What’s the Difference Between Empathy and Compassion?

Welcome to BW Missions Newsletter 25

Since the pandemic started, I’ve been establishing a fully at-home lifestyle that works for me. Now I’m acclimated, I’m letting reading trickle back into my life. Before bed last Sunday, I picked up Everybody Writes by Ann Handley and Radical Candor by Kim Scott. I spent the night switching between chapters in each book like a shower that vacillates between hot and cold.

In Kim’s book, this passage stood out to me:

“Picture yourself walking along a mountainous trail. You come across a person being crushed by a boulder on their chest. 

The empathetic response would be to feel the same sense of crushing suffocation, thus rendering you helpless. 

The compassionate response would be to recognize that the person is in pain and to do everything within your power to remove the boulder and alleviate their suffering.” 

Put another way, Compassion = Empathy + Action.

To be a genuinely compassionate person, should we be more action-oriented or empathetic?

Putting this concept into the equation of my own recent life experiences, I distributed more weight to the action side. In business, perhaps it’s harder to take the time to really feel. After all, you’re always in problem-solving mode. 

Reflecting back on what I read, I think I’d much rather be a compassionate leader than simply an action-oriented one.

To build on this notion, everyone has a unique way of showing they care about other people. This often comes in the form of helping people through tough times.

 Figuring out the delicate balance between truly caring and helping someone through a dark tunnel seems like an art form, in and of itself.

Feel free to report back if you’ve already tapped into your inner Picasso. I’d love to share your art-form leadership secrets around empathy and action.

Jessi Craig Shikman: Newsletter 25 Featured Mission

“When people ask me what I do, I joke and say “all the words.”

This is how Jessi Craig Shikman describes her work as the Editor of the First Round Review at First Round Capital. Prior to this position, she worked on publishing Stan McChrystal’s book Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World.

During our discussion about her career path, the most evident theme that emerged in the podcast episode was the importance of writing and communication. Jessi was a Russian Studies major at Georgetown University who chose to courageously pursue a career path outside the norm. 

Even though she didn’t plan to become a writer or work in content, writing is deeply entwined within every aspect of her work. She even went on to say public fiascos would be mitigated if people knew how to string their words together.

Listen to Jessi’s episode on the One Away Show and read about her story

Growth: Newsletter 25

Mid-March, we had lost 25% of our revenue. Two weeks prior, I vividly remember a call with a client in Spain. This person was visibly startled and shaken by what he had seen from COVID. For some context, he wasn’t just a client. He was a mentor, a friend, and a person I held close. 

In this moment, I realized this was just the beginning of something much more significant. I could sense that the impacts of this pandemic would continue to perpetuate if I didn’t proactively make a change in my attitude, focus, behavior, and direction.

After a scare with a sharp dip in business, BW Missions has not only gained back all of our revenue, but also come out on the other side even stronger.

Read about how we did it!

Opportunities: Newsletter 25

BW Missions is seeking a student Operations Intern [PAID]:

Carson Morell, our Director of Operations is looking to bring on an operations assistant/intern to learn and work beside him on a variety of tasks and projects. We are looking for someone ready to get their hands dirty with a strategic and growth mindset. Also, this person should have numbers acumen, appreciation for detail, strong organizational skills, grit, and a strong work ethic,

This is not a short term role. We envision growing this person over time to assist in operating many areas of our business.

APPLY or REFER link to a friend.

Forever Employable Webinar with Jeff Gothelf:

We have a few spots left for a webinar with Jeff Gothelf, a leader in the digital and personal transformation space. I’m hosting it with our Pathfinding Community I’m building on LinkedIn. We have a great group so far, and I hope you’ll join us.

Please fill out this form by Friday to be considered!

Resources: Newsletter 25


Stephen Shedletsky, Head of Brand Experience and Igniter at Simon Sinek Inc. just told me registration is open for online classes. If you haven’t seen Simon’s recording on reinvention, and how it relates to the infinite mindset, check it out. 


Read the latest by Andreesen Horowitz. Here’s my favorite excerpt of this article. I think it’s really powerful:

“Part of the problem is clearly foresight, a failure of imagination. But the other part of the problem is what we didn’t *do* in advance, and what we’re failing to do now. And that is a failure of action, and specifically our widespread inability to *build*.”

“When you lock into the specificity of something, it becomes easier to respond.”

I went into my improv class last Saturday with one goal in mind: focus on being specific. That was the “one thing” I worked on throughout the two-hour session. By the end, I noticed my response time increased in specific situations.

Improv taught me the art of paying attention to what others are saying, grabbing onto it, and diving in deep. In each sketch, I need to reply fast and try to sound somewhat intelligent. I think this has many applications in both business and life. Try it out for yourself!

The Pathfinder
Catherine Kushan

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