Learn English – Word/term for “the ability to affect history or make things happen”

single-word-requeststerminology

I'm looking for a word, but I'm not entirely sure one exists that fits exactly what I'm looking for.

The concept is "the ability to affect events" or "the ability to inexplicably make things happen." It's a tendency for certain people to just be able to do great things, while others can never quite make them happen, even though their resources are roughly the same.

The idea was originally inspired by superhero stories: Batman has no superpowers, and yet there's something about him that makes him unstoppable, unbeatable, and eternally capable. Other non-powered characters (like Green Arrow or Lex Luthor) may be similarly skillful or well-equipped or intelligent, and yet they just don't seem to have that thing that allows Batman to stand alongside godlike figures such as Superman.

Similarly, the Penguin is able to pull off a lot of unlikely, impressive feats and capers, but the Joker is just SO much more… what? That's the word I'm looking for. It's more ephemeral than "capable," more deliberate than "lucky." The Joker can just make things happen. If he wants to smuggle bombs into a building under police guard, he can; if he gets thrown out of a building, he'll somehow survive. It's like he's got a cheat code in the universe.

But it's not just fictional characters. Modern or historical people are often thought of in a similar way, where some people just seem to be able to affect history or pull things off, inexplicably or without an easy distinction we could point to that separates them from others.

A few more examples, to give you an idea of the distinction I'm making:

  • It's what Winston Churchill had, that Neville Chamberlain didn't.
  • It's what Steve Jobs had, that Steve Wozniak didn't.
  • Hitler had a LOT of it, as did Alexander the Great, Osama bin Laden, Augustus Caesar, or Rasputin.
  • Sherlock Holmes has more of it than John Watson does, Frodo has more of it than Sam does.
  • The Greek Heroes (like Achilles and Hercules) had more of it than the average Greek soldier or citizen did.

Obviously these people may have had talent, charisma, intelligence, or skill that helped them, but oftentimes there's nothing we can point to and say "that's why they could do those things," it's just like the person has an aura or ability that others don't have. In fictional/entertainment circles you might call it "star-power," or even just say "they have it." In historical/business circles you might say "potency" or "potential." The French phrase je ne sais quoi is often used, but that phrase literally means "I don't know what."

Does anyone know if there is a term for this quality? I'm not saying that such a thing actually exists, in the sense of being measurable, but in the same way that people would say that someone has "the touch" or "leads a charmed life," we would say that they have incredible "_____________"?

Best Answer

Orenda

The force of human will, in opposition to fate or destiny, to affect the world.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/orenda
a supernatural force believed by the Iroquois Indians to be present, in varying degrees, in all objects or persons, and to be the spiritual force by which human accomplishment is attained or accounted for.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/orenda
extraordinary invisible power believed by the Iroquois Indians to pervade in varying degrees all animate and inanimate natural objects as a transmissible spiritual energy capable of being exerted according to the will of its possessor

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=orenda
a supernatural, divine force within every human being. Always omnipresent. It empowers people to change the world in a positive, loving way. It is the energy that effects change in One's own life. "That inspirational speaker lifted me up so much with her 'orenda'. She made me feel that energy within myself to change the world for the better, through changing myself."

http://io9.com/5905257/10-untranslatable-words-and-when-youll-want-to-use-them
the invocation of the power of human will to change the world around us. It is set up to be the opposing force to fate or destiny. If powerful forces beyond your control are trying to force you one way, orenda is a kind of voiced summoning of personal strength to change fate.

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/orenda
invisible magic power believed by the Iroquois to pervade all natural objects as a spiritual energy.

Also see Google results for "orenda definition"