by Paul Niquette
Copyright ©1996 Resource Books All rights reserved.

charisma n. A rare quality or power attributed to those persons who have demonstrated an exceptional ability for leadership and for securing the devotion of large numbers of people. 

A lot of folks don't care much for the word "charisma."  I think I know why.  It's just plain unreliable.

  • Some of the best people have it, and some don't.
  • Some of the worst people don't have it, and some do.
As an exercise, consider the cast of characters who have performed in your theater of life.  Rate them on a "charisma scale" from one to ten.  Now review any other attribute -- effectiveness, soundness, goodness, whateverness.  Any correlation?

My private list includes a most influential teacher who was a slope-shouldered zhlub and a dazzling corporate executive who couldn't find his way to the bathroom.  I have admired the uprightness of one president, bespectacled and ordinary, and deplored the moral barrenness of another, whose charisma would drive the needle off scale.

Still, the stuff confers a distinct advantage in life, and I am reluctant to disclose what I would be willing to give up for the gift of charisma.  Faust, move over.

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