Many clients come to us at the Handel Group® not knowing what they want in some aspect of their lives. Take career, for example. They know that they are not fulfilled in their current job, but they don’t know what would be more fulfilling. They envy other people who have known from an early age what they wanted to do. They may even conclude that “I am just not a passionate person,” “I don’t really have anything that drives me” or some other sort of fiddle-faddle like that.
The truth is that we each do have a unique set of innate passions and values that comprise what I call the “fingerprint” of our heart. It is there, and it has always been there, whether we are aware of it or not. This fingerprint includes desires that are straightforward, like which hobbies are fun and which are boring, which foods are enjoyable and which are repulsive, what sounds like a fun vacation and what doesn’t. We know what style of clothes feels attractive to us and what homes feel comfortable and beautiful to us.
Also in the fingerprint of your heart are some of the deeper passions and dreams you have for yourself. What does it mean to be a “great” person? What is your definition of a “meaningful” contribution to the world? What does love mean and how do you want to manifest it? What does it look like to be a great partner, sibling, child, parent or friend? What does it take to feel happy and proud of yourself?
Show me two people and I will show you two different fingerprints. And that uniqueness is a pretty neat thing. I challenge you to not only understand your own unique fingerprint of the heart, but to then live from it. This may seem like a tall order, so let me break it down.
Step 1: Admit that you have a fingerprint.
No, you are not one of those rare individuals who was born without one. Your fingerprint is there and it is your job is to find it. Shifting your mindset this way helps you move from mystified into super-sleuth mode.
Step 2: Peel away all of the debris that muffles your heart.
This debris comes in two main forms: the chicken and the brat. The chicken is the voice of fear, that squawks loudly in your ear when your fingerprint would have you do something scary. For example, the fingerprint of my heart held that working with people on their lives was just about the most exciting and meaningful pursuit out there, for me. But the chicken was having none of that. It was scary to think of switching from the known, stable career path of science, in which I had already invested 10 years, to the path of life coaching with the Handel Group®. What if the company folded? What if I didn’t get any clients? What if I failed and everyone laughed at me for trying? What if I wasn’t welcomed back into science if I decided that coaching was some big mistake? The chicken was yelling so loudly that I went a little deaf to the actual voice of my heart.
The brat is the voice of annoyance and tries to keep you from doing things that you simply don’t want to do. For example, the fingerprint of my heart held that I should live in New York. The brat did not like that idea: “just think about all the work it would take to find an apartment in that crazy New York housing market, to downsize all of your stuff, to pick up and move somewhere new. What a hassle. Wouldn’t you rather just stay put?” The brat’s whining obscured what my heart really was telling me, which was that New York just felt like the right place to me.
Once you learn to see through the chicken and the brat, you can start to better recognize the fingerprint of your heart.
Step 3: Start to gather clues.
Just like when you enter a room, you leave your fingerprints all over it, so, too, you have left the fingerprint of your heart all over your life. It is on the choices you have made. It is on the people you have loved. It is on the incidents that have happened in your past and how you reacted to them. It is on where you spend your time and what you have been most proud (and least proud) of. One of the things that helped me see that coaching fit the fingerprint of my heart was when I made a list of my top 20 most proud moments from the past. Many of the moments on this list were actually single conversations I’d had with friends that had helped them figure out difficult challenges. Another clue that I found was when I looked at the people I most admired in my life, they all had a few things in common: they were good listeners, deeply connected to the human experience and looking to evolve themselves. That was when I began to recognize my fingerprint and let it guide me.
Your fingerprint is uniquely you and it feels fantastic to live in harmony with it. You will feel profound satisfaction and joy when who you are being in your daily life lines up with what you admire most, and the contributions that you make in the world line up with what you value most. Try it out and see what I mean.
What does the fingerprint of your heart look like and where do you see it in your life?
Dr. Samantha Sutton is a Senior Coach and Vice President and Director of Courses and Seminars at The Handel Group®. Samantha designs and leads the Handel Group’s® flagship workshop, the Life Coaching Crash Course. Samantha additionally coaches at universities such as Stanford and MIT. Prior to becoming a coach, Samantha received a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from MIT.