It’s easy to spot. Bill Clinton has it. So do Oprah Winfrey, Sean Connery and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Kennedy family hands it down from generation to generation, as if it were part of the inheritance.

It’s charisma – that special magnetism that draws us to someone for reasons we can’t always explain. It’s almost like a magic circle of attraction.

Charisma is hard to define because it entails so many different qualities. It can mean personality, charm, magnetism, and even pizzazz. But it all boils down to the ability to win the confidence of the people in your environment.

Charisma is different things to different people. It depends on your point of view. For instance, Michael Jackson has tremendous appeal with younger people, but their parents may not be drawn so readily into his magic circle of magnetism.

There is some disagreement over whether charisma is all chemistry or whether it can be acquired. A Yale psychologist calls charisma one of those factors that have a whiff of magic about it. It has a reputation of being somehow mysterious, and being more chemistry and psychology. Therefore, people tend not to study it, and that adds to its mystery.


More and more people are now coming to believe that a little conscious effort can create a charismatic aura. Psychologist Abraham Maslow contended, in his theory of human needs and motivation, that needs aren’t just something people feel when they’re deprived of the basic necessities of life, such as food and water. Instead, he claimed that there are higher needs that motivate all of us to actualize our potential as human beings.

From this thesis Maslow formulated a needs hierarchy consisting of five levels. The highest level is self-actualization. It is the traits of people at this level of that make up the charismatic. But let’s start at the beginning.

Maslow points out that self-actualization is our highest need, but it’s a need that only becomes prominent when other lower needs have been adequately met.Our lowest, most basic needs are physiological. These include the need for food, water, sleep, and sex. These needs are proponents over all the others. That is, we will not be concerned with anything else as long as we racked by hunger or dying of thirst.

When these needs are adequately met, a second set of needs arises. These are the safety needs. This includes our need for security and stability. They show up in our desire for structure and order, and in our need to predict what will happen to us. Our safely needs include our need to be protected and cared for, and also our need to protect and care for others.

The third set of needs is belonging and love needs. These can be seen in our desire for community and our desire to have a place we can call home. It shows our need for close and meaningful relationships with friends and family. Widespread loneliness in our society today reflects the difficulty we have in fulfilling our love and belonging needs.

The fourth set of needs is esteem needs. These include the need for a healthy sense of self-respect and to be respected by others. They also include our needs for feeling competence, mastery, and achievement.

Finally, the highest need is for self-actualization. This is the need to become the person we were meant to be, to utilize our talents and capabilities. It is to know others and ourselves more fully, and to contribute in a positive way to the world around us. It is the need that motivates us to see more clearly, to live calmly yet dynamically, and to understand deeply.


With self-actualization and charisma as our final goal, let’s take a closer look at what it means to be self-actualized. There are many characteristics of charismatic people. The most important are:

  • high levels of self-awareness and self-confidence;
  • good interpersonal relations with others;
  • a belief and a willingness to stand up for values such as honesty, justice, and goodness;
  • higher levels of generalized creativity; and
  • more peak experiences.

The fundamental attribute of the charismatic person is the ability to perceive more accurately oneself, others, and the world in general. Because the basic needs are fulfilled, or quieted, the perceptions of a person at this level are accurate and untainted by lesser considerations. This accuracy, in turn, leads them to greater self-awareness and greater feelings of independence and confidence.

Charismatic people, more than most people, know themselves – who they are, what they believe in, what they value. In social situations they are more independent. They trust their own judgment. There is an old Zen saying, “Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired.” It means that we should listen to ourselves, and trust our internal messages.

Charismatic people are more independent, but they maintain good relations with others. They experience extremely deep and strong relationships with those closest to them and have benevolent, brotherly feelings toward people in general. In relating to others, they are able to say both yes and no. They can say yes to relationships because they do not fear closeness.

They can say no because they know who they are and what is not good for them. Because they have high self-esteem, they are not afraid to be honest with others and let others get to know them. Because they accept themselves, they are better able to accept others. The net result is a heightened capacity to develop and experience loving human relationships.

Charismatic people have very high values and are willing to stand up and he counted for their convictions. Even if a situation arises when standing up for their values is not the popular thing to do, the charismatic person will stand up and speak out for those values.

Another trait of the charismatic individual is creativity. I’m not referring to the specialized creativity that results in great works of art or scientific discoveries, but rather to a generalized creativity – a way of viewing and approaching life. It involves the attitudes of openness and flexibility, along with a willingness to take risks by stepping into the unknown. The point is not what the charismatic person accomplishes, for the occupation may be quite menial. Instead, it’s that attitude toward life that allows you to see new possibilities in situations. Charismatic people often come up with creative responses to everyday problems and situations.

Finally, charismatic people are more open to, and have more, peak experiences. Maslow describes a peak experience as “the most wonderful experience or experiences of your life; happiest moments, ecstatic moments, moments of rapture, perhaps being in love, or from listening to music or suddenly ‘being hit’ by a book or a painting or from some great creative moment.”

During peak experiences we feel differently. We feel a personal power, as if all our abilities and potentialities have come together for one magnificent moment. During the peak we are more open to experience and feel more fully functioning, more creative, and more individual. At the same time we feel that the whole universe has come together and

that we are one with it. We feel integrated and whole, and life seems more worth living than we ever imagined it could be.

Peak experiences are not only powerful when they are happening. They also leave powerful, positive aftereffects. Generally speaking, peak experiences enable us to view ourselves in a more positive way and give us a more positive view of life. They can release greater creativity and spontaneity and permanently alter how we view things.


If becoming a person with charisma is just a step beyond the fulfilling of lower needs, and being charismatic has so many desirable characteristics, why don’t more people achieve it? What holds us back?

The greatest difficulty most of us have is in fulfilling our needs for safety and security. This means we usually live with two strong and conflicting needs – the need for safety and security, and the need to use our talents and abilities and take risks. Just as we have a natural desire to reach out and express our potential, we also have a natural desire for order and comfort in our lives. We like the familiar, even when it is not the best for us. How else could we explain the many people who stay in jobs that are not satisfying or fulfilling? For what other reason other than the need for safety, security, and predictability of the familiar, do so many people stay in relationships that are not satisfying?

Growth does not typically happen by quantum leaps. It happens through hundreds and thousands of little decisions and actions we take every day. It’s the decision to be honest with a friend, to do something to improve ourselves, to spend more time with those we love. It is the decisions that we believe, in our deepest selves, to be good for us, that produce growth. When we do not listen or act on the messages we get

from our inner selves, it is usually because our needs for safety and security outweigh our desire to grow. We are afraid others will not approve of us if we act on the inner voice, or we do not have the confidence that the inner voice is telling us the right thing to do.


One of the most important things we can do to become charismatic is to learn to listen to our true inner selves. Our goal is to tune into ourselves, listen to what we hear, and act upon it despite what others may think.

Don’t be concerned that this will make you self-centered and uncaring of others. As a human being, you are entitled to live your life, as you believe it should be lived. Other human beings should extend this right to you, and you should extend this right to them.

This does not mean you have the right to willfully harm others. In fact, when you listen to your inner self and accept the responsibility for your own life and the way you are living it, you will not want to harm others. You will find that sarcasm and manipulative communication are no longer fitting for you to use. You realize that others are not living your life for you – that you are living it for yourself. They are not responsible for your happiness or unhappiness – you are.


Each day we are confronted with countless opportunities to make growth choices. If we don’t have our focus on growth, these opportunities are lost. To cultivate the growth habit, we must become better at recognizing our opportunities. Take today as a starting point. Review the day in your mind. Can you identify any situations with opportunities for decisions at work that have helped your personal growth?

Perhaps someone at work criticized you and you responded by criticizing him or her back. Could you have used a more productive response? Perhaps you’re interested in changing some habit that you find undesirable. When confronted with the choice of continuing the old habit or doing something differently, how did you respond?

Perhaps a situation came up in which you would have to control your temper. How did you respond?

Continue reviewing the day to identify opportunities for growth changes and improved communication. You may want to list them on a sheet of paper so that you can be aware of how many there are in a typical day. In the future, be alert to opportunities for growth choices as they present themselves.

In social situations, listen to your inner voice. You are offered dessert. Do you really want more food, or would you rather say, “No thank you?” Every day many situations arise in which we have the option to respond without thinking or to tune into our true inner wishes and desires. Starting today, promise yourself that you will stop and tune into your inner voice before making snap decisions and responses.

Besides making decisions to voice your opinions, you also have opportunities every day to express your true self. How often have you wanted to get to know someone better but didn’t have the courage to walk up and introduce yourself? How many times have you hesitated to speak out and say what you really believe and let others know what you think and feel? We get to know one another by what we tell each other. The only way to have the kinds of close relationships we all crave is to have the courage to let others get to know what we honestly experience, think, and feel.


People with charisma also have enthusiasm. What is enthusiasm? The word is defined as “a force or quality through which human beings

exercise and perform acts with great inner power and desire.” A person with enthusiasm exudes vital qualities of warmth, drive, and exuberance.

The first part of enthusiasm is desire. If a person wishes to become President, but doesn’t really believe it’s possible, the wish will never become a driving force. Desire is transformed into drive when a dream creates a passion for action.

At this point there is no more painful struggle to reach a goal. We are ready to pay the price for our success. Much physical, mental, and psychological coordination will occur before the dream is realized, but the first step is desire.

The second part of enthusiasm is confidence. A person who has poor self-confidence does not feel or act enthusiastically. Positive self- confidence is a protective barrier against negative feelings and obstacles. It gives the security that frees the imagination.

Positive self-confidence begins with knowledge. This is achieved through the willingness to learn effectively and comprehensively. We should never avoid a learning opportunity. Understanding follows knowledge. Understanding is a sense of awareness that activates constructive, positive thinking. For example, if we want to do something, knowledge of how to do it is important, but it is not enough. We need to understand the process, the results, the objectives, and the functions involved in completing that project.

Positive self-confidence finally appears when mental harmony develops. Disturbance, logical or emotional, often results from ignorance and misunderstanding. Mental harmony, however, is a normal consequence of knowledge and understanding. It is a feeling of satisfaction that allows self-confidence to grow.


The last part of enthusiasm is energy. After desire is built and positive self-confidence established, our mental world produces energy powerful enough to survive even the strongest doubts.

An enthusiastic person, a person with charisma, displays vast quantities of energy. Other people who observe this individual find themselves saying; “I just don’t know how he (or she) does it!” What these observers fail to realize is that the enthusiastic, charismatic person is driven by boundless psychological, mental, and physical energy. Such energy must be expended. The successful person channels it into enthusiastic action.


The trademark of our modern age seems to be insecurity. The poor wonder how they will survive the inflationary erosion of their income. The rich pay security firms more than seven billion dollars a year to safeguard themselves and their property.

The pressures of life affect us all, but we don’t all feel them to be same degree. For those who have learned to accept uncertainty and possibly even enjoy it, the challenge of each new day can be faced with a sense of adventure rather than defeat. It’s all in how your respond.

Maxwell Malz, author of the popular book Psycho-Cybernetics, estimated that 95% of us have at least mild feelings of inferiority, the primary cause of insecurity.

So let’s admit that we sometimes feel inferior, and that makes us insecure. Face that fact and you have taken the most important step toward overcoming the problem. Psychologists tell us that neurotic anxiety, so prevalent today, results from our efforts to deny the basic uncertainty of life. When we maintain the illusion of security in an insecure world, we fall deeper and deeper into difficulty.

Since nearly all of us have feelings of insecurity, there is no reason to be ashamed of them. Famed Vienna psychiatrist Alfred Adler said, “This feeling of inferiority is the driving force, the starting point, from which every childish striving originates.” Some of us use it as a motivating power to achieve greatness.

Others hide behind their fears and withdraw from the difficulties of life. If we just keep going, despite uncertainty, each success builds further self-confidence. This strengthens our ability to handle the next challenge that comes our way.

Without inner security, no amount of success or wealth can still those nagging voices in our minds. Those nagging voices plague the businessman who comes up with great ideas but is reluctant to express them because they might sound silly.

Lacking the self-assurance to say what he thinks, he gets angry with himself for not speaking up, especially when someone else is congratulated for expressing the same thought. At the opposite pole, insecurity can appear in the one who “knows it all”. This is usually the person with a blustering, overbearing personality that hides a fearful person inside. We’ve all met both types, but maybe we didn’t understand them.

It may come as a surprise that people are concerned more about their own insecurities. They may not even be aware of your weaknesses! You are the only one who really cares about them. Change what you can

and accept the rest. This will help to develop your charisma and build your super persuasive power.


  1. Be yourself. The mystic Ram Dass said, “If you learn tricks, you will be a caterpillar that files. But you will not be a butterfly.” There is real value in accepting yourself, imperfections and all. The heart of the problem is doubt about your self-worth. Many believe that they have value only in terms of what they produce for others. As human beings, we all have infinite value and a unique contribution to make. Stop measuring your worth against others, and start appreciating your special talents.
  2. Be open to others. So often we try to draw within a protective shell that no one can penetrate. But when you reveal yourself to others, blemishes and all, they will overlook your imperfections, and appreciate your good qualities. Face your shortcomings and allow yourself to laugh at minor mistakes.
  3. Expect others to like you. An apologetic attitude is self-defeating. Don’t assume everything you do is wrong. If you naturally expect others to like you, they probably will. And you’ll like them too. Surveys show that the best-liked people are those who like others. Nothing will build your charisma faster than having a circle of warm, accepting friends. People walk through the door of your expectations.
  4. Turn outward. Resist the tendency to become preoccupied with yourself. Many people are so wrapped up in their own insecurities that they fail to notice the needs of others. Charismatic people are
    able to forget their own problems and get involved with other people. They help others for the sheer joy of doing it, without calculating the return.
  5. Work toward a goal. Insecurity feeds on aimless drifting. Dedication to a purpose in life is the fastest way to forget your weaknesses and use your strengths for a worthwhile cause. Success itself is not a goal because at the top of the heap is the most insecure position of all. People with charisma use success as a means to accomplish what has meaning for them. The reward is lasting satisfaction.

The word charisma has its roots in Greek mythology. Charis is one of the three graces and refers to the divine gifts and attributes we each have within us. These gifts, when reorganized and actualized, enable us to live and communicate with total love, power, and self-confidence. In a nutshell, this describes the personality of a dynamic Super Persuader.

Dr. Robert Anthony

Dr. Robert Anthony

The works of Dr Robert Anthony are some of the best kept secrets on the Law of Attraction. Operating without the massive self-promotion and razzmatazz that so often accompanies other ‘Personal Development’ teachers, Dr Anthony has nevertheless provided a guiding direction to some of the most successful people on the planet.

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