Sunday, March 29, 2009

Charisma: Inborn or Homegrown?

As we delve into the charismatic personality, we may not always find what we think we are looking for. Some charismatics have a seemingly natural unvarnished sense of charisma that appears inborn. As long as they can remember, friends have seen the charismatic the same way. He was given homage as a child similar to that during adulthood. Conversely, other charismatics have gone through a transformation process through extensive acting, communication and professional coaching. Is the latter less authentic than the former? Does a concerted effort to be charismatic take away from one's authenticity? The personality traits of high energy, steel determination, insight and active listening skills can be learned. Having the “capacity” for a talent is far different than entering the world with seemingly “raw” talent. The desired traits in a society are based on cultural mores. For example, a basketball player, who is 6'6", has great motor skills and hand and eye coordination isn't born to play basketball. He has the ideal capacity based on the technical aspects that make him suitable for the game. However, there is no basketball gene pool. If basketball was nonexistent, a player would still have the capacity, but wouldn't materialize in a basketball context.

The same is true for charisma! If there weren’t any social context requiring individuals to tap into the emotional needs of others, charisma would be unnecessary. These points are critical for dissecting the charismatic personality, because the purported "magic bullet" isn't predetermined, but cultivated based on the immediate culture. Do some individuals have a greater capacity for charisma? Yes, based on the social environment they were reared. Some environments are conducive to greater self-expression than others.

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