The notion that charisma is 'God-given' owes much to the self-protecting ideas of the historical ruling classes. Rulers, leaders, and institutions throughout the ages tended to maintain power by convincing everyone (including themselves) that ordinary people had neither the right nor the ability to achieve any sort of greatness. To varying degrees, people in authority, and certain institutions and corporations can still be seen behaving in this exclusive arrogant way. Charisma, and other powerful human qualities like leadership, knowledge and wisdom, were historically the preserve of the elite and those next to God - beyond the aspirations of ordinary people. Some believe this still to be so. Meanwhile however, the modern age is making everything possible for everyone. Most 'leaders' are now followers, chasing trends and popularity. Ordinary people achieve greatness every day. Times have changed and continue to change, away from old-style authoritarian structures and beliefs. People are ever more empowered. In the modern age 'ordinary' people are increasingly realizing that they can achieve virtually anything they want. Becoming charismatic - like becoming anything else you want to be - is no longer a gift from the gods, or a posh education. If you want to be charismatic, you can be.
what's so useful about charisma?
Charisma is closely related to assertiveness, which we all need, if only for defensive reasons. Charisma is not just about showing off. Charisma enables us to influence (and inspire) others, and also to influence our external environment, which from time to time we all need to do - even the introverts among us. Time management, for example, crucially depends on managing our environment and the expectations of others. If you want to build a business, lead a team, be a teacher or a trainer or a speaker, or maybe enter politics, then you have more reasons for developing your charismatic powers. Charisma is not an always-on aura that only special people possess. Charisma is a force of human personality which can be understood, measured, and developed. And while some people seem more naturally charismatic than others, the truth is that anyone - given belief and effort - can develop charismatic power, either as a conscious behaviour to be used when needed, or as a deeper 'second nature'. Charisma is useful for inspiring others, leading a team, or teaching and developing people, or being an innovator or a fund-raiser. Charisma is also helpful for project-management, problem-solving, facilitating and pioneering. And charisma is of course useful for all sorts of personal relationships - dating, mating, parenting, etc. Charisma helps in any situation where you need or want to influence other people and external factors. When you see charisma in these terms - and also as a way of understanding and controlling your own strength of character - you might also see reasons in your own life for wanting to develop some charismatic power for yourself. |
origins and definitions of charisma
The modern Oxford English Dictionary definition of charisma: "Compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire...