You have just finished giving your all in a presentation to teachers, hoping to have inspired and entertained them just long enough to have educated them too. Then, in the queue of people coming to speak at the end, amongst the delegates requesting a business card, asking for a job or coming to complain that they couldn’t quite hear because they are a little deaf but still insisted on sitting at the back anyway, there is the teacher who starts with the words, ‘That’s OK for you but…’
What comes next is always one of two things:
‘…what about Ofsted?’
‘…what if you don’t have any charisma?’
The best answer to the first challenge, as told to me once by the late, great Ted Wragg, is simple. ‘Bugger Ofsted!’ In other words, don’t let them hold you back. Show them what you’ve got instead. They’ll thank you for it. And who are we to argue with Ted Wragg?
Answering the second challenge is more of a puzzle in itself. On one hand it is a compliment to your stage presence, dazzling presentational skills and general ability to put yourself on the line and hold an audience for anything from 40 minutes to an entire day with nothing more than a set of marker pens, a flip chart and four decent jokes. On the other hand, it is an excuse, a cop out, a reason the delegate is using for not changing anything at all, not even trying. And, if there were any hands left, on another hand, it also is quite sad. It’s saying openly, publicly, to a virtual stranger, ‘I can’t be better because, look, I have no personality’.
So, maybe the answers are, respectively, ‘Thank you, you are too kind’, ‘Stop giving me excuses’ and ‘That’s not true’ or at least needn’t remain so. And, to address this last point, where better a place to start than with this book.
Like magic, charisma isn’t magic. It’s a set of techniques, it’s a mindset, it’s a way of approaching things, the application of certain rules when it comes to interacting with people, a way of looking what is going on and responding. Some people may be born with it. Some aren’t. Some people are born with blond hair but that doesn’t make them better than you. Just blonder. So, get over it.
Take Charles Lindbergh as an example if you like. He knew that to achieve his goal of being the first person to fly single-handed across the Atlantic he would need financial backers. Being a daring barnstormer in the early days of mechanised flight would not be enough to achieve that. What he needed was a personality. Or last least the semblance of one, one that was different to the one he had used up until then. In the words of biographer Leonard Mosley:
‘Normally he was a solitary, taciturn man who rarely sought the company of his fellow human beings… but once he got an idea in his mind or a project that needed selling, he was prepared to meet anyone, slap every back in sight, turn on his smile and his charm and listen patiently to the emptiest small talk – but only if it brought him nearer to the attainment of his objective ’.
Your main objective probably isn’t to fly the Atlantic singlehanded or present the acceptable face of the Nazi party, but what is your primary goal? This is one of the aspects of charisma that David Hodgson so cleverly draws out. We, all of us, come alive when we are driven, when we have a goal in mind that moves us. Identify that and you not only start to show that spark in your eye that is the mark of people with charisma, it also gives you the impetus and motivation to be different. Or, in this case, to try out David’s many simple but powerful tips and ideas, strategies and techniques to help you be, not someone else, but more you.
Apart from his pioneering work with young people on the application of personality profiling, David is also great advocate and practitioner of NLP or neurolinguistic programming. One of the key tenets of this approach to being a better you is to look at people who are great at what they do and, in a nutshell, do it too. The secret here is to use what the NLP crowd refer to as your ‘acuity’. You have to look and listen very carefully to pick up just what it is these model experts do, but once you start to notice it, then you can start to copy it. It’s not cheating, it’s just improving. You wouldn’t practice a sport or rehearse a play without aiming to get better at it, so why not the same with your job?
By breaking down what it is that soi-disant charismatic people do, David is able to take you through various exercises and ideas that will help you build up your own repertoire of charismatic behaviours and approaches that can make a genuine difference in your job and beyond.
So, whether you were the first or the last to be picked for the team when you were at school, whether you are the life and soul of the party or the one in the kitchen looking through someone else’s fridge, enjoy this Little Book of Charisma, learn and practise the ideas here, enjoy the challenge of change and we wish you a happy, fulfilled and charismatic career.
Ian Gilbert, Dubai 2010