“I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!” ~Theodore Roosevelt
The 20th century marked a shift in how people formed their identity in the world. Suddenly, having a likeable personality was more important than qualities like integrity, good morals and citizenship.
Put simply, character was overshadowed by charisma.
Today, society remains preoccupied with charisma. Being magnetic and charming often trumps having true character. This is most evident in Hollywood and politics, but can be seen in every social arena.
It is common for people with questionable morals and no integrity to win favor with the masses. Simply being likeable can get a person very far in this world.
For introverts especially, this is a troubling phenomenon. We are often discounted because we don’t have the forceful presence of a more charismatic person. Our quieter virtues are outshined by the dazzling charm of someone with a big personality.
We all know people who promise the world, but never deliver. We’ve worked with a guy who didn’t pull his weight. We’ve been shocked by someone’s lack of integrity.
What is troubling about many of these people is that they are rewarded despite their lack of character. The smooth-talker gets laid. The gregarious slacker gets a promotion. The backstabbing beauty queen wins the crown. The moral of the story: others will overlook a host of despicable qualities if someone is charming and likeable.
As introverts, we might wish we were sprinkled with a tad bit more charisma dust. We see the perks of having this attractive quality and can’t help but covet it. But in doing so, we downplay our greatest assets.
We forget that true character goes to the core of who we are – well beyond the superficial space that charisma inhabits. It is one of the few things in this world that can’t be taken away from us. Charisma might get you a free drink and some phony friends, but developing character will get you what money can’t buy: self-respect, fulfillment and purpose.
So, screw what the rest of the world thinks. I’ll take character over charisma any day.