Recently, I read a quote from The Little Prince that struck me: “Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” I reflected on this, considering it from both a personal and professional perspective. It was hard to admit to myself how often I judge others by what is on the outside. In my coaching work, it is important for me to observe my clients, their environment, how they work. Yet, external things can be a distraction and trigger a cascade of inferences based on my own beliefs, perspectives and experiences. Sometimes I have to push aside those things that are visible from the outside, and really pay attention at a deeper level to discover what is “essential” in another person.
But how does one see with the heart?
Over the years, I have found different ways to help myself see beyond the surface of others, to what I call their “magic.” When I can lower any preconceived notions about someone, and just be curious, that helps a lot. If someone’s physical presence (their looks, voice, mannerisms, etc.) is having an impact on my perception of them, I try to step back and figure out how that might be interfering with me seeing the real person. Sometimes, I imagine that my soul is connecting with the other person’s, and that I can see their essence shining brightly. And, because I believe that each person is uniquely and wondrously made, and wants to be known for who they really are inside, I am moved to take the time to see them with my heart and not just my eyes.
Of course, if we rely less on our sight, we instinctively turn to other senses. Listening at a deep level, to both what is said and unsaid, and how it is said, helps me to hear someone’s true voice. Some of the biggest a-ha moments clients have had with me are when I coached them to share the unspoken beliefs, assumptions, dreams or even fears they hold. By providing a space to be heard, we give others a rare gift. What is invisible to the eye can be detected if we both listen and see with our heart.
How do you discover what is essential in others? What have you found to be helpful in getting a glimpse of another’s true self? What might be different for you, professionally, if you honed your own ability to see others with your heart? If I can support you in exploring any of these questions, please let me know.
Sharon Keys Seal