Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Charisma: Playing the Role!

Pulitzer Prize winning author, Edward O. Wilson in his book, On Human Nature, discusses the idea of man's relationship with the roles in society and its impact on one's "self." Essentially, Wilson contends that the role we assume become a part of our self. The conditioning process has already taken place, so that the role of employee, father and husband becomes a part of our personality. The impact of this notion is that while personality is based on biological considerations, it also largely has environmental and cultural implications. You can't determine where one begins and the other ends because of the interconnectedness. All to often, we believe that who we are is permanently shaped and formed and thus the world needs to accept us for who we are. Wilson's synthesis gives life to the changeability of the personality.

Consequently, we are what we think we are according to the roles we play. These roles, consciously conceived, can be altered through the shifting of roles coupled with a modification of behavior within this role. The great news is that all that make us human can be altered when it ceases to add value or hinders our growth. Becoming what is necessary to become more charismatic ceases to be inauthentic or fake, but a strategy of transforming into your ideal self to accomplish your objective. This turns self-limiting ideas on its head, because we can now wage a campaign that says that all means of assuming personality traits to attain a goal is not only allowable, it is necessary in a social context for achieving one's aim. If most of what we have become socialized to believe rests on the idea of a genuine and authentic self, it is only true to the extent that we believe in such a thing as an unchanging self. Experience shows us that we are forever evolving, so the questions becomes are we intentionally evolving on our terms or merely evolving based on cultural necessity? If we are doing the latter, we are again allowing societal dictates not only script our subjective reality, but also shape the course of becoming charismatic leaders. If we are to shape our personalities and thus our destinies, we must have a concerted hand in its formation. If everything that gives form to our aspirations is in our grasp, we are the creators of our subjective reality. The roles that we play either adhere to our ideals or accommodate a social desire.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Charisma & The New Casanova

The fine art of the lady's man has been lost to the brutish and unsophisticated ways of contemporary society. Famed libertine and lover, Giacomo Casanova, relayed the secret of his feminine conquests in his memoirs by saying he merely struck up a conversation and began chatting. At first blush you might ask," What was he chatting about that would make him the most revered lover in human history?" By today's standards, the mere idea of successfully dating the opposite sex may take on different dimensions. For example, with the changing roles of women and the proliferation of information, could Casanova thrive in today's market? At first glimpse, one could assert that he would not. Certainly a "rap" of hundreds of years ago would not go over well in today's society or would it? We should first ask the questions as to how much has human nature changed over the years. Has the essential motivation of women changed since the days of Casanova? A strong argument could be made that it has not. If Casanova merely struck up conversations with women then the social dynamics have not changed, although the quality of the content may have been altered. In short, Casanova's success stemmed from his ability to understand human nature and tap into the needs and desires of women. During Casanova's days where women were relegated to property in many instances, it would seem easy for contemporary men to 'woo" women with innovative charm. The fact is that contemporary man has not evolved to appreciate the sophistication behind successfully engaging and dating women.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Silence of Charisma

A study conducted by Dr. Albert Mehrabian of U.C.L.A. concluded that we understand 7%by others words, 38% by their tone of voice and 55% by their body language. Charismatic leaders are masters at reading people's non-verbal language. When you are listening to another person, you should not merely listen to their words, but what their body is communicating. This is also evolutionary in scope and increases in expertise with higher levels of study and concentration. How many times have you witnessed a man attempting to make a date with a woman utilizing all the charm and skill he could muster? As he stood there telling her how beautiful she was and how the sun rose and set on her mere presence, she responded with folded arms, "Yes and no" answers, and an inundation with her watch. She never once gave him the slightest inkling that she had an interest in him. She didn't say anything specifically, but her body language spoke volumes. Her 'would-be' suitor was totally oblivious to her communication. His actions are a sign of a person bereft of charisma. He was so interested in presenting his point of view that he failed to realize that she was expressing hers. This social faux pas, which is easily learned by study and observation, is the reason why many people are not deemed charismatic and are largely unsuccessful compared to those who are better skilled in communication.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Charisma Factor

The California governorship of Arnold Schwartzenegger is a prime example of leveraging personality to strengthen one's position. The citizens of California faced an $8 Billion deficit with an astronomical tax base. It was understandable that they needed a change--a drastic one! While it would have seemed prudent to elect a governor with an aggressive and ambitious plan of action based on a proven track record, they did the reverse. Arnold Schwartzenegger with no political experience, proven track record or plan of action was overwhelmingly elected with nearly 49% of the votes. Some analyst attributed Schwartzenegger's win to his charisma and movie screen appeal. If this is true, the whole idea of how the world really operates has to be recognized and reexamined. This is a telling sign of where resources, motivation and focus should be directed. While, competency will always be the essential component for maintaining a position of strength, it is the perceptions one creates that garner the power and influence that people are apt to follow. If you are not considering the impact of the perceptions you create with a firm understanding of human nature, it will be extremely difficult to strengthen your ability to galvanize organizations. This notion goes contrary to most of the tenets we have been taught about acceptability, fair play and humility. Actually, the idea of strategic positioning based on personality is a departure from everything we have been taught. A productive citizen is seen as valuing family, education and equitable public policy. After all, doesn't this lend itself to perpetuating civilization? Are we saying now that civilization takes a backseat to imagery and media manipulation? The answer is yes. The distribution of resources, opportunities and power gets doled out to individuals who captivate and capture the imagination of decision and policy makers.

Enhancing one's charisma begins with first accepting charisma as a way of life in conjunction with the machinations of human nature. Charisma is a skill set that is cultivated like any other learned skill like driving, writing or communicating. The biggest components that make individuals unique are their ability to express themselves verbally and nonverbally. Structurally speaking, we are the same physiologically. As such, self- expression is the only thing that makes us unique and should be cultivated. What does your walk say about you? How do you articulate yourself and what might people draw from your words? Do you slouch or stand erect? Everything you do is a form of expression either making you engaging or repulsive. If you haven't thought about how your self-expression or charisma is being reflected, you should begin to do so to effectively compete on the world stage.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Charisma: Conceding to Power

Recently, a young woman revealed that she had gained very little by knowing purported "movers and shakers." Her attitude was that knowing decision makers and people in power was a ruse. People didn't help merely because they knew her. When questioned about how she positioned her request for help, she admitted that she approached the situation like most people do, she begged. While some people have become quite prosperous begging, this is not the savviest approach for engaging the good will of others. Begging keeps one in a position of weakness, often attempting to make the other person feel remorseful about your situation. Inherently, people don't respect what they perceive as weakness and therefore treat you paternalistically. The idea is to change the perception and thus reposition the dynamics of your abilities. A more prudent approach would be tying the aspirations of the charismatic into the aspirations of others. Once you figure out the higher goals of the other person, connect theirs to yours. For example, if you were looking for sponsors for an event that you wanted to implement, no matter how magnanimous the cause, the potential sponsor is looking for how the event benefits his company. Find out the company mission of the potential sponsor and tie that mission into what you are attempting to achieve. If the sponsor is a radio station, offer to give a scholarship to a student at one of the universities majoring in broadcast communications. You get what you want through sponsorship dollars and the sponsor gets what it wants through favorable publicity as a contributor to educational causes.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Charisma: Can Minds Be Opened?

The idea of a completely open mind is a misnomer. For a true open mind to exist, one must have a blank slate of experiences without any preconceived notions. As soon as a person begins to have experiences, she ceases to have an open mind, holding close to ideas and paradigms that help make sense of the world. Invariably, your value comes in creating a greater awareness whether it is accepted or not.

As pattern-seeking individuals, our paradigms help us make rapid sense of how the world operates, using these patterns to protect us physically and emotionally. Our experiences come through personal encounters or vicariously through others. As such, new information will do one of three things to a person's paradigm: 1. Transform or shift, 2. Expand, 3. Fall by the wayside. In transforming or shifting a paradigm, the individual has accepted a new pattern of thinking that supersedes a previous thought pattern. Depending on the malleability of the person's willingness to change, this transformation may be smooth or a tumultuous intrusion.

The new mode of thinking is antithetical to the previous thought pattern. The individual willingly chooses to change paradigm, because she has found greater protection with deeper awareness. Secondly, the individual will expand her paradigm by building on supplemental information that solidifies current modes of thinking. Semantically, this might be viewed as a transformation or shift, but in this view, the person is not releasing a viewpoint, but merely adding to the accepted belief system. This might be defined as experiencing a moment of clarity. Finally, information may fall by the wayside, because it has hit upon a mindset that either doesn't see the value or outright rejects the notion. The person doesn't get it or see the relevancy. The most important point to remember is that information is consistently filtered to occupy one of these spaces. You want your ideas to transform or expand, but hopefully never fall by the wayside.

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