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Charisma: A state of mind or a job?

It was a desolate and cold night in Gaul when the unthinkable happened to Gaius Julius Caesar. For days he had been hearing reports of discontent from the legions under his command. The legions had been fighting for nigh 8 years away from Rome. Most of them merely wanted their dues to be paid and to be reunited with their families; Now they had openly revolted against Caesar.

Caesar was now in a difficult dilemma. He could call it quits and surrender to Pompey and the senators, or militarily put down the revolt. Not wanting to end his claim to “Imperator” on such a low note, he did the most “Caesar” thing imaginable. He boldly gathered his legions for an assembly and demanded them to state their discontent. Upon hearing them, the charismatic general proceeded to berate them for their treachery, cowardice, and greed. At the ending of his fiery speech, Caesar declared them “citizens”.

Caesar’s Triumph (part No. II and IX in the cycle painted by Andrea Mantegna)
*oil on wood
*87 × 91 cm

Instead of merely shrugging and walking off, the legions broke down in hysteria. Being declared citizens meant that they could no longer have the honor associated with a legionnaire. Perhaps the most painful element being that they’d no longer be associated with the legendary Caesar’s triumph. These legions contained some of Caesar’s most veteran soldiers- soldiers who had first crossed the Rubicon with him. The legionnaires begged Caesar to induct them back into their rank. The key thing to notice here is how through sheer charisma, Caesar was able to avert an existential threat.

In layman’s term, Charisma can be defined as the inspiring quality within a person’s character that attracts other people towards them. Charisma helps to drum up popular support for causes, allure opposition to friendly camps, and command respect and obedience.

One could theoretically be the ablest person on Earth, yet without a loyal workforce he/she would never be able to accomplish their goal. Problems arise when people think being “nice” or “impressing” leads to a charismatic personality. Thus, people treat “being charismatic” as a mere chore. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Charisma is more of a state of mind rather than an act. When a claim or truth is truly believed in, it is reflected in one’s body language, speech, and emotion.

The legendary boxer Muhammad Ali’s training regimen involved constantly telling himself that he is the greatest. In his most private, darkest moments, Ali recalls that this phrase was his mental strength. It shaped the way he presented and carried himself. His training and thunderous pre-match interviews reflected that. Ali had truly programmed himself to think that he was the greatest.

Another similar example is how Cus D’Amato made Iron Mike Tyson undergo hypnosis to regularly declare himself as the greatest of all times. Caesar believed himself to be the son of Venus, and having the divine destiny to be Imperator. Similar ideas can be spotted when delivering speeches or presentations. The changes in voice’s pitch and amplitude when reaching a high point can clearly reflect a person’s dedication. It is near impossible to appear charismatic when a cause isn’t believed in. A skilled eye can and will easily spot through a fake persona. Thus, a state of mind is contingent for a charismatic personality.




About The Author

Saad Khalid

My name is Saad Khalid and I am 19 years old. I hail from Islamabad, Pakistan. I am a student of Business Administration at NUST university (Bachelors). My primary interest center around Geo-politics, futurism, science fiction novels, history, and management studies.