“Charisma is an authentic power that captivates the hearts and minds others.” ~ Nikki Owen
I’ve been through many self-development and training workshops over the course of my career. All of them have been valuable in their own right, but some make such a profound impact that the experience as well as ‘aha’ moments can continue to be applied to your life long after the initial learning has been assimilated. The Charisma Connection was one such day.
Creator of the Charisma Connection: Nikki Owen
I had not come across the work of Nikki Owen before I attended this workshop, but was persuaded by a dynamic business woman, Sylvia Baldock, the Regional Director of my local Athena networking group, who I know and trust; that it would be a worthwhile investment. I’m glad I listened to her!
Sylvia met Nikki through her membership of the Professional Speaking Association (PSA) and became fascinated by her work on charisma as it tied in closely with her own expertise on Talent Dynamics and Flow.
Thirty years of research have been distilled into a life changing day of learning, laughter and limitless possibilities.
As part of the study materials for The Charisma Connection we each received a signed copy of Nikki’s ground-breaking book: Charismatic to the Core, our workbooks and access to her amazing Hypno Meditations, our online charisma profile to identify our charismatic potential as well as a follow up call with our trainer Sylvia.
Nikki’s story is incredibly moving and inspirational. You can read about her achievements, get your own charisma profile and more, on her website.
I had a few doubts in my mind before I arrived at the venue, the Crowne Plaza hotel in Marlow. Could I really afford to take a whole day out of the office that wasn’t geared to my business? I was thinking of all the writing I should be doing and the meetings I wanted to set up.
All the machinations in my mind were dispelled virtually the instant Sylvia greeted me. I knew it was going to be a worthwhile day and a much needed investment in myself. Sylvia’s positive energy radiated and connected with mine before she even said a word.
Our seats were laid out in a semi-circle with all our materials in a bright and airy room scented with beneficial aromatherapy oils, and Sylvia’s warm introduction set the tone perfectly. There were eight of us in the group which meant that we could get the most out of our individual and team exercises.
“When you are being true to who you really are inside, you shine in your own unique way.” ~ Nikki Owen
Sylvia gave us a brief overview of the day and began by telling her story. It was an emotional and uplifting start which bonded us beautifully.
We then began our first exercise, which was discussing the charismatic advantage in the areas of success, engagement, resilience, talent and health.
We split into two groups and did a wonderful exercise that highlights the processes going on unconsciously in our heads and how that translates to our emotions and subsequent actions. We had to put the right terms onto a magnetic board to show what happens when we are subjected to information and sensory input. It was harder than it looks! However, with a bit of guidance from Sylvia we got there eventually.
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, professor at the Drucker School of Management in California, every moment our unconscious mind absorbs over two million bits of information through our senses. Professor George Miller, Harvard Business School states that consciously we typically only process around seven chunks of this stream of information.
Who are you?
In order to create the right internal conditions for our charisma to develop Sylvia grouped us into pairs to ascertain our authenticity and purpose, which is vital to help our charisma grow and flourish.
For the first part of the exercise we sat comfortably facing our partners. Person A wore a blindfold to promote deeper introspection and person B asked “Who are you?” every 15 seconds, while remaining present and focused on their partner. As person A responded, person B made a note of their answers. We did this for five minutes and then switched roles.
Having the question “Who are you?” repeated continuously for this period of time enabled us to reach beyond our early superficial responses and reach deep into our subconscious minds to access our truth.
For the second part of the exercise we followed exactly the same format, except Person A asked person B “What do you want?”
This was an incredibly powerful exercise, and I’ve been looking through some of answers my partner Gerry wrote down.
Just before lunch Sylvia treated us to one of Nikki’s relaxing Hypno Meditations. Her soft voice spoke to us, specifically recorded with two to three dialogues speaking at the same time to have maximum impact on the brain, accompanied by binaural beats and music. Lunch was a delicious, healthy buffet, and we even managed to sit out on the balcony before the rain descended.
Survival or Growth?
The afternoon session was equally eye-opening. We began by studying the attributes of someone in either a survival or growth mindset. Again, Sylvia split us into two groups, each taking a mindset. We shared our findings and reflected on the specific behaviours and physical symptoms.
Afterwards we collectively went through the Survival/Growth models and Sylvia explained that when a person is in survival mode and typically stressed, their cells literally shut down, triggered by the release of cortisol and adrenaline. In order to protect themselves cells become closed silos by sealing themselves and moving into a protective operating mechanism. This in turn prevents other growth hormones from entering.
When we are living and working in a safe and supportive environment we release serotonin and oxytocin which increase an individual’s openness towards social belonging. This chemical reaction opens the cells so they can absorb nutrients for growth.
It’s obvious to see why some businesses and organisations go from strength to strength and others fail. If individuals are placed in an environment where they feel stressed, that encourages selfish, closed thinking – a silo mentality. Nikki points out that a safe and supportive environment will actively encourage open, selfless thinking – a collaborative and caring culture. And the key to silos lies in our cellular biology!
We talked about charismatic leaders and the importance of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in attaining a growth mindset, both individually and as part of an organisation.
How to Develop Charisma
Sylvia showed us the five pillars of charisma and we covered each one in detail. These pillars were shown on a five point star. We could see how a downward spiral in the areas of balanced energy, driving force, compelling vision, high self-esteem and sensory awareness would create a silo, whereas strengthening these attributes develops charisma and improves your whole life.
“The symbol of star quality is based on the beliefs, values and experience of your past programming. The construction and constituents of each pillar is expressed through a variety of unconscious behaviours that in a work context influences a leader’s impact either positively or negatively.” ~ Nikki Owen
We did an interesting exercise (again in pairs) to establish our charisma constellation. This powerful process meant we could engage with the depth, wisdom and awareness of our unconscious minds to gain intuitive insights about our charisma.
It involved using colours for each pillar, some of which are representative of the Chakra System.
We placed the colour squares for each pillar onto the floor in the positions and colours that felt right to us. My balanced energy point was yellow, at the start, close to my driving force which I chose orange, close to self-esteem which was green, alongside my purple sensory awareness looking towards my vision for which I chose blue.
As we stepped on each square we had to notice how that colour made us feel in relation to each point on the star. We were allowed to rearrange the footprints until we established what felt in alignment with each person.
The Charisma Model
Thoughts Become Things
We saw the pictures of Dr. Masaru Emoto’s extensive experiments on the molecules of water crystals in samples that had been split into separate containers and labelled with worlds such as love and peace and hate and war. The resulting images he later studied under a microscope revealed that thoughts and intentions profoundly affected the matter they were directed at.
Nikki did her own experiment in 2009, which she termed ‘The Big Apple’. It involved cutting an apple into two halves, again directing positive, loving thoughts to one half, and negative, thoughts, beliefs and emotions towards the other half. The results were astounding!
These results highlight the power of focused intent. It really shows how a leader can impact on the culture, performance and results of an organisation, or indeed a country. Research by Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee (Primal Leadership) cite that the leader’s mood is not only contagious but it affects the bottom line.
Eliminating Limiting Beliefs
The final exercise of the day was invaluable. Sylvia discussed with us the impact that early programming in childhood can have as we grow up and thus implant self-limiting beliefs. I am always in awe of my children’s lack of guile, and of the generally open, honest and direct way they express themselves. They haven’t yet managed to sabotage their beliefs.
We paired up again with our course partner and chose a limiting belief that we wanted to exterminate. One person then asked the other various questions about their limiting belief, and in part two they asked more but different types of questions.
I had an amazing ‘aha’ insight that my empowerment doesn’t depend on anyone else. This was such a powerful exercise.
As I said to Sylvia, it’s a great feeling to challenge and destroy those beliefs that don’t serve our purpose, passion and potential. It’s liberating to cut loose the heavy ball and chain of the thoughts that hold us back.
I saw Gerry last week at our Athena meeting and she is as keen as I am for us to get together every month or so to continue our progress.
The day was rounded off with a different Hypno Meditation and Sylvia told us a very moving story. We each drew on a plate our thoughts of the day and explained a little about how we had arrived at our creations.
Lots of things ‘stuck’ for me on this day. Some of the teaching I had been exposed to before to some lesser degree, but it was taught in such a brilliant way that it affected me profoundly. The following days saw some incredible coincidences. I bumped into people I had been thinking about that I hadn’t seen for a year or more. Everything seemed to flow. I’m sure that’s because I was in a creative, growth place!
Big thanks and appreciation go to Nikki Owen for producing this material and to Sylvia Baldock for facilitating our learning in such a charismatic way. She certainly practiced what she preached!
I will continue on my charismatic journey. I have been starting and ending my day with the Hypno Meditations and working through the material again in my own time. I will continue to peel back the layers to reveal my authentic self. I have started to apply what I’ve learnt so that I can be a better parent and become a person who can inspire others.
If this post has inspired you, please do buy a copy of Nikki’s book, visit her website and that of our trainer Sylvia Baldock. You won’t be disappointed.
“Charisma is your birth right, it is a natural state that is within all of us, including you, just waiting to be awakened.” ~ Nikki Owen