Thursday, August 26, 2010
Eminent psychologist Alfred Adler's (1870-1937), "Understanding Human Nature" is a ground- breaking book outlining the dynamics, psychology and neurosis of human nature. For me, Adler's salient point in his "Individual Psychology" is that we are all slaves to our motivations. Whatever, driving need within all of us, move us to act in fulfilling that need. Adler says,"...A change of attitude in adult life need not necessarily lead to a change of behavior pattern. The psyche does not change its foundation; the individual retains the same tendencies in childhood and in maturity, leading us to deduce that her goal in life is unaltered." (P.4) He further asserts, "A person's mental life is determined by his goals. No human being can think, feel, wish, or dream without all these activities being determined, continued, modified and directed toward an ever-present objective." (P. 15).
Adler's conceptual framework served me well in constructing my model on charisma. Whether you witness the magnetism of President Barack Obama, the magnanimity of Oprah Winfrey or the altruism of Bono, they are all moved by their compelling drives and motivation, which are all self-serving.
Adler cut through the chase in defining the human psyche that was de-mystifying in ways that eclipsed Sigmund Freud. Although contemporaries, Adler's contribution to psychology seems much more visceral and pragmatic than that of Freud.
I highly recommend "Understanding Human Nature" as a timeless tome more
relevant today than a century ago.
Adler, A. (1998), Understanding human nature. Minnesota: Hazelden Foundation
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Friday, August 20, 2010
The movie "The Stepfather" is a psycho-drama where you don't need Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees to be your worst nightmare. It's the nice looking, Kurt Rusell-esque guy next door to be concerned about. In this instance, "The Stepfather" has a few things going to exemplify the weaknesses of human nature. For one, David Harris (Dylan Walsh) is invited into these homes by women who are attractive, single and operate as the primary parent. But what does he do to enamor himself with these ladies? Charisma and charm can be used for good and evil, but you decide your own case. David does a few things that speak to the voids in the women he entangles in his web. David:
--Finds attractive, single mothers shopping in stores with their children and engages them by being open and vulnerable ("My wife and daughter were killed in a car accident...I'm new in town and don't know my way around.")
--Targets attractive women with children, because an attractive, eligible, and tolerant man to bring into their world might initially be challenging. David makes himself available.
--Plays it cool. David isn't stressed and seems indifferent to what the women might do. But, because he's figured out their psychodynamics, he feels confident he can predict what they're inclined to do, which is to invite him into their lives.
---Interacts well with the children. To get the cow express interest in her calf! If David demonstrates he is father material, the women can quickly envision him being an addition to a newly formed family. They get a new mate and the children get a new father.
All in all, "The Stepfather" is instructional for illustrating the precepts to getting one's feet in the door to any opportunity, whether it's finding a new love or exploring new job opportunities.
I recommend "The Stepfather" for these "Take aways" alone.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I searched Barack Obama's, "Dreams from My Father," in hopes of finding signs forecasting his ascension to the U.S. Presidency as well as evidence pointing to his inclusion into the School of Charismatic Leadership. Interesting, I saw all evidence wanting. There were no signs as exemplified in David Maraniss', "First in His Class," a biography on President Bill Clinton's evolution to power.
At best, it is a reclamation of a man who idealized an element of black sub-culture, based on skin color, only to find his own truth in a world fraught with contradictions. The climax of the book came while in Africa, as Obama and his sister Auma are speaking with an old history teacher of Auma's. Dr. Rukia Odero says," ...You know, young black Americans tend to romanticize Africa so. When your father and I were young, it was the opposite -we expected to find all the answers in America. Harlem. Chicago. Langston Hughes and James Baldwin. That's where we drew our inspiration. And the Kennedys---they were very popular" (p. 433). Throughout "Dreams from My Father," Obama is expressing the disconnection of his personal experiences with those who share the same skin color. As usual the case when one feels he's not "Black enough (complexion and psychologically)," he over compensates believing that the sub-culturally described definition of being black is the objective definition. Dr. Odero's insights closes the gap of the proverbially, "Grass being greener on the other side." By closing the psychological gap, Obama is allowed to embrace the truism that his global experiences have allowed: Born In Hawaii to a white Kansan mother and black Kenyan father, reared in Indonesia by an Asian step-father, educated in the highest pedigreed universities in the world, and finally, being able to point directly to a country (Kenya) that engenders his future aspirations being manifested in America.
"Dreams from My Father" is an immigrant story in the vein of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rupert Murdoch with sociological underpinning of the Black Experience as a construct. The beauty of Obama's writing is the social experiment he engages himself in to find a panacea for the psychological malaise (part self-induced, part uncontrolled social forces) he experienced growing up. Obama is reminiscent of a scientist who uses himself as a guinea pig to find a special elixir. As such, he has produced a psychological blue print, steeped in hybridized cultural influences of power for the ages. A call to action would be, "Find an authentic socio/psychological philosophy to base your understanding of the world and consolidate power from that perspective."
A must read by a man who would become the most powerful person in the world and the process that got him there.
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Thursday, August 5, 2010
Craig Venter (Science). Venter is credited for being one of the first persons to sequence the human genome. Craig Venter’s accomplishments have influenced the future of biotechnology fused with entrepreneurialism. Much, like Alexander Graham Bell, Venter is a scientific businessman, which made science sexy by taking research out of the laboratory and placing it into the marketplace.
“Superfly” (Movie). Ron O’Neal’s portrayal of Priest made the drug culture attractive, although the movie was meant to provide an anti-drug message. This 1970’s explosion captured imaginations through O’Neal’s charisma, Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack, a tight storyline and the styles of that period. Movies like: “Scarface,” “New Jack City” and “Sugar Hill” are cut from this genre.
“The Mack” (Movie). “The Mack” starred Max Julien, which revolutionized and glamorized the pimp lifestyle. This 1970’s megahit showed the rise and fall of a pimp much like Al Pacino’s portrayal of Tony Montana in “Scarface.” While “The Mack” attempted to show the downside of street life with some peppering of messages like “Staying in school,” it largely influenced a generation of Rappers who point to “The Mack” as a rags to riches saga for achieving one’s goals at any cost.
Evel Knievel (Stunt man). Robert Craig Knievel was the first rock star stunt man who captured the imagination by jumping over cars, buses and a canyon with a motorcycle. Knievel can be credited for influencing today’s extreme sports from motorcycle jumping to bikes and skateboards.
Julius Erving (“Dr. J”-Basketball). Dr. J influenced contemporary basketball played “above the rim”. Erving’s impact created the legendary Michael Jordan, who mesmerized a legion of basketball players whose acrobatics on the court has raised the NBA brand to global proportions.
Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five (Rap). This group broke ground in 1982 by producing the first urban experience song “The Message.” “The Message” changed the whole genre of Rap music from boasting about personal exploits to characterizing the visceral experiences of life in urban communities.
F. Lee Bailey (Law). While there was a line of influential attorneys before F. Lee Bailey, he was instrumental in ushering the “super lawyer” as a media darling. Bailey was instrumental in raising the profile of the law profession through high profile cases to where today’s court shows are media successes. The likes of Johnnie Cochran and Willie Gary come out of Bailey’s influence and impact.
Gianni Versace (Fashion Designer). Versace was instrumental in placing fashion on the front burner of contemporary minds as he placed clothing on celebrity behinds. Versace impacted the fashion industry by making individuals rock stars by merely wearing the Versace label.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
In the end, the mission of charismatic leaders supersedes a passion for people. People are mere means for accomplishing a vision. Followers become enraptured in a task bigger than themselves, which give them a purpose for existing and societal needs are fulfilled through the sheer force, determination and fortitude of the charismatic leader. Arguably, without the efforts of the charismatic leader, great achievements would be far and few between.
McClelland, D.C. (1985). Human motivation. Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Co.