share now, set within the following theme:

Social and Community Development through Vocational Freedom.

We all know Aristotle’s famous words: “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.”
But what does this actually mean? In one of my previous posts I tried to explain why you should not follow your passions to help others, but yourself. I want to take it one step further by explaining this.

Once again, take a look at the word; VOCATION. ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French, or from Latin vocatio(n-), from vocare ‘to call, or summoned.’

So what does that mean? This means that we have to, in the hope of social innovation through creative community development;

–       follow our passion!

–       Find/define our talents!

–       Differentiate between Passion and Interests!

You might have 21 interests, but how many of those do you actually feel passionate about?

You following what you feel Passionate about will help you create the HIGHEST expression of your talents.That, in turn, will then make the biggest impact in your community. If you understand what that means it will be the difference between you having a great career, or a missed opportunity.

So how do I do that? I want to introduce you to the word that has been buzzing in my head for a long time now:


The ability to step into the shoes of another, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions.’ That makes it different from kindness or pity.

Roman Krznaric said the biggest agent for social aid today, is EMPATHY. If you think you are hearing the word empathy everywhere, you are right.

Its now on the lips of scientists and business leaders, education expert and political activists. The big buzz about empathy stems from a revolutionary shift in the science of how understand human nature. The old views that we essentially self-interested creatures is being nudged firmly to one side by evidence that we are also homo empathicus, wired for empathy, social cooperation and mutual aid!

Just like we have vocation driving its way through your veins in your DNA, empathy is right beside it. This is important.

Krznaric then asks: How can I expand my own emphatic potential? I am going to list 6 answers.

Six Habits of Highly Empathic People

1) Cultivate curiosity about strangers

2) Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities

3) Try another person’s life

4) Listen hard- and open up

5) Inspire mass action and social change

6) Develop an ambitious imagination

You know how we say keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Why? Empathizing with adversaries is also a route to social tolerance. That was Gandhi’s thinking during the conflicts between Muslims and Hindus leading up to Indian independence in 1947, when he declared, “I am a Muslim! And a Hindu, and a Christian and a Jew.” Put yourself in the shoes of someone who share a different set of believe systems, and see what happens. Don’t just be empathic towards people whom you think needs it most.

So, for you to follow your passion en define your talents to have vocational freedom- you can start by being empathic and using those 6 habits mentioned by Krznaric.

BUT, that’s not all. For us to do this well, we need to take a look at the 3rd point, which is to learn to LISTEN to people around us.

Take a look at this image of Otto Scharmer’s U theory: ‘Leading from the future as it emerges. The social technology of PRECENCING’


If you get to the 3rd and 4th one, you will see where all of this comes into play. Teach yourself how to listen with an open heart, and open will, and you will see the future emerging not only for you- but for your community as well.







2014-02-25T08:39:54+00:00February 25th, 2014|Curiosity, Expeditions, Vocation|