The Charisma of Ideas

The charisma of ideas matters more than a leader’s gregarious charms. But how would you know a truly charismatic idea if you ran across one?

Steve Roberts color photo: Raven lifting off a stone perch
The charisma of ideas matters more than a leader’s gregarious charms.  So states Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.  Fair enough.  But how would you know a truly charismatic idea if you ran across one?

To me, ideas with charisma are those that enflame our heart at the hour of our death just as much as they do whenever we are first struck by their relevance.  Which is to say, they are ideas that reflect timeless and universal principles of well-being

Here’s one, from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in an interview published in Parabola magazine:

Basically, the purpose of life is to serve other people, to do something of benefit for other people.  From that point of view, a difficulty is really a great opportunity.  I have often said that our generation of Tibetans is seeing the saddest period in all of Tibetan history.  So from that angle it is, how do you say, very unfortunate; but at the same time, as bad as it is, in another sense it’s a great honor, a great privilege, you see?––to face these times, to confront them.  That is the opportunity to show the Tibetan nation’s ability.  So it’s a great honor.

Here’s another: the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy:

In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations. 

Considering adversity a privilege and making decisions with a conscious awareness of their impact on the great-grandchild of our great-great-grandchild––these are ideas with charisma to my mind.

Leadership is not about the chair we sit in, but the ideas we champion.  Specifically, ideas rooted in love rather than fear, ideas that will nurture the health of the human family forever––even if some of us aren’t ready to hear them.

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