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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Looking for Authenticity?


He had the charm of all people who believe implicitly in themselves, that of integration.”
John Fowles (The Magus)

Are you aware of charisma? Whether you think of that word or not, you can't help being drawn to it. Charisma means “favor freely given” or “gift of grace.” It is something that one is either born with, or not. It cannot be taught, or bought, or won. When a person, or a place, is filled with such attractiveness that we are naturally drawn to them, or it, that is charisma.

Another word for charisma is charm. It is an intangible quality. Interestingly, it doesn't require beauty so much as it requires a bit of mystery, a little intrigue. We are fascinated by a person who seems to have a cachet about them that we can't quite put a finger on. We are charmed by a place that feels familiar and comfortable, yet also arouses questions in us—what is its history, who arranged this place to make it so inviting, what would I like to do here? For both person and place, we never want to leave. In other words, we are captivated. If someone, or someplace, lacks charisma, no matter how beautiful or intelligent, we feel bored, disinterested.

Natural born leaders have charisma. They combine deep knowledge of a subject with intense passion for it because it matters to them, and people naturally follow. Authentic leaders exude confidence, not by blustery rhetoric, but because confidence is intrinsic to who they are. They are typically quiet, unassuming, and speak the same with, about, and to everyone they meet. They have a strong sense of self, and are not easily swayed. They feel solid because their personality and spirit are integrated; they possess what we call “presence.” They are not egotistical.

It is human nature to be drawn to charismatic people—whether benevolent, or not. The same charm that easily and naturally leads, is also capable of leading in a corrupt way. We must ask ourselves these questions: Who benefits most from this leader? Do I trust him/her? Would I feel comfortable in her/his presence? Would I be received, and respected as a person by him/her?

The world needs authentic leaders right now. Let's be thoughtful in our choices.

                                                                    In the Spirit,


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