D is for Developing By Choosing To Pursue A Certain Direction And Delivering Certain Results  

There are many views about how people develop. One view starts with the old maxim that: ‘The learner learns what the learner wants to learn’. It continues with the view that:

People develop by choosing to pursue a
certain direction and delivering certain results

A person may do this by embarking on a stimulating project, tackling a specific challenge or aiming to achieve a picture of success. They develop as a by-product of taking their chosen path and delivering the goods.

How to choose the direction to follow? Different people do this in different ways. Here are some of the routes they take.

They do things that give positive energy and translate these into doing a specific project. 

They serve something greater than themselves – such as a spiritual faith, a mission or a cause – and aim to translate this into action in their daily life. 

They build on their strengths, set stimulating goals and work to achieve success. 

They follow their vocation, express this in various vehicles and do valuable work. 

They focus on their purpose, principles and picture of success. 

Looking back, can you recall a time when you developed by pursuing a certain direction and translating this into delivering certain results? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

You may have pursued an interest, embarked on an adventure or explored a theme that caught your imagination. You may have done something you really cared about and turned it into doing a creative project. You may have pursued an activity where you enjoyed the journey as much as reaching the goal.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you developed by pursuing a certain direction and delivering certain results.

Describe the specific things you did to take these steps. 

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of taking these steps.


Looking ahead, imagine that you want to develop by following a certain path. What is the direction would like to pursue?

Different people give different answers to this question. Here are some of these answers.

The direction I want to pursue is:

To encourage people … To make education both enjoyable and effective … To study humanity at its best … To help people to build on their strengths … To help people to do satisfying work … To show people how to build successful and sustainable systems. 

To find ways to care for the planet … To dedicate my life to planting trees … To care for animals … To make films about the beauty of nature … To create inspiring music … To help victims of injustice … To pass on knowledge that will encourage both present and future generations.

Let’s look at some people who chose to follow certain directions and deliver certain results. You will, of course, choose your own path.

Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow chose to study healthy people and this led to creating his famous hierarchy of human needs. His books inspired people to explore the positive aspects of human potential and gave birth to several key themes in modern management.

Looking back at history, he studied individuals such as Abraham Lincoln, Jane Adams, Albert Einstein and Albert Schweitzer. He also studied living people who were fulfilling their potential.

He found that such people were true to themselves. They saw reality clearly and loved using their creativity to solve problems. They had strong ethics combined with a sense of humility and respect. Paradoxically, they could be ruthless to achieve a desired goal.

Maslow was fascinated by people who had a sense of peace and also enjoyed peak experiences. Today many people are used to talking about concepts such as flow or being in the zone. Back in the 1960s, however, this was a relatively new field of study.

George Boeree gives more background about this theme in an article about Maslow. Below is an excerpt from the article. You can discover more via the following link.

George Boeree article

A peak experience is one that takes you out of yourself, that makes you feel very tiny, or very large, to some extent one with life or nature or God. It gives you a feeling of being a part of the infinite and the eternal.

These experiences tend to leave their mark on a person, change them for the better, and many people actively seek them out.

They are also called mystical experiences and are an important part of many religious and philosophical traditions.

Maslow was a pioneer who chose to pursue a certain path. This led to introducing a fresh paradigm into psychology. Here is an old video of him talking about peak experiences. You can learn more about him via the following link.

Abraham Maslow

Mary Gordon

Mary Gordon chose to follow the direction of helping people to develop empathy. This eventually led to her writing a book and creating a programme called Roots Of Empathy. 

The programme involves bringing a local baby into the classroom. The children then learn how to understand and care for the needs of another human being.

The programme has spread to many countries. It has produced remarkable results in enabling children to become more caring, peaceful and able to solve problems. This has also reduced aggression, bullying and other social problems.

Below is an excerpt from the organisation’s website. This is followed by a video that provides a glimpse into the approach. You can discover more via the following link.


Our Mission

Roots of Empathy’s mission is to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults.

Roots of Empathy strives to break the intergenerational cycle of violence and poor parenting.

The focus of Roots of Empathy in the long term is to build capacity of the next generation for responsible citizenship and responsive parenting.

In the short term, Roots of Empathy focuses on raising levels of empathy, resulting in more respectful and caring relationships and reduced levels of bullying and aggression.

Part of our success is the universal nature of the program; all students are positively engaged instead of targeting bullies or aggressive children. 

Our Goals

To foster the development of empathy 

To develop emotional literacy

To reduce levels of bullying, aggression and violence, and promote children’s pro-social behaviours 

To increase knowledge of human development, learning, and infant safety

To prepare students for responsible citizenship and responsive parenting

Jakob von Uexkull

Jakob von Uexkull comes from a family of pioneers and chose his own path towards creating the Right Livelihood Awards. These have become known at the Alternative Nobel Prizes. The aims are:

To honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.

Jakob’s grandfather, also called Jakob, and his father, Thure, did ground-breaking work in their respective fields. They focused on biosemiotics and the environment’s influence on living systems.

Thure applied these principles to the study of psychosomatic medicine. He was also a pacifist who gave his son stamps, rather than guns, as a child.  Jakob came from a background of seeing things holistically and finding solutions to challenges.

He went on to become a philatelist and stamp trader. The latter led to him creating a successful business, which he sold to fund the first five years of the Right Livelihood Awards.

He wanted to recognise and reward people who were tackling some of the problems facing our living system. His initial move was to approach the Nobel Foundation.

The original categories for the Nobel Prizes had been set in a different world, said Jakob. Would it be possible to create awards for people tackling the present challenges facing humankind? The Nobel Foundation were polite, but said that no new categories would be added.

Jakob therefore created an alternative set of prizes and drew on an ancient idea. He chose the term Right Livelihood to symbolise ‘the whole life’.

Right Livelihood embodies the principle that each person should follow an honest occupation, which fully respects other people and the natural world. It means being responsible for the consequences of our actions and taking only a fair share of the planet’s resources.

Right Livelihood is also a Buddhist term. In that context it refers to earning a living in a way that does not harm others or the world. This is part of The Noble Eightfold Path, which encompasses the following principles. 

Right View.

Right Intention.

Right Speech.

Right Action.

Right Livelihood.

Right Effort.

Right Mindfulness.

Right Concentration.

Jakob continues to follow his direction of tackling humanity’s challenges. As part of this journey he has also founded the World Future Council.

The Right Livelihood Awards continue to ensure that solutions to the world’s challenges are taken seriously. They show how individuals and organisations are doing good work that helps both people and the planet.

Below is a video that gives more background. You can discover more via the following link.


Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think a direction you may want to pursue in the future?

You may want to encourage people, create beauty or develop pioneering technology. You may want to pass on knowledge, help people to take care of their health, tackle a specific challenge or pursue another path.

What are the results you want to deliver? You may want to help people to enjoy positive experiences, publish books or create an inspiring website. You may want to create a beautiful garden, build successful prototypes or provide practical tools that enable people to shape their futures.

If you with, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific direction you may want to pursue in the future and deliver certain results.

Describe the specific things you can do to take these steps.

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of taking these steps.

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