The word charisma comes from the Greek word kharisma meaning “a gift of grace”. The word has defused greatly from its original meaning but still, there seems to be something enigmatic and divine about the energy that lights up and animates charismatic individuals. What gives people the permission to see the impossible in someone; such as in the case of Napoleon Bonaparte. What is it that inspires such devoted followers; such as in the case of Moses. Where does an ever-attractive calm contentedness come from; such as in the case of the Buddha. In this essay, we will examine a few examples of charismatic individuals hinging on the claim that charisma comes from the three characteristics of self-confidence, sense of purpose, and contentment.
First, charismatic individuals are known to have a deep sense of contentment that brings faith and comfort to all in their presence. This calm that accompanies such contentment builds trust in people that feel its warmth. People place great faith in content individuals and their ability to know the path of peace and are more likely to follow the more discontent their own lives have become. Contentment comes from an acceptance of how things are. As children, we grow up in a world of ideals. We are able to dance at any moment and can unabashedly go after the things we desire. As we grow old our world expands and we are often forced to deny ourselves some things in favor of others. The modern individual is confronted with ideals of consumerism and beauty that often conflict with our childhood passions leaving the individual wanting. It’s not wrong to desire a perfect body or an ideal lover. It’s when these desires prevent us from accepting things how they are and we begin to blind ourselves of the truth and is when our contentment becomes under siege. When you look at what consumerism desire from the individual, it’s no surprise that the modern human is massively growing in discontentedness. As reality becomes further removed from the technology-enhanced ideals, and as the fear of being left behind or left out invades the mind, the body can often lose touch with what is truly important.
It was said that “so extraordinary was the Buddha, so unnervingly kind and wise and so positive was an encounter with him, that it would change peoples lives forever”. In Buddhism, there is a practice known as unbiased attention (also known as formless meditation) which seeks to dispassionately see things as they are. This can be done by looking at a simple object like a chair or piece of fruit and refraining from making judgments about such objects. To refrain from judgment becomes more challenging when looking at more emotionally charged subjects like say, your relationship with your parents or your deeper desires and fears. To see things as they are is a practice that can build contentment and can be done simply by taking a seat, breathing deeply, and examining thoughts and sensations as they arise without passing judgment on them. To be alright with things as they are is natural when judgments are put to the side or eliminated and can be attained with this simple practice.
Second, sense of purpose is something that can mold our every action and every charismatic throughout history has had a fiercely strong sense of purpose. Our sense of purpose is something comes from deep within. It’s the thing that drives us towards a more meaningful existence. The reason why so many are attracted to religion is a good indication of how powerful the pull of purpose is in the life of a human being. In many different mystical tradition purpose develops into a divine state of flow where the self is annihilated and something greater is channeled through the individual. Wu-wei, higher-self, enlightened, self-actualization; all are examples of states that take hold and allow greater purpose speaks through the individual. For Moses, it was his communion with God that told him of a new world and drove his existence. It was said that his face was set aglow after he saw as much of the glory of the lord as the human eye could stand. As Moses so fervently believed his vision, so did his people. They were drawn in through the impact and promise of greatness which he, in turn, delivered to them.
Direct communion with God is not something you can get like you would a loaf of bread at the store. For most of us, purpose is something that is built with clear vision and hard work. All it takes it that you define your goals and then start to work towards them. They could be anything. You just need to make sure that your heart is in alignment with your mind or your willpower will fade with time and effort. It’s better to be compelled into action rather than pulled.
Third and final, self-confidence is the final and most important pillar on which all charisma hinges. Fail to demonstrate self-confidence and you will be shown as the charlatan that you are. Unfortunately, this final step is the hardest to build. This is because confidence comes from competence which is based on your ability to succeed. To build competence requires that you get better at life which requires work, trial and error, and the ability to fail. You going to want to start testing yourself in order to see what you are capable of. Through tests, you come to know yourself and you can start to then build self-trust and form a clear understanding of what you can and cannot do. From here, you can start to build competence through success.
Napoleon Bonaparte was known for his brilliant military strategy which led him to victory after victory early in his career. His confidence must have felt something like invincibility as he was regularly able to beat the odds in even the most dubious situations. It was only through making the mistake of invading Russia that Napoleon prevented his own immortality. Shortly thereafter he was captured and imprisoned by the British only to escape to create a citizens army to retake the throne. Appearing before enemy guns pointed directly at his chest Napoleon declared “Here I am. Kill your Emperor, if you wish”, but the soldiers could not fire. Compelled by his audacity they cried out “Vive L’Empereur!” The confidence of Napoleon borders on deific. Most of us are not even presented with the opportunity of finding such competence in life; however, we can use his character as inspiration. His strict and efficient work habits, iron will, and insatiable ambition brought Napoleon to command such competence in life making almost nothing impossible for him. All of these characteristics we may wish to incorporate into ourselves if we desire such skill. While we may never be king of the world, we can be king of our own domain.
In conclusion, we have laid out three traits of the charismatic character: contentedness, fierce sense of purpose, and self-confidence. Contentedness coming from one’s ability to accept things as they are. Sense of purpose coming from a well-articulated goal and made stronger through continuous action. Self-confidence coming from competence and is built on self-knowledge and success. Something like charisma is a forever task and by practicing these three traits anyone can build themselves into a more likable, more influential, better leader, and in the end, find more fulfillment in life. Life is short and there is much to be done. Peace out.