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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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rethinking Charisma & Reciprocity

There is an old saying in politics that there are no permanent friends nor permanent enemies, only permanent interests. In love and life, you never give without reciprocity. The notion of unconditional/ unrequited love is a misnomer set up for individuals who don't get what they want and are made to feel good about it.

People generally give for two reasons: To feel good about themselves and/or to get something in return. By second-guessing your motivations and expectations, you undermine your charisma. In most instances, the demand that you put out for reciprocity returns to you regardless of your intentions. A woman who plots and plans to make a million dollars will get what she wants by the moves she makes towards that goal despite giving to charity or hording it all to herself. One must be objective about the process, but subjective about the intention. On the world stage, there are rich misers and poor philanthropists--people who thrive without giving and others who give without thriving.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Plato & The Notion of Charisma

In Plato's, The Republic, Plato asserts that when man chooses freedom over justice, he paves the way for chaos. The mixed message is that individual behavior is to be uniform resigning itself to the norms of society, while campaigning the doctrine of limitless freedom. It's the idea of the "carrot and the stick." All processes have been designed for you to accommodate uniformity under the guise of free will. This seemingly contradictory state of affairs requires that you reconcile what appears to be irreconcilable. As such, it is imperative to begin rethinking how we view the world and our place in it. If civilization were designed to insure compliance within a social system, what would happen if we rewrote the process on our terms? At first glimpse a negative connotation of impending doom might be envisioned. Countless individuals forging ahead to implement their personal agenda despite the impact on others. However, we are not eliminating the aspects of civilization that work for perpetuity, but the aspects that prevent political and economic success. In short, we will make life conform to our way of thinking and thus revise the rules for civilization, which in turn creates synergistic and mutually beneficial relationships. How? By becoming amoral! Follow the social graces that lead to individual success, but reject etiquette that allow others to win at your expense. However, never break any laws. There is enough "wiggle room" to operate amorally without offending the sanctity of "fair play."

In the end, this paves the way for enhancing your charisma by a relentless quest to complete a mission.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Charisma & Fortitude

Basketball great Michael Jordan was not the Adonis of his neighborhood and as history has related, was largely underestimated and counted out as a basketball player. But, his personal charisma and thus his stature transcended the game of basketball.

President Bill Clinton came from an abusive and alcoholic family and wasn't seen as having a compelling nor awe-inspiring personality. In fact, he was marginalized during his college days at Georgetown University as being a "glad hander" willing to extend to the good graces of others without compunction.

While charismatics are often credited for demonstrating great confidence, what seems to be a part of their makeup is that many had earlier experiences of pain and degradation. By pulling themselves from the labyrinth of despair, they were able to reinvent themselves and thus develop an abundance of internal fortitude.

While great pain and despair may not be the sine qua non of becoming charismatic, it appears to be a catalyst for great charisma in many individuals. Such notion relate to the charismatic as a reformer or innovator. As a result of the painful experiences, he seeks to transform the world according to his personal vision as the proving ground for what should be the status quo. He relentlessly pursues a course to bringing this idea to realization, not necessarily out of the joy of being self-possessed, but by the pain of being disconnected. It is the connecting with his ideals that bare the fruits of the charismatic personality. The charismatic uses sheer will and determination with the objective always in the forefront of his mind to complete the mission with people serving as a residual source.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Building Charisma Through Reading

The processing of information is as important as the accumulation of information. Imagine a great number of pieces to a puzzle strewn on the floor. The pieces represent bits of information that are connected, but are not easily identifiable. To create a montage from these pieces requires the processing of shapes and colors. This is the same with the processing of information. By taking bits and pieces of varied readings, you fuse seemingly complex concepts into seamless order. In the end, people are paying for the order that you create through the solutions you provide. You can create a monopoly within an arena, because many people opt to defer to someone willing to expend the time and effort to give them expert knowledge rather than seeking it for themselves. Great fortunes and empires have been formed through the apathy of people.

As you increase your appetite for reading, cultivate the interest of multidiscipline subject matter. The vastness of your reading over a large area of diverse information will give you latitude and leverage in developing your specialty. Varied reading gives you a fuller picture of the playing field and allows you to maneuver in relation to your best interest. All too often, it is not the information that a person imparts that precludes their effectiveness, but the paradigm of which they view the information.

Our mode of thinking spews forth in our analysis of a situation. It is a self-fulfilling prophesy to enter a dilemma with very little insight and retrieve the outcome predicted. Once you apply the same panacea to every situation based on rote knowledge, you demean your opportunity for becoming more charismatic. It is only by expanding your sphere of reading that you develop an effective filtering process for ingestion of relevant information.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Charisma, Morality & Human Nature

The great philosopher and political theorist, Niccolo Machiavelli, noted in his book, The Prince, that to achieve any semblance of power requires the setting aside of moral imperatives. Doing what was necessary for the situation was the means by which a person achieved the success desired. Machiavelli was referring to individuals who desired to govern, but many of his philosophies are relevant to how one moves about in society. It is no mistake that the emotions of people are easily aroused through the art of oratory and the placating of fears. Once these emotions are aroused, it is easier to move the individual about at will. As a repercussion, the individual gives up her free will and is at the will of the puppet master. Individuals in this state seek to apply the same solutions in all instances. Consequently, when it's a time to defend, she seeks to retreat. When the time is to hate, she wants to love. All actions inappropriate for the situation at hand!

Napoleon Bonaparte was a devout atheist, but believed religion was good for the people, because it kept them controlled and made them easy to manage. He knew that the limitations people placed on themselves would help his personal ambitions to become emperor for life. This realization has been the foundation for many dictators in usurping the will and power of its citizenry. Any serious discussion of charismatic leadership must begin with understanding the dynamics of humans and the relationship to their social environment. Individuals view life and act according to their modes of thinking through the socialization process. We must begin analyzing what we believe to be "fact" versus "opinion."