Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wanted: Charismatic Leaders and Ideas

Since the election of President Barack Obama, the conversation surrounding charismatic leadership has quieted. This is a dramatic shift from candidate Obama who regaled the world reminiscent of John F. Kennedy’s “Camelot.” Obama’s youthful vigor, enthusiasm and good looks were a breath of fresh air in an attempt to “reset” the agenda for geopolitics and commerce in a global economy. The world had waited for a change in business and politics and Obama seemed to answer the clarion call. What happened? How could a candidate who came out of virtually nowhere have a meteoric rise and then the connectivity and charisma ascribed to him become muted? The obvious question would be, “Was candidate Obama a bona fide charismatic or merely more interesting compared to the field of his non-charismatic competitors?” More importantly, is society so desirous of leadership with passion and a compelling vision that it will support anyone who comes close to this ideal? Suffice to say that when leaders, generally, and charismatic leaders, specifically, are not in abundance, any uptick towards a semblance of leadership is not only embraced, but revered. The fact is that charismatic leadership is scarce because there are too few people steeped in the field of ideas. Sexy marketing is in and the hard fought battle of reconciling disparate ideas and concepts is out. Contemporary society is witnessing the “dummying down” of intelligence in an information, digital age. Such a thought appears oxymoronic. How could the democratization of information produce so few great men and women of ideas? How could the great universities of the world not produce a sea of Einsteins or a phalanx of Alexander Hamiltons? Only in a time where one does not have to dig for information could ideas that produce compelling and magnetic leaders be quashed.

What is the connection between charismatic leaders and ideas?

When the mind is disciplined to read and absorb a great deal of information, it sees patterns and voids in ways the less intellectual cannot. If the mind is a computer within itself, it arranges ideas that seem disconnected into a tapestry of form. It fills empty spaces within the human experience with substance hoped for, but not realized until now. It is like someone having a taste for something sweet, but does not know what dessert would actually fulfill the desire. If one was posed options to select from, the person would decide the appropriate treat based on taste and satisfaction. Thought leaders who turn ideas into compelling visions do not create to lead, they create and the audience embraces the viability of the idea and follows. The thought leader revels in the field of ideas. Ideas revitalize, capture and spark new realities converse to mere existence. The individual devoid of ideas is a lifeless lump of clay. Better yet, a living, breathing, “Lifeless,” lump of clay.

Thought leaders with compelling ideas delivered with passion reflect charismatic leadership. They breathe life into individuals that either encourages similar initiatives or a renewed purpose on the part of individuals. The field of ideas creates these leaders, but one must be intellectually curious to wallow in the possibilities. Because the Information Age has not produced individuals with great intellectual curiosity, it has not produced an abundance of thought leaders who inspire hope and the manifestation of ideas. It has created people who regurgitate information as a means of satisfying limited needs (Term papers, answers to immediate questions, trivial pursuit, etc…), but not the next Alexander the Great, Emerson or Machiavelli.

Within any presidency or position of leadership, it is important to inspire hope and optimism, but at the end of the day, the continuous creation, processing and implementation of ideas are essential. The world can become saturated with entertainment, sports and even technology, but the field of compelling ideas with never be overrun. The charismatic leader chooses the road less travelled. To choose the road less travelled makes all the difference in the world.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Prada" is a Charismatic

This review is from: The Devil Wears Prada (Full Screen Edition) (DVD)

"The Devil Wears Prada" is a staple in my personal movie library. Rarely has a lioness been more enticing or vicious in corporate America as Meryl Streep's "Miranda Priestley." Priestley is equal to task to Michael Douglas' "Gordon Gekko" in the movie "Wall Street." But, why do we love these characters that would do anything to achieve and maintain professional success? I believe "...Prada" is a microcosm of the world. Most people are afraid to wholeheartedly go after the "Brass Ring." When we see the likes of a Miranda Priestley (Streep) entering onto the world stage, we love and loathe her simultaneously for her viciousness as well as her victories. While she may exhibit somewhat psychopathic tendencies, she is not the shrinking violet many would have her be. In fact, her subordinates become victims of the "Stockholm Syndrome." While the fashion industry isn't a philanthropic endeavor, the characters become sucked into her vortex, enamored by the passion and sheer excellence Miranda puts into her vocation. Meryl Streep was edged out by Helen Mirren's "The Queen" for the Oscar, but it's Streep's riveting performance that keeps me repeating the experience.

Watch "The Devil Wears Prada" to be entertained and educated about the ways of the world. The most salient one liner in the movie was Streep's divulging a truism of contemporary society and its pursuit of acclaim, fame and fortune, "Everyone wants to be us."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Charisma Of A New Concept

This review is from: Fling (DVD)

"Fling" is one of those "sleeper" hits. The kind of movie that doesn't have blockbuster appeal, but creates its own cult following on the DVD scene. Why? Because it challenges conventional thinking in ways that frighten mainstream mores. To engage in romantic relationships, where each party isn't attempting to own the other person, is counterintuitive to our Judeo-Christian socialization. "Fling" makes an overt commentary that might be missed by the typical viewer--conform or be alone. Granted, it's difficult to be emotionally detached and compartmentalized when feelings emerge in relationships. But, does the emotional conflict derive because we legitimately feel expectations from love or have we been socialized to respond a certain way, because of the societal scripts we read from? If we respond emotionally from the framework of our socialization, I suspect it'll be the later--we feel emotional connection from our psychological scripts.

"Fling" attempts to dissect and explore the emotional possibilities of "Free Love." In keeping with conventional wisdom, Hollywood let's the explorer lose in the end. Not because the idea is preposterous, but because "Free Love" would disrupt life as we know it.

I highly recommend "Fling" to the intellectually enlightened.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Charisma of Simone

This review is from: Simone (DVD)

"Simone" is "A Thinking Person's" movie. It's one of those "would if" movies where the concept trumps the acting and cinematography. Would if you could digitally produce a musician, athlete or actor for the pure purpose of entertaining a population and didn't have to worry about prima donnas, excessive salaries and bloated budgets? What if, for the first time, a bona fide celebrity could be created from the dark recesses of a computer and appear more real than the latest phenom? From the election of the President to the latest fad, "Simone" shows how far society has come in creating illusions that people not only buy into, but relish as a way of life better than reality. There is philosophical subtext throughout "Simone" commenting on how far we've devolved as a society without being sermonic. However, what initially was a moral dilemma becomes an acceptance of the world "as is." In the end, the audience is left with the option of fighting an uphill battle over reality or surrendering by adapting to the environment of illusion. Darwin said that the person best able to adapt to an environment would thrive.

"Simone" is a comedy, but the concept is strikingly real.