Carl Jung once said that your vision will become clear only when you look into your own heart, who looks outside, dreams, who looks inside, awakes. As it turns out, Jung, like many before him, was onto something: the essence of what truly matters is within you. When you develop clarity, rather than look to the external world, you will build the discipline to look inward to your core values, experiences, and competencies and discover the answers to your problems.
Clarity plays a major role in our self-development and in building self-awareness, a critical component of emotional intelligence. With increased self-awareness, you learn to continuously define your understanding of yourself in the present moment and your relation to the world around you. In St. Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince, the fox teaches the Prince a valuable lesson, what matters is invisible to the eyes, the essential can only be seen with the heart.
The heart essentially symbolizes the soul or spirit, or one’s an internal moral compass to see what truly matters in life. Through the eyes, you see the external world with all its frivolity, and as such, can become easily deceived; but what is real, valuable, and essential can only be seen with the internal eye, the feeling heart.
Once the fox perceives the Prince’s true nature, he grows to care for him. Similarly, when you look within to examine your true nature, the knowledge you discover as a result of increased self-awareness will allow you to understand your self-worth and to define what truly matters to you.
John Mayer, one of the first psychologists to study emotional intelligence, describes self-awareness as being “aware of both our mood and our thoughts about mood.” Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of Emotional Intelligence, further defines self-awareness as the ability to read and understand our emotions as well as recognize their impact on others. Simply put, self-awareness is a basic understanding of how we feel and why we feel that way, how these feelings either hurt or help, and what we can do.
Self-awareness means being clear on your core values and sense of purpose. You can more easily manage your feelings and make better decisions on how to respond to others. With increased self-awareness, you understand your strengths and limitations and can operate from competence.
Clarity builds confidence and provides a sense of being able to see situations without the distortion of fearful beliefs and intense emotions. It allows you to also set healthy boundaries and make sound decisions. To understand how clarity helps build a deeper awareness of self, imagine someone asks you to dive into a body of murky water, you’re not likely to jump in; but if the water is transparent and you can see the depths, you will proceed with more confidence and courage.
The most effective leaders start with clarity. When you align your talk with your core values and govern your behaviours accordingly, you will be able to role-play not role-model. Consequently, others might follow suit because they see an alignment of your values in your actions, which inevitably builds trust as others see you as trustworthy and consistent.
Leaders who lead with clarity stay consistent and committed to their path, are forward-looking, competent, intelligent, and broad-minded when it comes to perspective-taking. They can also delve into their experiences to learn from past miscalculations and plan with more courage.
As a leadership trait, clarity also helps you effectively establish a clear track record of what works well and what doesn’t. With this scorecard, you can more readily discern between distractive internal chatter and intuition to hone critical thinking skills and take risks confidently. And when you communicate your vision and goals with more confidence, others will be encouraged to come along and collaborate with less fear of failure.
Creativity is intelligence having fun. Albert Einstein
Clarity helps you practice mindfulness. Whatever you call it, prayer, meditation, or simply being in the present moment, clarity invites mindfulness and enables you to filter out all the noise and distractions so you can connect with your inner self.
With more focus, you can make sense of the present situation, you’ll discover flow, and greatly enjoy what you are doing. This leads to better mental and physical health as well.
Bringing It All Together
The message is clear: what truly matters is not external, it’s inside of you.
The universe is full of distractions, stay focused.
The universe offers many stories, they are not yours to live, write your own and stay true to it.
So you, like the Little Prince, can travel the entire universe in search of answers. You can meet with kings, vain men and drunkards, lamplighters and geographers, businessmen and salesclerks. You can even give your heart to a selfish rose or surrender it to a toxic snake.
The choice is yours.
When you look inside your heart in the present moment, you can explore the answers to your problems. The universe may be full of answers, but your truth lives within your heart, and your heart contains the entire universe in constant motion.
So learn to pause, listen to your heart, and uncover the answers that lie within you.
With that clarity, you’ll discover the greatest lesson the wise fox shared with the Little Prince: to look beneath the surface to find the truth and meaning of a thing, to see with your heart instead of just with your eyes.