Love this article written by Mark Susnow
Left is Frank Sinatra “The King of Charisma” artwork by Lon Levin
I was 27. I had just passed the bar and was excited about making my first court appearance. It was a whole new world. I was sitting and observing, waiting for my case to be called. I was watching the “pros.” Molly Pinkston was one of them. She walked to the podium with the help of a cane. She was in her sixties, with red hair and a blue hat that accentuated her look. I don’t remember exactly what she said but it was the way she said it, with her unique phrasing and cadence, that had an effect on me even to this day.
It was in those days that the seeds were planted. There are some people that have it- that ineffable quality often referred to as charisma.
Charisma can be cultivated and the literature supports this belief. Psychology Today and other literature breaks down many of the qualities that make someone charismatic: confidence, exuberance, and optimism, as well as a ready smile, expressive body language, and a friendly and passionate voice.
In many ways that is what Molly personified. She had a unique style and self confidence -probably had it most of her life. Her dress and manner of speaking definitely accentuated her presence.
We all know others who naturally exude this quality. They walk into a room and you notice them. They begin to speak and you listen. Others exude that confidence and energy in the way they move. But in Molly’s case, even though she was not able to move gracefully, she had “the it” factor. Actors, some better than others, have been trained to create this every time they take the stage. Their costumes and dress add to their mystique. In our own lives, at times we play roles with the appurtenant customs and costumes.
When you have a purpose for doing something, there is an inner flame that won’t burn out. It’s contagious. There is an exuberance and passion that can’t be reproduced in any other way. When I was a young lawyer it was natural for me to be passionate about the cause that I was an advocate for. With that passion it’s much easier to arouse strong emotions and feelings in others and move them into action.
Charisma is a form of energy, in some cases magnetism. There are some people that are just plain charismatic no matter what they do. But let’s talk about what we can do to create it in our lives. When that energy and magnetism occurs naturally, it shows up as presence. From my own journey of discovery this is what I know so far.
Increase your energy by exercising and breathing fully. Very few of us exercise enough or take the time to breath fully. When you breath deeply, it slows you down. Throughout the years, I have developed a practice that whenever I feel stressful, I come back to focusing on my breath.
Have a discipline like meditation, yoga or Tai Chi, that creates prana or chi which is another name for life force. These practices, and there are many others, cultivate internal energy which essentially is our life force. Running, cycling and dancing also have the effect of elevating our energy levels.
Diet is huge. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. They contain a lot of water which is what our body needs. And yes plenty of good water keeps us hydrated and energized.
Find something that you are passionate about, which will transfer to other areas of your life. It is a blessing to have a passion. But there are times in our lives when we won’t have a focus to get excited about. What’s encouraging is that as we cultivate more presence, we become passionate about life and bring that enthusiasm and passion to whatever we do. We might not even be aware of it ourselves, but others do.
Develop a connection with a higher power. As that connection deepens, you feel guided and you can say good-bye to loneliness. You can look forward to the land of the unknown with confidence that it is full of opportunity and adventure. You are ready to embrace the great mystery of life’s unfoldment.
But it takes commitment and determination and so often we easily get side tracked. We stop short and don’t get to experience the essence of what we really want which is deeper connection with a higher power and with others.
We resist being in the moment. Our mind finds a way to distract us from whatever we are doing. Overcoming resistance is one of the biggest challenges that we all face. It’s that duality that we all experience. We are physically present at a particular place-doing something-yet at the same time, our mind is some other place, thinking about something else. And with all of the latest technology, there are even more distractions that get in the way of our being fully present.
That’s what I’m working on-being totally present- that’s what charisma is all about. People who we perceive as charismatic have that innate ability to be fully present in their process. It’s a challenge worthy of our best effort.
Here’s situation we’ve all been in no matter what age we are. The more I speak with elderly people the more I marvel at how the wrinkles and crinkles in their faces tell a story of what they’ve seen and who they are. I like seeing normal aging faces, however I come from a world and business where people desperately want to hide from them. I’m talking Hollywood. One only has to look at Joan Rivers or kenny Rogers to see what can happen when you go too far. You end up being someone else. And whether that’s a better looking version or not you lose the characteristics that attracted people to you in the first place. Friends and family have to adjust to a new person. It’s just not fair.
Place on top of that the obsession of our youth culture to appear young and vital at all costs and you have a strange brew of circumstances that can lead to distressing results. So why not poke fun? Youth wants age to tighten up the wrinkles and “cold sculpt” away the fat and age wants youth to experience some of the rough and tumble events so they can get a view of what life is really all about. My father,rest his soul, used to say to me “you know nothing about the real world” and I argued that point with him on a daily basis. Now many years later I realize he was right, I didn’t know much about the real world. Now after years of a rollercoaster life I do and I am sure of one thing, trying to recapture your youth in anyway is folly. Accept and embrace the lines and the drooping body because we are more than that. Much more.
Sometimes you have to kick back and stop thinking about suicide girls,work and being creative and just have some fun…and that what I did last weekend. Saturday I spent three plus hours at the dog park in Silverlake with my two dogs, Atticus and April and we had a blast. Here are some of the shots I took.