by Nikki Owen

Working from inside out

Inspired by Louise Hay, renowned author and lecturer on the impact of thoughts on the body (‘when we really love ourselves, everything in our life works’), charisma can be examined from an ‘inside-out’ perspective. This, rather than modelling the external characteristics of charismatic individuals, may be the key to developing your own charisma.

In other words, the external behaviours exhibited by charismatic people can be interpreted as a reaction to or an effect of an internal cause. Looking to discover the inside ‘causes’ of the ‘outside’ effects, can provide the ultimate process for accessing charisma. Additionally, this approach enables anybody to go through a massive transformation if they so wish. The closer you come to the deeper root causes of charisma, the more external ‘effects’ are created.

Key point

If individuals were to learn to incorporate all the external effects of charisma, this would take weeks of intensive study. Instead, if you go to the heart of the matter, any individual can leverage their charisma levels quickly and with dramatic impact.

As an example, charismatic people are passionate about what they do. Individuals will manifest passion in many different ways, yet when we observe a person with passion, we ‘feel’ their passion, without going through a mental checklist of external signs. Martin Luther King’s body language, including his facial expressions, was relatively low key during his ‘I have a dream’ speech. His biblical cadences, the evocative pictures he painted and his evangelical delivery were his chosen core channels for the passion he felt. Contrast this with Muhammad Ali, who is animated and expressive whenever he speaks – he doesn’t need to talk for a person to instantly get his passion – it is evident through observation alone.

Charismatic people speak from their hearts. If you try to emulate Martin Luther King or any other charismatic individual, you effectively ‘act’, putting on a mask of charisma. You start modelling external characteristics that may or may not reflect your own external characteristics. This immediately blocks the flow of your own authentic persona, consequently diluting the emotional intensity of your communication.

Key point

The only way to be truly charismatic is to be authentic and speak from your heart.

Whatever external mask you choose to wear, if it doesn’t reflect the genuine, authentic ‘you’, this will create a feeling in others that ‘something just isn’t right about this person’. By connecting with the core elements that shape our character, we create the opportunity to develop a charismatic presence.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the founders of the Transcendental Club was known as one of the best public speakers of his time. He believed passionately that slavery should be abolished, despite overwhelming hostility. His charismatic presence was heightened because he spoke from his heart, never compromising his beliefs for popularity. Emerson wisely said, ‘Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.’