Monday, August 24, 2009

The Indispensability of Charisma

On August 12, 2000, my father died. But before he passed, he revealed some hard-won secrets to how, through his charisma, he was able to live life on his terms. When I say that my father had enormous charisma, it doesn't come from a doting, overly idealistic son. No, he consistently had scores of men and women around him feeding on his every word. The singers of the R& B group, Temptations, were regular guests at his home. And he had a bit part in the 1972 Blockbuster film, Superfly. It would not have been unusual for him to hold court with the likes of Adam Clayton Powell in New York City nor Shirley Chisholm as she ran for the presidency of the United States. When I speak of his charisma, I would say it was UNREAL, if I hadn't witnessed it for myself.

In retrospect, it was the result of a carefully cultivated personality, but moreover, it was a result of earlier experiences fraught with pain. Whether you are a child trying to fit in with peers or an adult trying to overcome the consequences of ill-fated choices, we all are attempting to overcome some deep-seated insecurity. To be a human being is to be insecure! My father was no different. He came from a world where men had to exemplify great physical and mental strength to gain the respect of not only other men, but women also. He became a master at understanding human nature by consistently studying the true motivation of human beings. He got so good at it that he had to be careful about the words he chose. One false move could crush a person's entire belief system. It would be easy to relegate these followers to mindless simpletons, but that would be a huge mistake. They were the same kind of people you meet every day. No one is immune from the influences of certain personalities. In fact, suffice to say that something or someone influences us all. If you think any differently, you are deluding yourself. The model car you drive, the house and location you live, the people you engage with and the church you attend, all stem from the ideals you've embraced based on some form of persuasion.

As I travel around the country and throughout the world spreading the gospel of charisma, largely from the lessons taught by my father, audiences consistently agree that style in many arenas has come to overtake substance. Maureen Orth in her book, The Importance of Becoming Famous…speaks about the Celebrity Industrial Complex. In her analysis, society has become enamored with the spectacle of celebrity and personality. It comes in two parts: the celebrity as the spectacle and the audience as hungry onlookers yearning for more. As the world continues to expand through the Internet and multi-media, the individual is becoming smaller and smaller. In fact, he is feeling smaller and smaller. Contrast this diminutive feeling with the human need for recognition and you see the emerging emotional gap. What will you do? How will you create the illusion of indispensability within your company? Are you considered the "go to" person?

You need charisma now more than ever to maintain your self-esteem as well as your livelihood. Unfortunately, saving yourself only becomes important when your back is against the wall. Guess what? Not only is your back against the wall, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. To survive, you must become famous, indispensable and a master at maneuvering on the stage of life. Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage and we're mere players." What part are you playing? And are you playing it well?

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