The Charisma Equation

When you hear the word charisma, leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. or John F. Kennedy immediately come to mind. We seem to immediately associate charisma with individuals who draw huge numbers of loyal followers and inspire the lives of millions of people.

Does that mean, as a writer, you have to be as popular as JK Rowling or John Grisham in order to have charisma? Not at all, for everyone has something that they get excited about. The question is, where does charisma come from?  From my observations I believe charisma can be described in this simple equation:


By optimism I’m referring to the belief that a goal can be accomplished, and that it will have a positive outcome. I’m very optimistic that a dedicated writer can achieve unlimited creative potential; if she has the patience to write short stories, she can write novels, if she can write novels, she can learn to write screenplays. If she can adapt a story for a screenplay, then she can also adapt a story for a live theatre script.

Passion in this context, is the ability to express excitement about a subject. You’ve seen it before: a someone you work with is usually quiet, but mention video games, his eyes light up and you can’t get him to stop talking. In that moment, he is demonstrating charisma, because not only is he convinced that video games can make life more enjoyable, but he’s expressing his passion for gaming. Don’t be surprised if that quiet guy convinces several co-workers to buy the video game he’s talking about.

About twenty years ago I was at the fiftieth anniversary service of a Pentecostal church my grandmother attended. During the service a former pastor, who was in his eighties walked up to the platform to preach. In  matter of minutes, this frail,  elderly gentleman was hopping up and down, pounding the pulpit and speaking with a loud, clear voice.   What happened? He was convinced that by telling people about Jesus Christ, their lives would have a brighter future: Optimism. He was thrilled to be back in the saddle, preaching again: Passion.  He had the congregation’s full attention: Charisma.

Are you optimistic that writing will allow you to reach your full creative potential? When you talk about writing, do your friends and family feel the excitement in your voice? You don’t have less charisma than well known leaders, they just have larger audiences  experiencing their passion. Everyone expresses his or her charisma in a unique way. If for you that happens to be through words, congratulations, you’re a writer.