What exactly is charisma? Charisma is that magnetic and magical quality that attracts you to another. Charisma is that characteristic that has us follow a particular politician without honestly knowing what they stand for or what their track record has been. Charisma is that irresistible attraction for a particular actor or model, when looks alone wouldn’t turn your head otherwise.
Charisma is what has followers from around the world follow certain religious leaders. Charisma is what business leaders who build empires rely on – their ability to inspire others. You can find charismatic qualities in thousands of people. At Leadership that Works, we think personal charisma is a positive, powerful force that anyone can develop.
When you hear the word charisma, who do you think of? John F. Kennedy? Princess Di? Martin Luther King, Jr.? Margaret Thatcher? Like physical attraction, charisma is a subjective quality. People don’t always agree on who has charisma, but they’re often very opinionated on who doesn’t. I believe most people have it, but they rarely know how to access to their charisma; they simply don’t know what makes them compelling.
Charisma is innate in all of us. We’re born with it. Babies exude charisma. Like a magnet they draw people of all ages to them, to coo at them, to feed them, to nurture them, to love them. It’s part of our genetic makeup. It’s inherent to survival.
One reason babies are so attractive is they don’t hide their emotions. Everything they feel can be seen on their faces and felt by those within their sphere of influence. As we grow older, occasionally we are able to maintain our magnetism. More often than not, we become conditioned to hide our feelings out of fear. Only through deliberate, conscious pursuit can we stay in alignment with our charismatic powers.
The Greek word “Charis” is the name for the Graces, the three goddess’ sisters and daughters of Zeus. They are Brightfulness, Joyfulness, and Bloom. They are the triple incarnation of grace and beauty. As the fertility goddesses, they “gave life its bloom.” Literally, a gift from the Gods, charisma is often thought of as an elusive quality for a chosen few. In actuality, we all have at least a hint of charisma. Charisma is not just for extroverts; it’s something we can all learn to cultivate.
Charisma is personal magic. Martha Graham says, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.”
To be aware of your unique qualities and develop them is your gift to the world. You don’t need a character transplant to be comfortable, connected or successful. Take advantage of who you already are. Express your own truth in your own unique way. When you reveal unhidden self, the world is blessed with the special expression of individuality that you are.
One of the first steps in developing charisma is to stop trying to imitate someone else. Actively develop that unique expression that illuminates your own unique spark. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Use your personal power as the starting place for your personal development. Pay attention to your dreams and gifts. Tell yourself that you are worthy.
As Marianne Williamson so beautifully expresses in “Return to Love,” and Nelson Mandella quoted at his 1994 inaugural speech: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. You were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Step into your light. Step into your charisma. Decide to play small no longer. Discover your unique strengths and use them to enrich the world. Take the charisma test. Click this button to begin.
Written by Martha Lasley