So you’re an introvert. You find that you do best when you can think before you speak. You prefer to work alone in isolation and the presence and energy of so many people around you drains you so much that you have to escape to your own sanctuary.
You probably feel that charisma and personal magnetism are beyond your reach.
I’m sorry but I have to bust that myth.
Not only can introverts be charismatic, they can actually excel in it.
With their introspective view-point, introverts can radiate a quiet, mysterious type of charisma that is just as powerful as the explosive and outwardly radiant charisma of the extrovert. This is the type of charisma that tends to bring out the sentiment, “There’s something about you, but I can’t quite place it”.
How about a short list of charismatic introverts? Steve Jobs, Meryl Streep, Douglas McArthur, Steve Martin, Albert Einstein, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, David Letterman, General Colin Powell, and Mahatma Gandhi. Charismatic introverts can be found in any industry, including the notoriously extroverted performing arts field.
The incredible thing about these personalities is that they have such an incredible public presence. They can be highly inspirational and motivational. But they eventually retreat from the public eye to “recharge their batteries”. Instead of damaging their reputations, this withdrawal from public view serves only to enhance their mystique.
General Douglas McArthur was one very interesting introvert. As the general in charge of all military operations in the Pacific region during World War II, he was extremely confident in front of his troops. He was flamboyant, articulate, inspiring and motivating, with an almost spiritual belief that he could not be killed in battle. Yet, he floundered in social gatherings, eager to leave the party and retreat into solitude with books which he read as much as three a night.
As you may have guessed by now, I am an introvert.
I am also a performance artist and am quite a ham in front of an audience. I am absolutely comfortable with other people in a work and project environment and have great success in leading large teams. But put me in a purely social gathering and I feel like I’m in front of a firing squad. I would rather run into a stampede.
I have been in leadership roles all my life and succeeded without being extroverted and aggressive. What’s worse is that I have an aversion for conflict of any kind. Thus have the “quiet and mysterious” leaders fascinated me. I studied those leaders who could command with a look and move nations with a single word. I admire leaders who can diffuse tense situations with a single smile.
It had become obvious to me, after much study and observation that charisma does not come from outer appearances, nor from linguistics, but from an Energy that shines from within.
MacArthur and Patton, two of the most extraordinary generals from World War II, were affirmed actors who projected their powerful confidence and bravado in front of their troops. Patton practiced his “war face” in front of the mirror. MacArthur used his corncob pipe, riding crop and Shakespearean rhetoric to portray a devil-may-care attitude to warfare that inspired his troops. Both were flamboyant and defied the rules of military convention.
Leadership is all about inspiration and motivation.
And, as the charismatic leaders have shown, whatever you wish to project, you must first feel within.
To project fearlessness, you have to feel courageous. To inspire others, you must first be inspired. To motivate others, to must first be motivated. To attract others, you must feel attractive. It is the feeling that counts.
This has almost nothing to do with the external appearances. Everything we wear, or use, are just props. MacArthur’s pipe and riding crop would have looked foolish when used by someone other than MacArthur. Patton’s pistol revolvers with ivory grips would have looked silly by any lesser warrior. Clothes and props are just tools. They dress greatness and mock mediocrity.
Therefore, the worst thing an introvert can do is to do what an extrovert does. It does not benefit an introvert to play an extroverts game. We transmit our thoughts all the time and we, introverts especially, tend to do this subliminally. But with proper use of subliminal energy, we can influence others and drive lasting change quietly and stealthily. That is our modus operandi.
Introverts can be just as charismatic as extroverts, as long we stay true to our nature and do things our way. Extroverts radiate from the outside. That is their strength. Introverts radiate from inside. And that is where our true power comes from.
Charisma is within the purview of both the extrovert and the introvert. Its use and projection are just a matter of style.