While it is true that charisma is perceived as the result of certain outward behaviors, true charisma comes from within the heart and soul of a person who is reaching their fullest potential as a human being. This heightened level of awareness has been called enlightenment, awakening, Satori and many other labels. But these have connotations of mysticism that people in the 21st century may be uncomfortable with. So let us call it self-actualization, the name given to it by humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow.
Charisma can be thought of as a subtle light that shines from within a person who is living their life to its fullest potential. People respond to this light and want it for themselves so they are drawn to that person as a leader. They perceive instinctively that here is someone who has reached an advanced state of self-realization and it is natural that they, the observer, should want that for themselves. It is after all a human need to become the fullest expression of your human potential.
The qualities of a charismatic person can be summed up quite simply; they are positive (infectiously so), they see the potential in people and want to help them to achieve it, they envisage a bright future, and they are generous with their time and energies. While you might begin now to emulate these qualities, you should understand that they are a by-product of a larger process of personal development called self-actualization, a broad term covering many aspects of personality (this will be explored in detail in a later chapter).
Being charismatic relies on a person having the emotional intelligence to know how to communicate with people at an emotional level, making a deep connection that is not possible at a purely rational level. Easier said than done, emotional intelligence is a difficult skill to master for people who operate principally in the intellectual zone. It involves understanding one’s own emotions, how to harness them to solve problems, and how to manage and regulate one’s emotions and those of others. In our evolutionary past, going back hundreds of thousands, even millions of years, our primate ancestors operated on the emotional level. Emotions are generated by parts of the brain that existed long before those areas that evolved more recently which allow us to think rationally. Perhaps this explains why we are so prone to being influenced by our emotions.