Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could somehow quantify the amount of influence that one super-charismatic-large-personality (SCLP) possesses? These sort of people don’t have to be explicitly defined as genius, but nevertheless they have an unmistakable gravitas about them. The examples stretch from the admirable and brilliant to the base and absurd. Jesus (if he was one dude), Churchill, and Oprah to Snooki, Rodman, and Daft Punk (despite the helmets, that’s impressive).
Those names immediately make what I’m talking about seem rather broad. But for the sake of discussion let’s examine the abstract idea that the amount of fame/notoriety/influence a person gathers can be quantified into a number. Every person, given the right circumstances, certainly has potential for being noticed and furthermore having an impact. But what is different about those who possess the ability to make their “15 minutes” into something more sustainable? And why/how is it that every now and again we get an uber SCLP. A nuclear bomb of personality that has the capacity to move society into new phases (both for good and ill and everything in between).
These types have been a focus of our fascination for centuries. That has in many ways been the goal of history, to learn the psychology and the biology and to zone in on the genius and freakish gravitas that key figures had; to understand and learn from it. Cleopatras, Hitlers, Washingtons, Mandelas, Jobs, Bezos, etc. Where do they lie on the SCLP scale? Does this attempt to measure the concept very loosely just do a disservice to the complicated creature that is a human being? Probably.
It seems clear that there have always been people whose genius, charisma, and otherwise difficult to term “social pull” has astronomic potential. Whose words that, regardless of being true, bring others to follow them. A demeanor that garners irrational trust, regardless of whether their intentions are pure. Stirring up a devotion so intense, that many times these personalities are lifted up to a level of sainthood. Some will be very much deserving of admiration, even if just for the skill and technique they possess, but hopefully more so for the fact that they make the world a better place.
And here is where a significant problem exists. How often is that gravitas used to pull humanity down a darker path? Has that not been our tendency? Even in the name of doing “good”? Has the net benefit of this SCLP resulted in a better world for most? Is uber SCLP a gift or a curse to society? Or should we, as Gautama says to Siddhartha “beware of too much cleverness.”