A heart on fire . . !

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MUCH before the pandemic I looked at a motley lot of people who had come to me to learn the art of public speaking from me. As I began the talk my heart sank; they looked anything but people who would one day get up and wax eloquent.

There was a shy school girl who couldn’t even look directly at me, a house wife who nodded to everything I said but who I found out later didn’t know English well, a man who had a nervous twitch that began twitching as if to distract me and others who looked equally incapable of such huge task.

“There is a word which starts with the letter P which is the most important word in learning to speak in public, “I said, “What is it?” “Passion!” said the woman who could hardly speak English and I nearly hugged her.

“Yes,” I said, “its passion, and if you are filled with such passion that you can see yourself on stage being a good orator, then you will achieve your goal!” I looked at each one of them after the class and in their eyes, I saw hearts on fire.

That evening before we left, I let each of them have a chance to get on stage and speak and I saw the fire had ignited in all of them.

A teacher quizzed her class: “He drove straight to his goal. He looked neither to the right nor to the left, but pressed forward, moved by a definite purpose. Neither friend or foe could delay him, nor turn him from his course. All who crossed his path did so at their own peril. What would you call such a man?”

A student replied, “A truck driver!” The class laughed but the teacher continued, “Always remember the truck driver, for anyone who pursues a vision with such passion is sure to be a success.”

And what happens when hearts are not on fire? Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel got it right when he said: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.”

And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” Nothing will kill a dream or douse the fire of a good idea more quickly than indifference. To whatever endeavour you commit yourself, be on guard primarily against that spirit-quenching attitude of apathy.

Maybe its not just public speaking you want to succeed in, maybe it’s a project? A job? A relationship? A personal mission? A financial goal? A life purpose? “Each one of us has a fire in our heart for something,” says Mary Lou Retton.

“It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit!” If there’s indifference today in you, a feeling of apathy, remember the truck driver, remember that class of public speaker trainees and ignite a passion that will set your heart on fire..!

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