Sunday, April 24, 2011

Charisma, Discipline and a Balanced Life

By Edward Brown

This Q & A session explores the inner workings of a charismatic person’s mind and lifestyle.

Q: What would be the most surprising aspect of a charismatic person’s lifestyle to the general public?

A: How simplistic his life is. Contrary to popular perception, a charismatic person would rather read a book, attend an educational symposium or visit a museum rather than frequent events unrelated to his mission.

Q: Is this to say, that a charismatic person is not a social animal?

A: No, he is sociable, but not in the way most people would believe. Most of his activities are mission oriented. The genuine charismatic person relishes power and control. He is less likely to attend functions that do not have some connection to his overall goals.

Q: Is this part of the discipline of the charismatic person?

A: Yes, even when he is being sociable, he is exhibiting a high degree of self-restraint and rectitude.

Q: Where does this extreme discipline come from?

A: Extreme discipline is the outgrowth of a preternatural focus on a mission. Along the way, the charismatic person made a conscious decision to rid himself of any ineffective habits, insignificant relationships, and destructive behavior that would prevent the manifestation of an idea.

Q: So, is having a balanced life important to the charismatic person?

A: A balance life is a relative term. For many people, a balanced life may be attempting to have as much pleasure simultaneously as possible. The charismatic person believes the joy of the mission is a reward within itself. And any pain that comes with furthering the mission is worth it. He is lofty and believes a balanced life is for individuals who truly have not found a compelling purpose to live. In the charismatic person’s mind, there is no such thing as balance when one is bringing a compelling idea to fruition. To be successful requires a focus that becomes skewed to the goals of the mission.

Q: Has the charismatic person relegated himself to becoming a machine?

A: Yes and no. He has become as regimented and relentless as a person can be, which may be machine-like, but he is still human. Through the ongoing process of his mission, he has become a political/ business animal with different emotional responses than the average person. He has an insatiable desire to maximize his performance. For the charismatic person, without a mission, life would cease to be valuable.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Monday, April 18, 2011

5 Ways to Enhance Your Charisma Using Historical Figures as Models

There are several ways to improve your ability to attract command and maintain success personally and professionally through the examples of historical figures.

Here are five ways to enhance your charisma through these models:

Develop a compelling plan and strategy. A major driving force for charismatic leaders is their ability to implement a plan stemming from an overarching mission. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a compelling plan to desegregate institutions within the United States and used marketing strategies through the media, celebrities and public outcry to draw attention to his mission.

Become a voracious reader. Charismatic leaders have a preternatural desire for acquiring more and more information and knowledge. Former President Bill Clinton reportedly reads up to five books at a time.

Cultivate your speaking skills. Charismatic leaders speak with a great deal of passion, clarity and action. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has the ability to speak to an audience and maintain rapt attention for hours. His use of current events, controversial topics and a clear understanding of the psychodynamics of his audience make his speeches riveting and mesmerizing.

Think and act differently. Charismatic leaders dance to the beat of their own drum. Whether basketball great Michael Jordan was wearing NBA banned multicolored sneakers, sporting a bald head or flying to the basket from the foul line, he consistently demonstrated the power of thinking and acting from one’s own perspective.

Take risks. Charismatic leaders are known for taking calculated risks. The late and legendary engineer and automotive executive John DeLorean created the sports car, the DeLorean. His larger-than-life personality was equal to his ambition. Without great risks, sometimes at great cost, the name DeLorean would be among the pantheon of car designers unknown to the world, but whose designs became iconic.

For more information, visit:  Charisma

Monday, April 11, 2011

The State of Charisma in the 21st Century, Pt. I

By Edward Brown

This Q & A explores the status of charisma in contemporary society.

Q: What is the current condition of charisma in the world today?

A: Currently, there are no seminal or visionary leaders on the world stage to speak about. It does not mean that they do not exist. Somewhere in the world, right now, there is someone trying to get a movement off the ground. He is either attempting to create momentum or maneuvering in his intellectual wilderness planning for the future.

Q: If this charismatic visionary is present, what is taking him so long to reveal his plan?

A: The current political movements in Africa and the Middle East are being mastermind by one or a few individuals. These individuals may be strategists, but not necessarily charismatic figures. Mass movements are often spearheaded by calculating individuals who weigh economic, social and political conditions and foment movement when the time seems ripe. These strategists may be consensus builders rather than positioning themselves for centralized leadership. They may pass the baton on to pockets of interested people rather than become the embodiment of a movement.

Q: So have conditions changed calling for strategists rather than charismatic leaders?

A: Eminent philosopher Thomas Carlyle once said that people were “hard-wired” for hero-worshipping. They inherently need to believe in something or someone bigger than themselves. Strategists can create social movements and change, but in the end, people cry out for a compelling person to articulate and embody their aspirations. Today, it is more difficult for compelling or charismatic leaders to come to fruition, because of the isolation, solitude and extreme discipline it takes to commit one’s life to an idea. It takes a different kind of fortitude to immerse oneself into a mission when less committed individuals may be gaining more attention through the Internet and multimedia.

Q: So if the state of charisma is intact, is it a mere case of the conditions being ideal for charismatic leaders to emerge?

A: Charisma will probably always be intact, because there will always be a compelling personality who seemingly comes out of nowhere and speaks for and outlines a plan to address the unfulfilled needs of a people. The world will never be overrun by charismatic leaders. The time, process and special conditions that align for such individuals to emerge are not prolific. It takes a long time for charismatic leaders to grapple with their role on the world stage as well as the time necessary to embrace a compelling idea that becomes a crusade.

Q: Where is the next challenge in the world that beckons for charismatic leadership?

A: That’s tricky! The sensitivity that charismatic leaders feel for certain
situations is unpredictable. Missions and crusades can last a lifetime. Be rest assured that authentic charismatic leaders are not “fly by night” overnight sensations. Every fiber of their being is geared to a specific cause that has taken a lifetime to align. Look for the person who may be seemingly under the radar, but that a few people have identified as being extremely different in personality and holding passionate, transformational views of the world. He is potentially the next charismatic icon.

Related: Charisma

Sunday, April 3, 2011

When Charisma Isn’t Enough

By Edward Brown

This Q & A session explores the shortcomings of charisma and its drawbacks.

Q: What are some of the things charisma cannot do?

A: Contrary to popular beliefs, charisma is not the cure for all things. For example, charisma cannot create competence when there is ineptitude. It tends not to be able to replicate itself. And It cannot sustain long lasting success without an ultimate goal or a specific vision.

Q: What is meant by the inability of charisma to replicate or copy itself?

A: The imagination, tenacity and focus within charismatic leaders are aligned, but tend not to be completely transferrable to another person. Secondly, followers of charismatic leaders are fulfilling an internal need within themselves that make creating disciples difficult. Again, the specialness of a charismatic leader leaves a void when his leadership becomes vacant, which is not easily filled through individuals with less charismatic proclivities.

Q: Could a person at least replicate the traits of the charismatic leader although he may not have a charismatic personality?

A: External manifestations like great oratorical skills, enhanced interpersonal communications and phenomenal execution are learnable. However, an overriding desire to compete and take on a missionary zeal requires the synchronization of insecurity, narcissism, imagination and commitment at a heightened level. Children can replicate the actions of their sports heroes, but the level of skill, tenacity and world class performance requires a different level of internal fortitude that imitation merely cannot produce.

Q: Why can’t charisma be sustained indefinitely?

A: The charismatic personality will always be charismatic. Often the initial need for charismatic leadership may change. The change may require less charisma, less innovation and more stability. Also, charisma is situational. There are certain ideal situations where charismatic leadership thrives and other situations where it is stagnant.

Q: What historical cases speak to the stagnation of charisma?

A: Two current political examples come to mind. In Libya, Muammar Gadhafi led a bloodless coup in 1969 that lasted until recently. Gadhafi was like a rock star during the 1980’s. The same existed for Fidel Castro and Che Guevara during the Cuban Revolution. They captured the attention of the world, but diminished as time passed. Well, Castro has diminished, but because Guevara was killed before he became irrelevant, the mythology around him still swirls. The frailty of charismatic leaders is not leaving the scene before they are ruled insignificant. Martin Luther King, Jr. suffered the same plight. His charisma had been usurped by SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) and the Black Panthers. Had he not been assassinated, it is arguable whether his leadership would have taken on mythic proportions.

Q: So, only death can preserve the charismatic leader?

A: Death preserves the mythology at the height of his acclaim. However, a charismatic leader can groom disciples who represent his mission. A good example would be the founder of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad. By having the likes of Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan as his spokespersons, his charisma and mystery was preserved. In this instance, Muhammad used budding charismatic leaders to further a compelling concept. Rarely has charismatic leadership been used in this way.

For more information, visit: Charisma