The Caring Approach

People can choose the approach they take in life. They can choose to pursue the caring approach or the callous approach. This section focuses on how you can continue to take the caring route. This often involves aiming:

To do something you really care about; 

To clarify the real results you want to achieve;

To be creative and deliver the desired concrete results.

Many people follow this route when encouraging their loved ones. They also follow it when doing things they love – such as caring for their garden, pursuing a hobby or doing another activity.

The caring approach mirrors some of the themes described in the craft approach, but it focuses more on your life principles. Let’s explore some of these themes.


What are the things you really care about? Here are some of the answers that people give when considering this theme.

The Things I Really Care About In Life Are:

Helping our children to be happy … Looking after my partner as we get older … Creating beautiful gardens … Helping people to find or create satisfying work … Working for justice … Helping people to learn how to manage pain … Passing on knowledge to future generations.

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


The specific things I really care about in life are:




Looking at the things you care about, you may wish to explore one that you want to translate into action. Different people choose different approaches to making this happen.

Dame Cicely Saunders, for example, cared about helping people as they reached the end of their lives. This led to her helping to create the modern hospice movement in Britain.

Cicely trained as a nurse but suffered a back injury that halted that career path. Overcoming the setback, she became a medical social worker and got a job at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London.

There she met a dying patient called David Tasma, whose plight revealed the lack of care for the terminally ill. A 40-year-old refugee from Poland, he was dying of incurable cancer.

David had no relatives so Cicely devoted many hours to talking with him about his life. Apart from exploring his feelings, they discussed the need to create special facilities for people who were dying. Denise Winn takes up the story in her book The Hospice Way.

Although the hospital did its best, David suffered much pain and discomfort, both physical and mental. It was then that Cicely first mooted the idea of building a special hospital herself, to cater specifically for the very different needs of the terminally ill.

David was thrilled to be the inspiration for such an idea and when he died he left her all his money (£500), saying ‘I’ll be a window in your home.’

Cicely embarked on her mission. She studied to become a doctor and served in several posts. She then began raising the £500,000 necessary to build a specially designed hospital with highly qualified staff.

Ten years later she achieved her vision with the opening of St. Christopher’s Hospice in South London. Denise Winn wrote describing it in the following way.

Let’s return to your own life. Looking at the things you care about, choose one of these that you would like to translate into action.

What are the reasons why you would like pursue this theme? What will be the benefits – both for yourself and other people? I you wish, try completing the following sentences.


The specific thing I care about that
I would like to translate into action is:


The specific reasons why I would like to focus
on this theme and translate it into action are:





The next step is to establish clarity. Looking at the things you care about, you may have focused on one of these themes. You can then aim:

To translate this into doing a project, doing a piece of work or doing another activity;  

To clarify the real results you want to achieve and translate this into a clear picture of success; 

To clarify the strategies you can follow to do your best to the picture of success.

Before going further, however, it is vital to underline one key point. People often invest enormous amounts of emotional energy into doing what they care about.

Staying sane therefore calls for remembering one key rule. It is important to focus on what you can control rather than what you can’t control. Let’s look at one person who took this approach

Jürgen Griesbeck is somebody who developed a clear vision. Spurred on by a tragedy, he developed Fútbol por la Paz (Football for Peace) in 1996. This was a project using football to combat violence and drugs on the streets of Medellín, Colombia.

Based on this experience, he created Straßenfußball für Toleranz (Street Football for Tolerance) in Brandenburg, Germany. His next step was to create streetfootballworld in 2002.

This harnesses the power of football to create environments that empower people to shape their future lives. Every year it reaches more than 2 million people in over 90 countries.

Running tournaments in local communities across the world, it uses football to bring people together. People make connections and combine their talents to tackle other challenges they face. Here is an introduction from their website.

Jürgen went on to work with Juan Mata, the Spanish footballer, and in 2017 they founded Common Goal. This invites those involved in football to pledge 1% of their salaries to support disadvantaged young people.

Many players, managers and other people have pledged to support the venture. Here is an excerpt from the Common Goal website. 

We’re uniting the world of footballers behind a shared commitment to give back.  

The idea is simple. Players pledge a minimum of 1% of their wages to a collective fund. And we allocate this fund to football charities that create the greatest impact worldwide.

Imagine uniting the world of football behind a shared social vision. Imagine the impact we could create and the lives we could change.

1% may seem like a small figure, yet it stands to make a big difference. 

If the entire football community pledged just 1% of its collective income to a movement like Common Goal, we would generate a colossal 400% increase in funding for high-impact football NGOs the world over.

This translates to an additional eight million disadvantaged young people gaining access to football-based development projects each year. Through Common Goal, this is what we are trying to achieve. And we want you to join us.

Imagine that you have decided to focus on one of the things you really care about. How to translate this into action? You may want to do a specific project, do a piece of work or do another activity.

What are the real results you want to achieve? What are the key strategies you can follow to give yourself the greatest chance of success?

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


The specific thing I care about that I would
like to translate into action – such as by doing
a project, a piece of work or an activity – is:


The real results I want to achieve by doing
the project, piece of work or activity are:




The strategies I can follow to give myself
the greatest chance of success when doing
the project, piece of work or activity are:




Concrete Results

Imagine that you have focused on something you care about and set a specific goal. The next step will be work towards achieving your aims.

Sometimes the route you take may be conventional by following tried and trusted techniques. Sometimes you may look for creative ways to deliver success.

Wangari Maathai was somebody who used her creativity to deliver concrete results. Best known for her work with the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, she recruited hundreds of thousands of people who planted more than 40 million trees.

She was born in 1940, the third of six children, in a traditional mud hut with no electricity or running water. Wangari said that she was fortunate because her family sent her to a primary school run by Italian nuns.

Showing great academic aptitude, she won a scholarship to the United States, being part of what was called The Kennedy Airlift. This involved some 300 Kenyans being chosen to study at American Universities.

After further study in Germany, she returned to Kenya. After working as a vet in some of the poorest areas, Wangari led academic departments in the University of Nairobi.

Extremely practical and logical (she was the first Kenyan woman to gain a Ph.D.), her work sprang from a philosophical base. She believed it was vital to live in harmony with nature and described this in the following way.

“We must repent our sins (i.e. rectify our wrongdoings) by dressing our motherland in her original beautiful and full green dress.

“In planting trees, we are adorning our motherland with belts. When we have done this our motherland will be healed and we shall reap a bounteous harvest.”

Wangari was often asked if the idea for the Green Belt Movement came to her because she was a woman. Acknowledging that women bear life and respect nature, she said it was simply searching to solve a specific problem.

This involved helping people to climb out of poverty, replenish the earth and enjoy the fruits of their labours. She described this in the following way.

Inspirations come to all of us but many of us may not have the right mental peace and tranquillity at the critical time to allow the inspiration to grow beyond the stage when it appears like a dream.

I think I was just lucky. I do not know why I nursed the inspiration until it became an idea and finally an activity. 

I think that women in the NCWK (National Council of Women in Kenya) were quite good at pursuing an idea which for a long time bore little fruit. But patience is not the prerogative of women.

Tree planting became an honourable activity in Kenya, said Wangari. This led to creating thousands of greenbelts in the country and soon spread to other countries in Africa.

The act of planting trees enabled the earth to breathe and the crops to grow. Showing it was possible to make a difference encouraged people to take more charge of shaping their futures.

Wangari achieved much in her life before her death in 2011. By then she was acknowledged as a pioneer and honoured in many countries. She also won the Nobel Peace Prize.

There are many ways to do deliver concrete results. One approach is to focus on the following theme.

Imagine that you want to do something you care about. It can be useful to focus on an activity where you also have the competence required to deliver concrete results.

Imagine that you want to play a leadership role. Let’s explore how the model applies to people in such positions.

Caring And Competent

Some leaders are both caring and competent. When talking about such a leader, people may say some of the following things.

“They show they care about people and the project … They make people feel welcome and valued … They show an interest in people and their ideas … They are good at making others feel important rather than trying to make themselves feel important.

“They create a positive environment in which motivated people can achieve peak performance … They have the strategic thinking and other skills required to do the job … They keep communicating the organisation’s purpose, principles and picture of success.

“They enable people to perform superb work … They are good at making the tough decisions required to achieve the goals … They have a track record of delivering ongoing success.”

Caring And Incompetent

Some people in leadership positions may be caring but incompetent. They may care about people and the project, but they do not demonstrate the required strategic thinking or skills.

Some leaders are successful in some situations, however, but not in others. They may be good at running a start-up company, for example, or an organisation that is facing certain challenges. But they may not have the competence to succeed in other situations.

Some leaders are honest about their capabilities and may try to develop the required skills. Some may continue behaving in an incompetent way, however, and this can cause collateral damage.
People who work for such a leader sometimes feel split. Whilst still liking the person, they see that employees may be confused and concerned. The incompetent leader’s actions can lead to the team or organisation ending up on the rocks.

Uncaring And Incompetent

Some leaders may not seem to care about people or the project. They may only care about pursuing their own agenda. They may also not demonstrate the competence required to deliver the goods.

People often switch off from such leaders. They put their heads down and get on with their own jobs. Losing belief, they try to get satisfaction from their daily tasks or outside the work place.

Uncaring And Competent

Leaders who demonstrate these characteristics can be cruel and dangerous. The only things they care about are their own agenda and power. They may be extremely competent at using techniques to pursue their aims, however, whatever the costs to other people.

People who behave like authoritarians, dictators and psychopaths can demonstrate these characteristics. Such people are never satisfied, no matter how much power they gain. They must always win and, at the same time, make sure that other people lose.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Imagine that you have focused on something you care about and set clear goals. How can you be competent and creative. How can you do best to deliver the desired results?

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

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